Don your glad rags to de­liver glitz for or­phans in Haiti

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Gráinne McGuin­ness

An event in the Clay­ton Sil­ver Springs Ho­tel on Fri­day hopes to raise much-needed funds for a Cork-based char­ity, the Haiti Or­phan­age Project ESPWA (HOPE).

The char­ity works to sup­port vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and the or­gan­i­sa­tions car­ing for them in the coun­try still feel­ing the ef­fects of a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in 2010.

One of the co-founders, taxi driver John O’Con­nell said he orig­i­nally went out with Haven to build houses in Haiti, in 2010, and when we got back two of us from Cork got and said we will do some­thing for kids,” he said. “John Cronin and my­self got some peo­ple to­gether and we formed our own char­ity. What we do is we go into an or­phan­age and we bring it up to cer­tain stan­dard con­struc­tion­wise. That would be foot­paths, wheel­chair ac­cess, im­prov­ing the liv­ing con­di­tions for the kids in the house. ”

They are cur­rently help­ing a mas­sive or­phan­age run in part by a Mayo wo­man, Gena Her­aty, and Mr O’Con­nell said there is years of work ahead of them to get the or­phan­age to the stan­dard they as­pire to.

“It is a huge or­phan­age, called Kay Chris­tine. There are 360 kids on-site liv­ing there, another 500 come in ev­ery day for school­ing and food and they have be­tween 50 and 60 dis­abled chil­dren there all the time.

“We started there in March 2015 and I ex­pect we will be there for another five or six years.”

As word of their work spread, the char­ity were con­tacted by peo­ple who had dona­tions they felt could be of use to the project.

The ini­tial do­na­tion of hospi­tal equip­ment from a hos­pi­to­gether tal in Mullingar has since been added to con­sid­er­ably and Mr O’Con­nell was keen to pay trib­ute to the many Ir­ish busi­nesses and bod­ies who sup­port their ef­forts.

“Celtic Linen, who sup­ply hos­pi­tals and ho­tels, turn over their stock ev­ery so of­ten and we get ev­ery­thing new from them - bed­sheets, hospi­tal scrubs, down to even ho­tel cur­tains which were turned into table­cloths.

Med­i­cal equip­ment is highly valu­able and Cork Univer­sity Hospi­tal are reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tors. “I col­lect from a com­pany called 3R Mo­bil­ity, who make wheel­chairs.”

Cork’s Com­mu­nity Boat­yard, Meitheal Mara, and Naomhóga Chor­caí sent two flat pack cur­rachs and two vol­un­teers also went to teach the lo­cals how to build them to re­place the fish­ing boats lost in the earth­quake.

“Ev­ery­thing we get is free, our big­gest is­sue is fund­ing the ship­ping of the con­tainer. It comes to €5,500 to €6,000 per con­tainer, John said.

Grant En­gi­neer­ing are very good to us and give us dona­tions to­wards the cost of the con­tain­ers.”

No­body is em­ployed by the char­ity, some­thing Mr O’Con­nell was keen to em­pha­sise. “We gen­er­ally run three trips to Haiti a year and when we fly out, each in­di­vid­ual pays for their own flights. ”

To sup­port their work, the group are hold­ing an event in the Clay­ton Sil­ver Springs Ho­tel on Fri­day. Doors open at 7pm and tick­ets will be avail­able on the door.

Well known Cork DJ Rock­ing Jerry will pro­vide the back­ground mu­sic for a fash­ion show, fol­lowed by live mu­sic from The Laugh­ing Sham­rocks. There will also be spot prizes and an auc­tion on the night.

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