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Charlie McGrath

Charlie fundraising for Kenyan project

KILKEE man Charlie McGrath is fundraising for a volunteer working trip to Kenya next January. While in Mombasa for a fortnight in 2016, the retired fire fighter, who operates a fuel business in Kilkee, will spend his time working with a Ray of Sunshine Foundation building project.
As part of his efforts to raise €3,000, Charlie is organising a concert with TR Dallas in the Kilkee Bay Hotel on Friday night.
“It’s all in aid of building a rescue centre in Mombasa, Kenya. It’s in support of the work of Dr Rory O’Keeffe, from Ennis, who is the medical supervisor in that centre. This is my third trip to Kenya,” Charlie told The Clare Champion.
“The first time I was there, we built a rescue centre for blind children. We then built an extension to an overcrowded school and this time we’re building a medical centre for children who have been through difficult times.
“It’s taking 200 volunteers to complete this in six weeks and they are still looking for people to go out there. You have to raise €3,000. Hopefully, this fundraiser will get me over the line,” Charlie added, before outlining his reasons for getting involved.
“What motivated me is that these children have no-one else to support them out there. When they see the white man, they know that something is going to be done for them.
“To see the smile on their faces is uplifting. Even the children who are blind can recognise your voice. It’s a heart-breaking experience. I’m overcome by emotion every time I go out there. That’s why I keep going back there. They’d eat the rubbish that we put in a dustbin. They’d go through that,” he reflected.
Charlie says his time in East Africa has changed his outlook on life.
“It has. I know things are bad on our own doorstep but some people in Mombasa live in horrendous situations. When they work with us, they work in their bare feet.
“I come home and I wouldn’t have a stitch of clothes on me. I give them all away. I’d have nothing left in the suitcase. It’s brilliant to be able to do it,” he noted.
The Kilkee man has found that even giving a simple item, like a football, to the children he deals with is well received.
By Peter O’Connell

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