AN Ennis medical student is heading up a voluntary organisation that is planning to begin construction on a new healthcare centre in a Nepalese village this summer.
Draíocht founder Melanie Hennessy, who is currently studying medicine in National University of Ireland Galway, believes that the clinic could have a very positive impact on the village. It’s the latest challenge to be undertaken by the group, which was founded three years ago to provide for orphans in the rural community of Talamarang.
Twenty-year-old Melanie and her team of volunteers are looking forward to the upcoming visit to the Nepalese village to advance the latest phase of a multi-faceted project.
Stressing the importance of improving healthcare in the village, Melanie said, “These people really need this facility. At one stage, three of the 10 children we were caring for had become orphans because their mothers had died giving birth to them. Most of the women who die giving birth die from easily preventable causes. By building this health clinic, we hope to give those women and those families a chance.”
Educating the community on health issues is also a priority. “One of the biggest problems in the area is blindness. Smoke damage from indoor cooking and poor ventilation means that many locals, particularly women are suffering from severe eye damage. We aim to implement a number of initiatives from prevention to treatment to combat this problem,” she said.
The primary goal of the Draíocht healthcare centre is to lower the extremely high infant mortality and maternal (obstetrical) death rates in the village.
According to the UN, Nepal has an infant mortality rate or 53 per 1000, 11 times higher then Ireland.
Founded in 2007 to provide for orphans in Talamarang, Draíocht has already made a big difference, having successfully established an orphanage.
Draíocht was instrumental in the construction of a large school in the same Talamarang district in association with a local organisation, Team Nepal. The Talamarang school is a unique initiative that combines education and enterprise. Last year, the school topped the league table in exam results in the Nepali equivalent of the Leaving Certificate, the SLC.
Although Draíocht has official charity status in Nepal, the application process to become registered charity in Ireland is not yet complete. Draíocht expects to have full charity status in Ireland by July.
This summer, there are 20 Draíocht volunteers preparing to travel to Nepal to work on the ground. These volunteers will be involved in a wide range of work, from teaching in the school to caring for the children in the orphanage as well as physically constructing the clinic.
To raise funds for the construction of the new clinic, Draíocht will be holding a flag day on the streets of Ennis on Saturday and Melanie and her friends are hoping for strong support. All the money raised will go directly to orphanage and to the clinic.
In addition, Draíocht are in the process of recording a CD and will be hosting a fundraising ball in May. The CD will feature a wide range of music from around Ireland and the world.
For more information, contact Cormac Ó Briain on 086 3077210 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.