THE Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic, which has founded in Malawi by Dingle woman Mags Riordan, issued a call this week to plumbers, electricians, builders or those with repair or construction skills to volunteer for four months in the Chembe Village clinic that serves a catchment area of over 14,000 people.
Since opening in 2004, the Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic has cared for over 300,000 patients and currently carries-out over 25,000 patient treatments per year. What started out as an outpatient clinic now boasts a full inpatient facility with five doctors and nurses plus 32 local employees. From next year onwards they will also have a small surgical facility.
On a recent trip home to Dingle, founder Mags Riordan spoke to The Kerryman about what is currently happening at the clinic, which she founded in memory of her son Billy who died on holiday in Malawi in 1999.
"The project is way bigger than when we started, along with our inpatient facilities we have an under-five feeding programme, a schools treatment for over 2,000 children every six months for Bilharzia, which is sponsored by Cavan County Council and an educational sponsorship programme which has seen six young people from the village graduate from University," Mags explained.
"We also have a mosquito net distribution programme for families with young children to protect against malaria, a HIV/AIDS programme, which sees up to 800 attend every month for treatment and a student immunisation programme."
Since 2004, over 300 people have volunteered at the clinic which is also a field training provider for the Irish College of General Practitioners. Among those from West Kerry who have given their time there are Maureen Benison, Bríd Sullivan and Seamus McKenna from Dingle and Fergal MacCarthy from Glens. Dingle native Dr Peadar Ó Fionnáinn and his wife Máire are currently working at the clinic.
Mags, who herself spends eight months a year in Malawi, is now seeking volunteers who can mend, fix and repair.
"All volunteers are interviewed and must commit to at least four months with us," she said. "While volunteers from all walks of life can apply, at the moment I really need people who can mend things, build, fix pipes, paint, mend fuses, that sort of thing."
Anyone who wishes to volunteer can apply by visiting BillysMalawiProject.org. Anyone interested in fundraising can contact Mags via email mags (@) billysmalawiproject.org.