Opinion

Devenney encourages others to fast for disadvantaged children

A DONEGAL great has pledged to do a monthly 24-hour fast to make a difference to some of the world’s poorest children.

Former Tir Chonaill star Brendan Devenney has never been afraid of a challenge and will give up food for one day every month, donating the money he saves to sponsor a little girl in Togo, West Africa, through the children’s rights charity Plan International.

Plan International fight for the rights of children, especially girls, who live in the poorest regions of the world.

“Being a dad myself I feel very lucky and privileged and I wanted to do something to give a bit back. Childhood is so important for a person’s growth and opportunity later in life,” Devenney said.

“Sadly, there are millions of children across the world who don’t have opportunities that most kids get here in Ireland.

“A few months ago I decided to fast for a day and donate the €22 I would normally spend on food to charity and hopefully make a difference to even just one of those children.

“I did some research and chose Plan International because they support both girls and boys, but have a strong focus on girl’s rights. Girls are more likely to live in poverty, be denied access to school, forced into early marriage and to go hungry, simply because they are young and female.”

Devenney now sponsors an eight-year-old girl in Atakpamé which is the most marginalised province in Togo, with a population around 200,000, almost 60% of whom are younger than 25. Around half of children there drop out of school due to early pregnancy, child trafficking and poverty.

Plan International have been working in Togo for over 30 years, and work with communities, schools and the government to create a more equal world where girls get the same opportunities as boys.

Three months into the challenge, Brendan is finding the fasting tough but rewarding.

“At the start it was hard, not just the hunger but fitting it around a busy lifestyle. I gradually built the time I fasted up from six hours, to nine, to eventually completing a 24-hour fast. I chose a Friday to do it because you’re naturally in a good mood – timing is very important.

“If I find myself reaching for the biscuit tin I remember the little girl I’m sponsoring and it keeps me motivated. To know that my small sacrifice provides school books, clean water, and food on the table for a young girl and her family is a powerful motivator.”

Brendan is encouraging all people to get involved and enjoy the health benefits of fasting, including burning body fat and cleaning up harmful or dead cells.

However it’s not suitable for pregnant women or people with certain medical conditions, so always check with your doctor first.

For more information on Plan International and how to sponsor a child visit www.plan.ie or call 1800 829 829.

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