WHILE the rest of his Danesfort club mates are celebrating winning the Intermediate hurling league, Richie Hogan is preparing for his biggest challenge yet.
The four-time All-Ireland medal winner is taking part in the Haven for Haiti build-it week. For one week from October 29, Richie Hogan will swap his hurling helmet for a hard hat as he helps build 50 new houses for displaced Haitians.
The charity Haven for Haiti invited Richie to Haiti but when he first received the invitation he wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of travelling to the Caribbean island.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘what would I be going out there for?’ But once it registered in my head I realised it would be a great opportunity. I mean, it would be nice to do something like that and it would be a great experience for me personally and it is a fantastic charity. I thought while I’m in the position to go, and especially with the week off. I’m really looking forward to it now to be honest,” he said.
Willie Mullins from Danesfort had put the idea of taking part in the building project to the Kilkenny hurling star. With the dates for the trip coinciding with the mid-term break of the school where Mr Hogan teaches, he couldn’t say no.
Any knowledge that the four-time All-Ireland medal winner has of Haiti has come through his teaching. He was teaching third class in Ballymun when Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake almost two years ago.
As part of the geography syllabus, Mr Hogan and his third-class students did a number of projects on the Caribbean country as it was in the news at the time. With just a couple of days to go before he sets off for Haiti, he’s trying to dig out the students’ projects. “I’ll have to get around to looking up the third-class students’ projects to brush up on knowledge, at least that’s the plan before we go,” he said.
When he does get out there he will be faced with long hot days of work on building sites that will be the match of even the toughest of Kilkenny senior hurling endurance training. In the week that he’ll be there the charity is planning to build 50 earthquake-proof homes for local families outside of the Haitian capital Port au Prince.
It won’t be Mr Hogan’s first time on a building site though. “When I was a teenage like everybody I spent three years during the summers labouring. I was doing a bit of carpentry and stuff, I’d be handy enough I wouldn’t be that much out of place but I wouldn’t be a trades man,” he said.
He’ll have to draw on all of his experience to help paint, plaster and roof the 50 specialised homes that the charity is hoping to have finished before the week is up.
Finishing up is exactly what Mr Hogan is most looking forward to. He expects that seeing people move from the temporary camps that they have been living in since the earthquake, into new homes will make all the work worthwhile.
“I suppose the end of it is what I’m most looking forward to, the fact that you can look back on people moving in and know that you played a part in making that happen,” he said.
“We will have walked into an empty space at the start and we will have filled that with 50 houses. I think that going to be an unbelievable sort of a moment, to be able to stand back and look at loads of families moving in to 50 new houses. That has to be the highlight of it. Even the whole building atmosphere is great, it’s good craic. You always have good craic on a building site even when you are working away. I imagine it’ll be the same out there and probably even better.”
Mr Hogan never expected that playing hurling would eventually end up in him travelling halfway around the world to help build homes. “I was just called out of the blue and asked, ‘Is there any chance you could come out and do this for me?’ I didn’t have time to think about it I just said, ‘Sure I’ll go’. If I wasn’t hurling there are an awful lot of things like that, that I wouldn’t be able to do or it wouldn’t even cross my mind to do. It comes as part of it and you kind of feel obliged to stuff like that because you know I’m in a sort of privileged position. It is one of the stranger things has happened to me, but sure it’ll be a good thing.”