Lenten fast to help raise funds for Kenyan hospital
THIS Lenten period sees priests and parishioners of the Arklow parish taking part in a fasting campaign to raise much needed funds for the Mutomo Hospital in Kenya.
The hospital – which is run by the Sisters of Mercy – caters primarily for women and children, and like many such facilities throughout the developing world, struggles to maintain its provision of services due to limitations on funding and resources.
Arklow Parish has for the last number of years held Good Friday fasts in aid of various charitable causes. However, this is the first year for a fasting campaign to be held throughout Lent, with participants fasting every Friday to raise funds for the hospital.
The initiative is the brainchild of parish priest Fr. Martin Cosgrave, who first visited the hospital in the early 2000s and was struck by the quality of care it provides to people in desperate need despite the severe limitations placed upon it.
'I have visited Kenya many times over the years,' he says. 'I have an interest in the developing world going back to my childhood, and prior to my ordination I was involved in fundraising activities, particularly in Kenya.
'When I was in Mourne Road parish in Drimnagh I became aware of this hospital in which was run by the Sisters of Mercy,' he goes on. 'I visited a number of times over the year and saw firsthand the work they were doing. It's one of those small hospitals you find all over the developing world – particularly Africa – that caters primarily for mother and child situations.
'I was very conscious that this little hospital was the difference between life and death for people. Its needs are so stark; it's not unusual for hospitals like that to have no money for medicine. You see family members bringing in food for relatives. It's hard to imagine from this distance how different it is from us here.'
It is this urgent need that compelled Fr. Cosgrave to break with tradition and extend the fasting fundraisers throughout the Lenten period.
'It's going to be a Lenten thing this year rather than just a Good Friday thing,' he explains. 'Traditionally, we would just fast on Good Friday, but this year we're hoping to have an emphasis on it each Friday of lent. The idea will be that people might put a little aside from whatever they save on food on a Friday. We will then get all the money in which we will send directly to the hospital – there's no middle man.'
The fast will begin on the first Sunday of Lent (March 9) and take place every Friday thereafter. Anyone who wants to get involved in the fast can contact Fr. Cosgrave directly on 0402 32294 or the parish office on 0402 31716 for a sponsorship card, which will also be distributed from the church over the coming Sundays. The parish is also planning some fundraising collections around the town during lent, and is hopeful that one of the Sisters working at the hospital will be able to travel over for the launch.