CORK volunteers are sending a 40-foot container with medical equipment and clothes to Haiti, which was again devastated by a major earthquake in recent days.
The essential items were loaded in a yard in Dripsey on Saturday, ahead of a voyage which normally takes around five weeks.
It is the work of Project ESPWA, an Irish charity established in 2011 by a group of volunteers in response to the devastating earthquake that struck the island of Haiti in 2010. ESPWA is the creole word for ‘Hope’, a theme the group plan to make central to their vision for the future.
The group works directly with the Haitian orphanage system to create safe and secure environments for the children in their care. Cork volunteer John O’Connell said this latest container is in response to the current situation in Haiti.
“It will be carrying emergency aid such as bandages and IV medication which will be necessary," he said. "We will also be bringing over mattresses, hospital beds, PPE gear, gloves, and clothes.
The charity maintains a regular supply line of relief aid shipped directly from Ireland, everything from hospital beds to wheelchairs, bicycles, shoes, filing cabinets, construction supplies to clothing, and first aid to help families who are affected by widespread poverty in their respective countries.
Project ESPWA, which has a team of six volunteers, has already shipped out six containers to various impoverished countries this year. They have another two containers ready to go to Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
John, who works full-time as a taxi driver, likes to ‘give back’.
“We have been shipping containers since 2016," he said. "I met John Cronin on my first trip to Haiti in 2010. We decided to get more people involved and do something for children. We started off doing trips to orphanages.
"Our plan is to bring an orphanage up to a certain level. Once we achieve that we then move on to the next project. Our next project will be a school project in Honduras.
"We personally know some of the people who were killed in the latest earthquake as we worked with them previously. I enjoy it and I have the time to do it. I do my taxi driving at night and I do a bit towards this every day."
Project ESPWA is a non-denominational, non-governmental and non-political organisation that rely exclusively on public fundraising.
The Cork volunteer said generous donations from supporters ensure they continue to provide a vital service.
“The shipping costs for the container are €5,000 alone," he said. "To buy a container costs €4,250. "We buy the container as it can be converted to be used for a clinic or a school over there. We struggle with finance as we are not well known. We have a couple of people who give us a certain amount of money every year. We receive donations and we collect stuff from all over the country from the various hospitals.”
Anyone interested in supporting the work of Project ESPWA can learn more and donate at 4haiti.ie.