Tuesday, 18 November 2014

An update - 18th November 2014

Our current total stands at €5,379.00.
Thanks to you all!
We hope to get to €6,000 before Christmas.

About twenty-five hardy souls braved the elements ten days ago.
The rain drummed down on our attic window in the early morning but mercifully stopped for about 90 minutes around 11.00 am as we were heading off on our walk.

Tea and cakes were provided at both ends of the pilgrimage courtesy of neighbours and family.
Our thanks to the Quakers in Monkstown for lending us their facilities.

(Wo)man of the walk was Irene who arrived in good time who wisely took a 30 minutes head start (she had walked from Blackrock first, after all!).. Irene taught in Sierra Leone many years ago after war broke out in neighbouring Nigeria where she had been working.

There is a nice photo in the Medecins Sans Frontieres blog of Irene and myself before we head off.
website: http://www.msf.ie/event/padraic-murrays-family-and-friends-walk .

There have been great advances in fighting Ebola since this blog was first launched.
Governments around the world have reacted with purpose and generosity.
Fear and panic has been replaced with a resolve to deal with the virus.

We still hope for a breakthrough vaccine.
We daily remember the hundreds of volunteers, overseas and local, who are risking their lives at this very moment.
We are pleased that the Irish Government and the Irish people have reacted with such enthusiasm.
We wish Bob Geldof and company well.

We think of the victims. Those who die a terrible death and the happy ones who survive.
We and they are in debt to Medecins sans Frontieres and others who toil in the field.

We wish the volunteers well and hope we can find a way of acknowledging their great work.

Over and out.

For now!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Midweek update 5th November 2014

(view over Clew Bay from Croagh Patrick)

We have all been in training during the week for the Saturday walk.
Some neighbours are joining us on the walk.
Some are baking cakes for the walkers.

We had a great surge in offline donations yesterday.
And a very generous second donation of €250 from a founding supporter this morning.
Thanks to you and to all who have given!

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
Everyone, but everyone applauds the work of MSF.
We keep the MSF volunteers (and other charities too) daily in our thoughts.

Logistics permitting, we will have cake and coffee at the end of the walk too.

Roll on Saturday..............

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Some really good news, though no champagne

In Ireland its tomorrow, but my computer is linked to Blogger in the US who thinks it's still yesterday.

Whatever day it is, the news that arrived in the last few minutes via the BBC is exceptionally good.
We seem to be turning the corner in Liberia.

Obama, always a rock of good sense, warns us not to lose the plot. A lot done, a lot more to be done.

Well done the courageous aid workers in West Africa who have risked their lives, and continue to do so!

It will be an honour and perhaps with some relief we will walk in solidarity with them in ten days time.

A profitable first day

Overnight we collected our first €100. My good friend Barry was the first to donate. By this evening we have banked €1,200 and people have very kindly paid the 6% commission charged by mycharity.ie (they have to live too, I guess).  Thanks everyone!

We have had promises of about the same again (you are very generous, you know who you are!). So we are quietly confident of reaching our target of €5,000.

Money isn't everything, but it sure helps.

MSF have given me fact sheets for anyone who wants them. I also have five tee shirts (three medium and two large). I wore my tee shirt round Woodies today and got some interesting looks. I might go again tomorrow when it is full of over 60's. Most importantly we have balloons.

Hopefully the walk will raise awareness of the issue. It would be great if other families held fund raising for MSF or other charities. Lorraine tells me that the Brinish public are mobilising behind a charity to combat Ebola. In some ways I am surprised that we have been so slow in Ireland to help out. Traditionally we are very generous with our time and money. Maybe people are still coping with their concerns and fears.

I am very proud of the Irish who are serving in MSF, in Goal, Concern and other organisations at the forefront of the battle against Ebola.

Some neighbours have offered to join us on the walk. We have provided for the Quakers to open the Meeting House from 10.00 on Saturday week to offer teas coffees and cakes for walkers and supporters.

An army always marches on its stomach.


Why bring the dogs?

As every dog lover knows, dogs are human too. Indeed they are often more human than their masters. Dogs can be happy or sad, generous or possessive. They can grieve for departed companions canine and human.

Dogs give us an insight into the marvellous miracle of nature. The more we learn about animals the more we are in awe of them. The more we realise how much we have in common with the animal world.

If I was to divide my life in two, I would say that I spent the first fifty years taking everything for granted and the past thirteen marvelling at everything, amazed that anything works.

Our dogs, similar to almost every dog we know, love walking. They have proved cheaper than a gym and more enjoyable. Every day sees us climb Dalkey or Killiney Hills, occasionally both. Being small and white and fluffy means that a twenty minute walk regularly takes forty as people stop and pet them. It is impossible to walk the Hills without most people saluting you. Very uncitylike (word-spell doesn't like this word, but I do).

As we walk Dun Laoghaire Pier on Saturday week we may spare a thought for Excalibur, the dog who once belonged to the Spanish nurse Teresa Romero who courageously administered to the two dying Spanish missionaries in Madrid. Most people in Spain, myself included, felt the dogs death was an unnecessary overreaction.

