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13th Feb 2013

From Volunteers to Valentines – The Irish Volunteer Who Found a Sweetheart in Sierra Leone

VSO Ireland now not only wages war against poverty with their Irish volunteers overseas, they have become an international Matchmaking service as Aisling Duwai tells us...

VSO Ireland is one of the world’s leading international development charities that works through volunteers to fight against poverty in developing countries.  Aisling Duwai (nee White) decided to join VSO and volunteer abroad for a year.  Little did she know, the experience would change her entire life.

Aisling had been working in business for quite a few years and was looking around for something new: “I always wanted to explore the development side and VSO gave me that opportunity. My employment allowed to me to take a career break for a year and so I left for Sierra Leone.”

While in Sierra Leone, Aisling worked as a Volunteer Management advisor and put her years of consultancy and business experience to use. Aisling got to know the lady who was living next door, a kind woman who would take in some of the children from the neighbourhood and look after them. It was here she first met Hassan, who was a friend of the family.

“We would meet up quite regularly and it just went from there. When I went home to Ireland, I knew I had to go back and see him.  The next step was getting him to come to Ireland, he had met my mother and sister, but I wanted him to meet the rest of my family. I can’t explain it, I just knew I had to go back and see him.”

Aisling and and her husband Hassan who she met while volunteering

Aisling was forced to cut short her work in Sierra Leone when she discovered she was pregnant. The couple decided to move their marriage plans along and within a year, Hassan had moved to Ireland and married the love of his life.

They have since welcomed a baby boy and the pair are both excited at the prospect of introducing him to what Aisling describes as the “captivating country that brought his parents together.” Aisling had spent over two years volunteering in the country.

However, she was was delighted that Hassan had decided to move to Ireland with her. “He loves it here” she told us, “socially, Ireland is very like Sierra Leone. He loves nothing better than to go off down the pub for a couple of drinks.”

If trying to do more good deeds was part of your New Year’s resolutions or if you ever been interested in volunteering, why not consider the VSO this year? You could be involved with some of their many exciting projects abroad, and who knows, you might even find the love of your life…


For more information on how to volunteer for VSO, log on to their website here