FLOURISH • FEBRUARY 2007 FEATURE
Glasgow doctor Eileen Reilly is providing a much needed lifeline to Liberia’s mothers and babies
No way could I walk away from
where my skills are needed
WHEN Eileen Reilly volun- water in the clinic - I have to use
by Maria Gilmore
buckets collected from a well to
teered to work in Liberia,
wash my hands and instruments.
she was afraid she might Royal Alexandra Hospital in “And we only have electricity
Paisley and Greenock Royal
not fit in. for a few hours at a time thanks to
But having spent a year deliv- a generator.”
She said: “I felt unfulfilled in Eileen added: “Everything is
ering babies, the consultant obste-
my work here, I needed another doubly hard for a pregnant
trician cannot break the cord that
challenge. The minute I was there woman.
ties her to a people who desper-
I felt like my work was making a “Women have a low status in
ately need her expertise.
difference. I could clearly see the Liberia anyway, but many are in
The 39 year-old Glasgow
need.” dreadful positions after losing
doctor, who resumed her mission
The doctor, who grew up in their husbands in wars or being
after spending Christmas and Bishopbriggs and was latterly a raped. If it is their first pregnancy,
New Year back home, said: “I parishioner of St Paul’s, they are at higher risk of malaria
had to stay in Liberia where my Whiteinch, admits that her first and anaemia.
skills were really needed. She is in the process of
“When I first saw the clinic I
impression of her new base was:
Day for Religious
“With malnutrition and a lack
“It is so common for mums was astounded as they didn’t building eight birthing rooms and
“What a disaster area!” of any kind of infrastructure or
and babies to die in childbirth in even had scales to weigh babies, setting up educational workshops
proper medical facilities, it is no
Liberia that I realised there was Archbishop Conti marks the
never mind basics as oxygen and to teach the women about basic
wonder so many women and
no way I could just leave them Church's day of Consecrated
At St Luke’s clinic in essential medicines. nutrition.
and return to Scotland.” Life by celebrating Mass with
Tubmanburg - a rural town about “The first birth I saw was in The clinic also hope to take
Women risk a one in16 chance
Eileen first went to Liberia in the Religious of the
50 miles from the capital this horribly dark, messy room over a nearby military hospital
of dying during pregnancy or
2005 with Scottish International Archdiocese on Saturday 3
Monrovia - Eileen treats 100,000 with this tiny bed stuck in the soon.
childbirth. In industrialised coun-
Relief. For over a decade the February at 1pm in St
people from across the Bomi corner on which the poor woman She said: “As I am going back
tries that chance is only one in
charity has been supporting the Hills area. Andrew's Cathedral, Clyde
was sort of lying half-on and half- for the foreseeable future, my aim
work of Fr Garry Jenkins, of the She said; “Everyday is a Street. Members of religious
off. is to set up properly organised
Despite the hardships, people
SMA Fathers, in the west African struggle for people in Liberia. congregations, serving across
“I knew then that I had a lot of medical care focusing on maternity.
have a great enthusiasm for life.
country. Their first task each day is to find the Archdiocese in a variety of
work to do.” “Beyond that I don’t know - but
And it was their eagerness to
She secured a year’s unpaid water then to think about food. But as well as shocking sights, apostolates, are due to join
welcome her that ensured Eileen I can safely say I have got the bug
sabbatical from her bosses at the “We don’t even have running Eileen has also seen the positive the celebrations.
was gripped. as far as working in Africa goes.”
impact her work and that of clinic
“Your skills can go so much
funders Scottish International
further. Even the smallest things
Relief (SIR) have on a struggling,
that we take for granted can really
make a difference.”
Liberia has only 30 registered Amazing
doctors and other medical staff
She said: “There have been
FOR WOMEN EXPLORING
have poor, if any, training.
some fabulous experiences.
Many women give birth at
“All the children are gorgeous
home, miles from anywhere, with
and seeing a baby come back
only a birth attendant to help.
from the brink of death is
Eileen said: “Sometimes I am
horrified by the lack of proper
“That is what keeps me in
facilities, knowledge and skill.
Liberia - watching a malnour-
“It makes even the simplest of
ished baby put on weight and
procedures unbearably difficult.
begin to act like a baby again.
“That is compounded by what
“And it is wonderful to see the
staff there is completely lacking
mum find enjoyment in her baby
motivation as they are poorly
St Margaret of
again and rebuild their relation-
paid. When I first arrived I was
overwhelmed by what I saw ...
Eileen now runs a well-organ-
barefoot children in ragged
clothes, dirt, flies and mud. ised clinic, acting almost like a GP.
Please support our
Fern’s birthday bash is icing on the cake
New Build Appeal
GLASGOW YOUNGSTER Fern Robertson has just Missions Primary on the southside of Glasgow.
celebrated her eighth birthday. She was alerted to the Mary’s Meal initiative
But already her selflessness is helping feed
after the parish adopted it as its Jesse Tree bene-
hundreds of children around the world.
ficiary during Advent.
For instead of indulging herself with gifts on
Fr Noel Burke, parish priest of Holy Name, of Care in the Community
her 29 December birthday, Fern asked her pals to
said: “Our parish was much taken by the great
donate money to Scottish International Relief’s
Mary’s Meals project. work of SIR and Mary’s Meals. This was exem-
East Barns Street, Clydebank G81 1EG
And her big-hearted gesture boosted the plified by the initiative adopted by Fern.
charity’s funds by over £200. In places like “When you consider that children here can Tel 0141 952 1141 Fax 0141 951 4206
Malawi, Peru and Liberia where Mary’s Meals
spend £5 on just one fast-food meal, it is Email email@example.com or visit
operate £5 can guarantee a daily meal for chil-
amazing that it costs only £5 to feed a child for a
dren for a whole year. www.smh.org.uk
whole year. Thanks to Fern and her friends that
Fern is a parishioner of Holy Name,
Mansewood, and pupil at Our Lady of the message is getting across to more people.”