(United Dioceses of Cashel, Ferns, Leighlin, Lismore, Ossory & Waterford)

Robbie Pedalling for Health – Home and Away

Robbie Syme is taking to his bicycle once more.

Having cycled around Ferns Diocese last year in aid of the organ in St Mary’s church Enniscorthy, this year his focus is on health issues both at home and overseas. Following some comments that Robbie’s endeavours were only around a part of the diocese, this year he will undertake a visit to all six cathedrals of our joint diocese from Ferns to Old Leighlin, to Kilkenny, to Cashel, to Lismore and finally to Waterford.

This year Robbie is seeking to raise funds for two extremely worthy causes, firstly the Home element, to assist the fundraising for an M R I scanner for Wexford General Hospital, and the Away portion is to raise money for a roof for a health centre in Nyamagana which is a district of Shyogwe diocese in Rwanda.

The need for a new MRI scanner in Wexford General is well documented. The community has undertaken to raise 250,000 euro towards the cost of this scanner and currently the fund stands at some 150,000 euro. It is hoped that the funds raised in this venture will help in some small way in reaching the target. After all Charity begins at home!!

The “away” portion is a really important cause as the provision of a health centre in Rwanda changes the whole provision of health services to a community.

Robbie has been visiting Rwanda since 2002 along with a group of friends from Whitechurch Parish in Dublin, and to date the group, loosely formed into the ”Friends of Shyogwe Diocese” have succeeded in contributing towards the upgrading of two dispensaries to health centres.

The original dispensaries consisted of one-roomed buildings which just dispensed some medicines whereas the upgraded health centres provides primary health care to approximately 25,000 people.

This healthcare in particular provides safe childbirth and maternity services along with the care of minor illnesses, fractures etc. The centres also provide HIV/AIDS treatment and most importantly, are allowed to operate the “Mutuel” – this is a form of health insurance which while costing in our terms a very small amount – €1.30 per adult per year – it gives the insured access to subsidized medicines and access to the health centre.

In Rwanda there are hospitals but they are very overcrowded and they find it difficult to deal with small cases, childbirth etc. so the health centres are vital in improving the health of the community.

An example of the effect is that infant mortality has been almost eliminated from communities which have access to the health centres. The health centres also provide young mothers with nutritional advice and operate the World Health Immunisation Programme. As an incentive to prospective mothers, the health centre offers mosquito nets to those who sign up for antenatal classes. This has greatly reduced the incidence of malaria which is still a killer in Rwanda. The Local Bishop regards the provision of health centres as a central plank of the church’s mission.

As many people may know Robbie suffered a heart attack approximately two years ago and as he says he survived thanks to God and to the God-given skill of a good surgeon. This venture is therefore partly a celebration of a return to fitness together with a wish to continue supporting the mission of the diocese of Shyogwe where the church is giving hope to a community with very few resources. Please therefore support this venture as best you can.

To date, the community in Nyamagana, with funding from Ireland largely organised by Canon Ian Poulton, former rector of Clonenagh, who was centrally involved in the initiation of this project, have completed the walls of the health centre building up to roof level. However, further funding of approximately €9000 is required in order to erect the roof.

It is hoped that the funds from Robbie’s cycle together with some further fundraising by the “friends of Shyogwe diocese” will be sufficient. Currently it is envisaged that a group from Clonenagh parish will travel to Rwanda to assist in the physical completion of the roof structure, thus enabling the building to be well on the way to completion by the end of 2018.

Rwanda as a country was ranked the 17th poorest country in the world in 2016. While incomes in Rwanda have improved over the past 10 years or so as the country recovered from the dreadful genocide, wages are still only some €1.50 per day and most of the population are subsistence farmers with very little land. Nyamagana is a community and parish in Shyogwe diocese in Rwanda. It is envisaged that approximately 25,000 people will be allocated to the health centre when completed.

Nyamagana is roughly 50 miles southwest from Kigali which is the capital of Rwanda and some 30 miles from the border with Burundi. It is a mostly rural community surrounding the town of Ruhango, which is the provincial centre.

In Rwanda, if the community provides the infrastructure, the government will employ and pay the medical staff of the health centre and will provide the medicines. To date it has been largely the churches that have provided the health centre buildings and in Shyogwe diocese Nyamagana is the last of the five dispensaries to be upgraded to health centre status. The effect on the communities of the other health centres in the diocese has been marked with the incidence of malaria much reduced and infant mortality all but eliminated. Thus, it is hard to over-emphasize the need to complete Nyamagana health centre and the project is one which the ”Friends of Shyogwe diocese” really want to complete.

Robbie’s proposed Pedalling schedule is as follows:

Ferns Cathedral  22nd April

Old Leighlin         23rd

St Canices           24th

Cashel                 25th

Lismore               26th

Waterford           27th

See poster above.

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