David Profile (1)


Touched by the people of India during a holiday to Goa in 2002, David started taking groups of volunteers to help disadvantaged children and families in 2005. After thirteen years of ‘unofficial’ volunteer work with the charitable trust El Shaddai, David registered Goansever as an official social enterprise organisation in 2018.

David has spent over 30 years working with people in various settings, including 24 years as a Social Worker and six years as Church and Community Youth Worker. He currently lives in Antrim with his wife Jacqueline and three adult children and two grandchildren. David also sits on Goanserve’s Board of Trustees.



Hi my name is Barbara form Antrim in Northern Ireland. I went to Goa with Goanserve because I wanted to do something like volunteering. I know some people who had travelled with Goanserve before and was interested in listening about the experiences they had.

I ended up going on the trip after David had met me looking for some business advice. During the conversation I thought this is definitely something I now have to do as the opportunity has been put right into my lap.

I was sceptical at the beginning, not sure about what I may find when I arrived in Goa. I wondered if the children were being properly cared for and if the El Shaddai charity were even legitimate. My concerns were soon done away with as I became reassured by what I experienced and in meeting the other volunteers.

I wasn’t looking for a life changing experience. I thought my life was ok the way it was. However, I was fearful of seeing things that would leave me heartbroken but what I saw was amazing. I realised, ‘these people don’t need my pity, they just need my help.’

Being part of a team was fantastic for me. Realising that others had skills and abilities I didn’t have and could do things I couldn’t do helped me so much. I went on the trip just to be Barbara. Being with others I didn’t know allowed me to be who I was while I built relationships by finding out so much about the others in the tem. A great thing to being part of a team is that one person holds another up and we were all able to give something different. The other team members helped me become braver. They would suggest going into Mapusa or riding on a Tut Tut which I wouldn’t do on my own and having our team briefing every night in Jack Fruit the nearby cafe was brilliant. Being able to do so many things together as a team and how we all leaned on each other was so beneficial. This was so much different to just going away with a bunch of friends. I was able to be me and connect with others I had never met to do amazing things.

The highlight of my trip was meeting the kids of El Shaddai as well as the people who live in the slums. That opened my eyes to real India – the culture and the hardships of women raising their families in the slums. This was part of my take away moment; Not to pity these people but to realise they did need my help. When I came home I realised, ‘they had so little yet had so much while I had so much but so little.’

My response to anyone thinking of going is, why would you not go? Go and see what you have got and what you really have not got. It humbles you to understand that what we think is awful is a hundred times worse for these people.



Together with Anita Edgar, Mathew founded the El Shaddai Charitable Trust in 1997. El Shaddai is an ISO certified NGO in Goa, with several projects in the areas of education, child protection, women empowerment and advocacy for the rights of children.

“El Shaddai exists to open Homes, Shelters, and Community Centres for street, slum, and underprivileged children providing them with the basic necessities of life, so as to develop their personalities leading to a brighter future.” Extract from El Shaddai’s website https://childrescue.net

Caroline Thumbnial


I can hand on heart say that volunteering with the El Shaddai children in India has changed my life. Their positive and grateful outlook on life, leaves a lasting impression on everyone they meet and seeing their joy through the sadness of their circumstance, is so inspiring.

I first met the El Shaddai family in November 2017 on a solo volunteering trip for 6 weeks. After another 2 solo volunteering visits to Goa in 2018, I teamed up with Goanserve to coordinate a team of volunteers for a 2 week trip in November 2019, for 4 volunteers from the UK and Ireland. The whole planning and organising part of the trip was amazing for me and I learnt so much. I loved volunteering on my own, but thanks to Goanserve, I now know how much I love sharing the experience with others.”

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