When the hour comes, the man comes, and sometimes the woman comes. Last week, as I stood next to a remarkable Cork woman, this old Greek proverb came to mind: “In hard times, the hero in all of us is revealed.”
aitriona Twomey, the driving force behind the charity Penny Dinners, had just returned from transporting 12 tons of medical supplies to the Polish-Ukrainian border and made no big fuss about it.
“My deceased parents would have expected nothing less from me, we are used to that in my family,” she explained with an objectivity that was as simple as it was eloquent.
Born to a father who served with the Irish Army in Congo and a mother who traveled with numerous aid convoys to war-torn Bosnia in the 1990s, Caitriona’s bloodline was signpost enough for a daughter’s desire to follow in such humanitarian footsteps to kick.
“People are afraid to follow their dreams. But for something like that, you set up a plan and execute it.”
In a world beset by female distress from Kyiv to Kabul, Caitriona presents herself as a 100-watt beam of doer optimism more at home in the fantasy of a Disney film.
“My volunteer life blossomed from watching my parents and grandmother and all the good, kind things they did along the way,” she told me of the influences that shaped her.
“Helping people is never a form of hardship, it’s the opposite of that.”
There’s a lot of love in Cork, she adds – a blessing visible daily, feeding and comforting the poor and needy at the ever-open penny dinners.
“It’s like a mini UN with a very common denominator – hearty laughter.
“Laughter is the same in all countries. At Penny Dinners we laugh a lot, often in different languages, but always the same.”
Each of the 365 days of the year brings a shuffling line of humanity to their door – all share the similar sadness, despair and confusion of fellow human beings who have fallen on hard times.
“We’re doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible to come to us with warmth and no judgments and no questions asked.”
When she tells me that it is a privilege to serve other people, it comes from a heart without artifice or attitude – only affection.
And then she describes this other daily line of humanity that also comes to the door of the penny dinner – who only want to give
“Everyone has their own unique way of giving and it’s so wonderful to witness it.
“Maybe they give you a quick hand squeeze or look you in the eye and say, ‘I just wanted to help.’
“You can feel the act of giving from the heart and it’s a powerful feeling.”
Scientists must bottle the essence of people like Caitriona Twomey – and all the ills of the world would be healed in the morning.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/bottle-the-essence-of-caitriona-for-the-good-of-the-world-41493439.html Bottle the essence of Caitriona for the good of the world