Hopefully Excalibur will be the last unnecessary sacrifice in this important battle. Meanwhile the Murray dogs have been in training for the big day.

Why a family walk?

Some people do really amazing things for charities.
Running a marathon is fairly amazing.

At my age I have to throw pretence out the window.
There is no way I could start a marathon, never mind finish one.

And if I am to be truly honest, I want the moral force of the aid project rather than my puny efforts to persuade friends and family to give to a cause which has kept me awake for the past two weeks.

I feel a little like Cato the Elder who muttered 'Carthago delenda est' for years. The Ebola crisis is like few others and one we cannot afford to loose. Each round we lose will make the next exponentially harder.

Faced with the brutality of the French Revolution, Voltaire concluded 'il fait cultiver notre jardin', which translated into Chinese means 'it's better to light one candle than curse the darkness'. A family walk with friends is as much and as little as we can manage.

I have not raised money for charity for some years, feeling that with the recession many people were 'charitied out'. Now however, with the zeal of a religious convert I feel that this should be everyone's problem. Not just my nightmare.

A family walk is something that every family can do. So hopefully the Murray experiment will not be the first or last.

Being November (8th) it could even be snowing. That would give it an heroic allure.

But hopefully not.


Why Medecins sans Frontieres?

I have admired MSF form a distance for some years and have made sporadic donations.
Through the internet I have followed their great work in combatting Ebola.

I like to know who I am dealing with, whether it is a Bank or a supplier, a professional or a charity. |I am of a generation who likes to see the other party face to face rather than transact business via an impersonal e mail.

After doing extensive research on the net I decided to drop into the MSF offices in Dublin yesterday, a rainy Tuesday that had seen our monthly Wicklow walk called off due to the inclement weather. I parked the car in Fitzwilliam Square and went searching for MSF in 9-11 Lower Baggot Street. I quickly discovered my mistake. I had to turn round and head for 9-11 UPPER Baggot Street in the rain.

Sharing a building above a cafĂ© with architects and hairdressers was the MSF Irish office. I arrived during lunch hour and without an appointment. Through all my years in business I liked the opportunity to meet people as they are.

I explained my purpose and a young lady kindly listened to me for a minute or two while her colleague arrived who was involved in fundraising.  She listened carefully and positively to my plans. She came up with good suggestions and gave me materials for my proposed sponsored walk (which then became a 'family' walk) including tee shirts, leaflets and most importantly balloons.

She gave me as much time as I needed. Only when leaving she explained that she was covering for a colleague who was out of the office. This is the kind of spirit that attracts me. 24 hours later I am reading about a man who died upon discharge from a hospital in Port Laois and two off duty doctors found themselves unable to leave their lunch to attend to him. It sure is a funny old world!

Lorraine and I are committed to raising €5,000 specifically for Ebola. MSF unusually don't allow specific targeting of donations but in this case they will. We will also give to other Irish aid agencies including Goal whom I visited earlier in the day.

It's always the little things that make the difference. Its the friendly voice of the receptionist, the willingness to meet during lunch, the offer of walking the extra mile. It seems to me, the organisations that get the small things right get the big ones right too.

I am delighted and honoured to be partnering with MSF in the effort to help the helpers.

Post Script. After this is finished and hopefully we will start winning the battle before the end of the year I hope to make arrangements to support them into the future.

EBOLA - what's so different?

EBOLA - so what's different?

In one sense it is no different to other diseases that ravage the people of Africa every year. In other senses it is very different
We have no vaccine as of today, 29th October 2014
Of the 10,000 people affected, around five thousand have died. 500 aid workers have contracted the disease and approx. 50% have died.
Despite significant First World medical resources, aid workers treating patients in Spain and the USA have contracted the disease. This has given us all a shock which time has really done little to allay.
WHO predicts the weekly rate of infection could rise to 10,000 by December, only five weeks away, and the mortality rate varies between 50% and 70%.
There is a belief that many illnesses and deaths go unreported in Africa.
There is a big chance that the disease will mutate, a small chance that it may become airborne.
In the grand scheme of things a few billion dollars should be able to sort it and finally most countries are manning up.
It is not clear that we have a sufficient number of volunteers.
It is clear that various Governments and US States have decided to politicise the issue with potential dire consequences for their own citizens.
Unless we treat the helpers better and support them, who in their right mind would risk life and limb?
It has become a test of character, courage and integrity which some important are failing.
Obama and Cameron to their credit have led from the front.
The Irish Government has suffered good days and bad days in their response.
The world generally has shown little gratitude to the medical personnel who have risked their lives for their patients and for us.
If we don't solve the problem in Africa, the First World doesn't stand a chance. It struggles to deal with isolated victims, how would it deal with thousands?
I am convinced that if our altruism does not lead us to solve the problem, our self interest will have to.
We are been given a few precious weeks to catch up on disease before it starts to lap us.
I am hopeful we can win and confident that we will win, but only with huge effort and resolve