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Colman Farrell

Suas / Level 2

Awardee 2004

Suas / Level 2
Johnie K
Salome Mbugua Henry

Suas is a youth and education focused organisation, which facilitates young people to address educational disadvantage at home and overseas.

The Challenge

Educational disadvantage and literacy problems are pressing matter both in Ireland and around the world. Studies have shown that children who do not learn to read, write and communicate effectively at primary level are more likely to leave school early, be unemployed, have poorer emotional and physical health and are more likely to end up in poverty and in prison. The resultant impact on society is not just economic but also results in a negative effect on children's achievement of their full potential.

Colman originally studied Medicine at Trinity College Dublin. On completion of his medical internship he volunteered as a relief worker during the Rwandan Refugee Crisis in 1994. He returned to Africa one year later, moving to Nairobi, Kenya, where he supported a group of local people to establish the Gatoto Community School in order to provide high quality, affordable education to children in the slums. Today, the school has over 1,000 pupils and regularly wins prizes at a national level in sports and music.
On his return to Ireland, Colman obtained a Masters in Multimedia from Trinity College, before pursuing a career across both the private and non-profit sectors.

The Idea

The original vision for Suas was an education-focused overseas development agency that would facilitate the involvement of student volunteers. It came out of the work of the St. Vincent De Paul society in Trinity College.
Colman first became involved with Suas during its early stages and became Chairperson in June 2003. He left his role as Organisational Development Manager in Enterprise Ireland in January of 2004 to join Suas full-time and became CEO in April 2004. Under Colman’s leadership, the fundraising base of the organisation was consolidated and significant quality improvements were made in Suas’ programmes.

The Impact

By 2004 Suas had overseas education programmes with partners in New Delhi, Kolkata, Nairobi and Mombasa and had developed a volunteer and development education programme that was increasingly recognised for quality and innovation.
Suas now has a network of twelve student societies across Ireland engaged in a variety of voluntary activities. It runs an annual programme of 24 evening courses and speaker events nationwide that aim to engage and inspire the wider public to participate in social change. Its’ overseas volunteering programme supports and trains 90 participants each year and provides support to schools and education NGOs across India & Kenya.

Colman left Suas in 2013 and is now Co-founder and Director of Learning for the School for Social Entrepreneurs, which is being incubated for its first few months within Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. It will welcome its first 25 social entrepreneurs who have an idea for a project or business that will benefit their community in April 2014.

Colman Farrell, Impact Award, 2004


Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Lower Ground Floor, 11/12 Warrington Place, Dublin 2
Phone: +353 1 685 3191, Email: info@socialentrepreneurs.ie

Company No: 433846, Registered Charity No: CHY 17524, © SEI 2016

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