Ballineaspaig Parish in Cork is twinned with Turkwel parish in Turkana, Kenya. In the November ECI newsletter the parishioners reported on their Harvest Thanksgiving and Sharing Celebration, which included a Bring and Buy of locally grown produce, baking etc. with proceeds going towards the feeding programme in Turkwell.
Following on from this, they sold Christmas cards and gift certificates in December, with the proceeds going towards medical equipment and beds. Thanks to the generosity of the parishioners, they were able to send €3,000 to Fr. Ollie Noonan SMA, in response to which they received the following letter:
'I would like to express our sincere gratitude to you all for your generosity to the people of Turkana and especially in Turkwell. In the past you have helped in many ways to support different programs in the parish such as providing water for schools, supporting the rehabilitation of irrigations schemes and building the now famous Health Centre in Kalemunyang, all of which is a true testimony to that generosity. Not for the first time we have called again on you for help towards supporting the Health Centre in Lorugum which provides the medical care for many of the people in the Turkwell parish. In a country ten times the size of Ireland where Turkana County is approximately the size of Ireland, there are many demands on government health systems and while we wait for the national institutions to provide this and grow stronger, places like Turkwell will need help from generous people like yourselves. What is most important for us all to remember is that the bond of friendship and outreach to others can transform many situations of despair and fatalism in to ones of hope. When a pregnant woman has to walk ten kilometres to access health care in 35 degree heat, or when an elderly man needs to be treated for arthritis or a young baby needs treatment for malaria – the world becomes a better place for them when they can get the necessary help to alleviate their sickness. When you support us here in Turkana – this is what you do.
This year we are supporting a new wing to the health centre in Lorugum. There is need for it to be furnished with beds etc and that is the appeal we have made to you for this Christmas. We are very grateful for your support and we know that it will make a great contribution to the health and life of the people in this area.'
Closer to home, the parishioners organised a Christmas Gift initiative for children living in direct provision. Parishioners were invited to share the joy of Christmas by taking a gift card giving the name and age of a child, and to return the card with a wrapped gift. There was an immediate, warm response to their request, thanks to which they were able to ensure that every child in direct provision in Cork received a gift on Christmas morning.
The parishioners are proud that Ballineaspaig parish was the first in Ireland to be awarded Fairtrade Parish status by Fairtrade Ireland in 2006. They continue to actively promote the use of Fairtrade products in all local businesses and schools and organise special events every year during Fairtrade Fortnight.
Fairtrade Ireland organises an annual Conference. This year, the Conference was held in Cork and 2 of their members attended. Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 runs from 27th February to 12th March. The focus this year is on raising awareness of exploitation of farmers in countries such as Malawi, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire.
Lenten Talks - The Wonder of Creation
Ballineaspaig Parish will hold a series of talks during Lent under the title 'The Wonder of Creation'. They will take place on the four Tuesdays in March, at 8.00pm in the Crypt, Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Dennehy’s Cross, Cork.
The first, on 7th March, will be delivered by John Breen, an expert on Bees; the 2nd on 14th March will be by Tom Kelly, Ornithologist. The 3rd talk, on 21st March, will be given by Fr. Tim Carroll, who has a special interest in Cosmology. The final speaker, on 28th March, is Fr. Declan Mansfield, who will focus on scripture and its references to the wonders of the universe as God’s creation. All welcome!