Joining Ryan Tubridy in studio was a lady he knows from his time in Ethiopia whom he describes as “a bit of a dynamo”. Mary T Murphy has spent over thirty years working with some of the world’s poorest people in a number of African countries and is being honoured with a Presidential Distinguished Service Award which Ryan says is richly deserved. Mary is a trained nurse from Cork and has worked across many medical disciplines.
“Most of my work when I would be in Africa, it’s nursing, management and nutrition… I did a masters in nutrition and exercise science to give me a bit more support in that work and I’ve been mostly in emergency response programmes where there’s a big need for nutrition response and where they’re malnourished and also water and sanitation and hygiene promotion, those would be the main areas I work in in Ethiopia”
Mary works now as the refugee programme manager for Goal in Ethiopia but was on the scene in the wake of the Rwanda genocide, during which a million people died in a hundred days.
“I got there in ‘94 and it was just a couple of months after the genocide had happened and the refugees had fled into the Congo. People were dying of cholera… We set up a refugee camp for 26,000 refugees from Rwanda and Goal managed everything at the time. It was camp management, food distribution, health and nutrition, shelter, everything. Even registration on arrival, some of my colleagues were checking and people were vaccinated on arrival.”
Mary says it’s difficult to know where to start when there are so many in need.
“There are so many humanitarian crises all over the world and there’s so much need but when you’re in the group and you see specific families and you know individuals, we try and support with whatever we can.”
When it comes to Christmas, Mary prefers to come home to Ireland in January, after the seasonal rush and madness has passed.
“It can be a bit overwhelming when you come from Ethiopia and refugee settings and you come into a lot of materialism. I try and stay with my friends and stay away from a bit of it, keep grounded and go out for a few nice walks!”
Mary says if you feel inspired to volunteer, contacting Goal is a great first step.
Photo credit: Express/Express/Getty Images
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