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2003-08-26 Basil Love

When I watch the news and hear of a tragic car crash on the Irish roads in which maybe one or two people have been killed, I react as one does, with sadness, thinking of all the people who may be affected by the fatal accident.

 

Often further down the same bulletin we may listen as we are told of the eradication of an entire community by some natural disaster or even worse still, by ethnic cleansing. The news-reader may talk in hundreds, thousands even, and for that reason our minds are simply unable to cope with the scale of the horrific tragedy, just like when we heard and even witnessed the horrific spectacle on 9/11. Such was the case also in 1994 on hearing of the appalling genocide in Rwanda. Over one million men, women and children were brutally slaughtered.

Over two million fled to neighbouring countries. As a high percentage of adults were murdered, thousands of orphans ended up roaming the streets, homeless and hungry. We had heard it all before of course, and sadly we will probably hear it again, as history has an unfortunate habit of repeating itself.

 

The lucky ones eventually get to return home, but their homes and towns have been destroyed. They are destitute, penniless and possessionless with no future. They need everything. In 1989, an Irish aid agency called "Refugee Trust" was set up, and since then it has gathered huge overseas experience, with aid going to many areas from Eritrea to Afghanistan, and the Irish people as always have proved most supportive.

 

The RTI is a Dublin-based non-governmental organisation which "promotes development and reconciliation through sustainable assistance".

 

Way back in my Model school days, I remember it being explained to me that rather than giving these people a fish, it was far more useful in the long term to actually teach them how to fish. The Refugee Trust in Ireland provides initial emergency relief in disaster zones, long-term rehabilitation, developing the people's potential, while at the same time raising the public's awareness of the vast and ongoing worldwide refugee problem. Relief and assistance is supplied and the people are slowly enabled to live with dignity, self-sufficiency and basic human rights by means of a good education, and through economic development.

Returning refugees are supplied with seeds and building and farm materials that help to revitalise their communities. Otherwise, a short life on the streets awaits these unfortunates. Single mothers resort to selling their bodies. Children develop habits such as glue addictions, or themselves go into prostitution. Aids is on the increase, and death by disease, beating or starvation is often the only outlook for a Rwandan street-child.

 

A climb of Mount Kilimanjaro has been organised by the RTI along with former Irish aid workers and Defence forces personnel who have already spent time working in Rwanda and elsewhere. Between November 29th and December 11th the volunteers will witness first-hand the sub-human standards of living and sanitation in this part of Africa by visiting some slums on the outskirts of Nairobi, and then they will proceed to scale Africa's highest mountain in order to boost the Rwandan street children appeal.

 

Also way back in my Model school days, one of my best school-pals was Rosses Point man Basil Love. Sligo can be proud to say that Basil is on that climb, and as a fundraising event he has organised an evening of music by several Sligo musicians at the Hawk's Well theatre on Tuesday September 16th at 8pm.

Kathleen O'Hara, Siobhá¡n Terry, James Blennerhassett, Michael Nielsen, Niamh Crowley and myself will all get together to help Basil raise the 4500 he needs for this worthy cause.

 

If you are not free, or simply do not want to come for whatever reason, you can contact Basil by email at basil.love@nw.fas.ie or make a donation to the RTI bank account at the AIB in Stillorgan in Dublin - Account number 14785036 (Sort Code 93-35-70).

 

Please forgive the 'in your face advertising'. I honestly don't make a habit of advertising my own gigs, but I am sure you will agree it is a worthwile cause.

Thank you.

 

http://www.hawkswell.com/
http://www.refugeetrust.org/index.htm