Millionaire swaps riches for rags to help city’s poor

A MILLIONAIRE with a background in global travel found a second home on Cork’s Shandon Street as an undercover benefactor.

Irish-born millionaire, Nadim Sadek, swapped life on his private island, Inish Turk Beg off the Mayo coast to spend eight days exploring charitable causes to support in Cork.

Four local charities will feature in RTÉ 1’s The Secret Millionaire, in which Nadim poses as incognito photojournalist, Liam Meehan.

The show’s first broadcast two weeks ago drew almost 650,000 viewers who watched emotional benefactor John Concannon from Galway give away €40,000 of his self-made fortune.

Tonight, in the third and final episode, the show follows Nadim’s research into a series of inspirational charities as he ditches riches for rags on Cork’s colourful Shandon Street.

“The flat was right on the street in Shandon, the bedroom rocked to the sound of the night life,” Nadim said.

Struggling to survive on the minimum wage for the first time in his life, Nadim’s budget for luxury stretched only as far as a nightly bag of chips.

“It’s not easy for anyone living on the minimum wage. You figure out the cost of toothpaste and toilet roll pretty fast,” he said.

Inspired by volunteers at Cois Tine, an outreach support network for immigrants, Nadim was touched by horror stories of refugees transported in containers in flights of desperation.

“It’s easy to be cynical but this group for me touched on the deepest issues of all. I heard horror stories of how people were transported to Ireland in containers to escape terrible conditions and war torn situations,.

“These volunteers operate on a policy of not asking questions, every face is welcome. It’s an incredibly supportive, positive and non-judgmental organisation,” Nadim said.

His photojournalist alias allowed him direct access to a series of charities including Cork Penny Dinners, which for him offered a poignant snapshot of “how the mighty have fallen”.

Amazed by the volume of meals produced each week (2,500), Nadim was struck by the organisation’s famine relief roots.

“I met a man in his 70s that had been going there since he was five.

“Now it is catering to a cross section of Irish society, for people who find themselves in hard places, it’s extraordinary,” he said.

Struck by the dynamic work of “incredible volunteers” Nadim developed on-going links with a number of charities and plans to stay in touch.

“I really paused for thought in my own life. It reminded me not to judge too quickly, that people often need a second or third chance,” he said.

* The show airs tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ 1.

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