Bernard Has Been On Dialysis Since He Was Born

Bernard Has Been On Dialysis Since He Was Born

There’s a big change in him. It’s a whole different ball game.

Bernard is eight years old and has attended Children’s University Hospital Temple Street since he was a baby. Charities Institute Ireland spoke to Bernard’s dad, Bernard Snr.

“Bernard has been on dialysis since he was born. He was born with renal failure and he was on home dialysis for a while but that didn’t really work out; he picked up infections. Then he was about four years on haemodialysis, which he had to travel to Temple Street for. We live out near Clifden in Galway so we had to travel to Dublin and back three times a week for bloods and check-ups.

In December, Bernard got a new kidney from a donor.

He had the transplant at Temple Street. It’s nerve wracking to be in that situation. The call came at about 2 o’clock in the morning so we had to get him up and head for Dublin. We got there around 7am and then he spent all day in theatre.

On the call, Temple Street tried to keep us from being too nervous. They told us everything was going to be OK and gave us the proceedings for the day. Bernard was in hospital for about three weeks after the transplant and they monitored him carefully and kept his mood up too. The nurses are always in good form and they can get the Play Therapist to come and visit the kids too. If they’re down or cross she’ll come to them and play a game or bring them to the playroom. It’s been good for Bernard. They make it as homely as possible for the kids.

Now, Bernard only has to travel to Temple Street for check-ups once every three weeks.

He has days where he’ll get a bit down if he’s not 100%, but he’s fairly used to it and he’s doing well since he had the transplant. There’s a big change in him now. It’s a whole different ball game at home. We have more time together now. He can wrap everybody around his finger with that cheeky little smile.”

Over 143,000 children were treated in Temple Street Children’s Hospital in 2015

It Doesn’t Matter What Age You Are

It Doesn’t Matter What Age You Are

It was one of those rare occasions where the cabinet changes its mind... all because a group of older people were going to meet an hour later.

Robin Webster, Founder of Age Action Ireland, reflects on the charity’s momentous protest against the Government’s proposed withdrawal of the automatic right to medical cards for over 70s. 

“This was the first event of its kind that we organised and, I can say on behalf of the staff, that it was the members who pushed us into it. It was literally a mass movement of people protesting about the withdrawal of the automatic right to the medical card.

I remember we organised a room for 300 people at the Alexander Hotel. One of my colleagues, Lorraine, made alternative arrangements with Westland Row church, just in case the turnout was too large. At a quarter to eleven, just a few minutes before we were supposed to start, there were 300 people in the hotel, at least another 300 out on the street, and I thought, ‘This is far too small, they’ll have to go to the church.’ 

We ended up having between 1600 - 1800 people marching that day.

The really important thing about the event was that it was the members themselves that came up in their droves and, secondly, people were so engaged by it. The outstanding thing I remember was that all the men were putting their hands up wanting to speak.

After a while I said, ‘Look, the majority of older people are women, let’s hear the women’, and a series of women came up to speak. All these women said, ‘You know, this is the first time I’ve ever spoken in public.’ And yet they did it.

It was the solidarity that people felt stronger, and better able, because they were with other people as a movement. It was very exciting, and people still talk about being in ‘The Class of 2008’  - and our membership figures rose.

It was one of those rare occasions where the Cabinet changes its mind at 11 o’clock in the morning, all because a group of older people were going to meet an hour later. It was extraordinary. Politicians and other groups continue to refer to ‘Westland Row’. We should do it more often to be honest.

There were quite a lot of younger people interested too and the solidarity between the generations is very important. That’s one of our priorities at Age Action:

It doesn’t matter what age you are, we’re all aging together and we have to support each other.”

In 2016 Age Action Care and Repair teams carried out over 32,400 jobs, befriending visits, trade referrals and telephone contacts with older people

You Cannot Have Faith Without Justice

You Cannot Have Faith Without Justice

Faith can only have a vibrancy when it’s lived out in the actions of who we stand on the side of.

I work as Justice Co-ordinator for the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (AMRI). Working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers is one of the main areas of justice for AMRI. Irish people are undocumented in other parts of the world, particularly in the US, so for St. Patrick’s Day we wanted to collaborate with Migrant Rights Centre, who were hosting an event where the undocumented in Ireland were sending greetings to the undocumented in the US.  We wanted to highlight the need for changes in our own legislation to protect the rights of undocumented people and to look for the introduction of a regularisation scheme to allow undocumented migrants the chance to come forward and regularise their situation.

This photo was taken at that event which was held on the 16th March, 2017.  We had 50 or 60 people outside the Central Bank in Dublin and the atmosphere was good – even though it was absolutely freezing cold!  The people who came wanted to express that solidarity with the undocumented people, some of whom spoke on the evening. 

There are between 20,000 and 26,000 people undocumented in our own country. We are very good at looking for rights for our own undocumented people aboard, but we are not as good at recognising how unjustly we treat undocumented people in our own country. We tend to work for the rights of our little Irish community in the US, rather than proclaiming solidarity with all the people who are looking for pathways for citizenship throughout our world. So this event was about changing the Irish mindset to not just think of ourselves. When we think back to our own history, remembering that our people had to leave their homeland in search of a better life, we should be able to demonstrate greater solidarity with different groups of people who find themselves in the same situation as we have been, both in our past and today.

This work moves you. I’m from Donegal and there are many from my own county who were and are undocumented people in the US. One of them made the news recently as he is going to be deported right now from Trump’s America. So, of course, it moves me; members of my family and people I know have been in that situation. I think all people have a right to move around the world in search of a better life.  

The whole premise to any kind of faith context is love of neighbour and seeking justice. You cannot have faith without justice. Faith can only have a vibrancy when it’s lived out in the actions.  This demands that we have an explicit option for the poor, for those on the margins of society.  It means that we must participate in changing the structures to ensure that all people have full participation and equal rights. Otherwise as it says in scripture “faith without works is dead.”

The biblical message is about loving your neighbour as yourself.  This has to be done with concrete actions. It is not something that falls out of the sky; it’s not something abstract. It has to be something that is there as an ideal, but also as something that we do in solidarity with those who are looking for the same thing – to love their neighbour. Especially those who are on the margins, the people who are cast aside and who do not have full participation in whatever society they are in. Whether it is women, people from different religions, sexual persuasion, or race. Faith is not just something that is reserved for inside a church door

Sr Sheila Curran, Justice Co-ordinator, AMRI

The purpose of AMRI will be to represent and promote active collaboration between Religious Institutes, Societies of Apostolic Life and Missionary Organisations

A Lasting Relationship

A Lasting Relationship

It takes a village to raise a child.

Trish and Gerry Kerr have been child sponsors since they got married, nearly 30 years ago. In May 2016 they visited the child they sponsor in Nepal in May 2016, at their own expense. Sujit, now 16, is the third child they sponsored and they have been sponsoring him for seven years. Through child sponsorship Trish and Gerry have taught their own children about the world, as well as funding the development of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

On visiting the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal, Trish and Gerry were delighted not only to meet Sujit and see how he has benefited from being a sponsored child, but also to meet all members of the community who had benefited from child sponsorship. They were particularly struck by the women’s group ActionAid had set-up.

By taking a human rights based approach ActionAid promotes the right to active, free and meaningful participation for all, it addresses discrimination and prioritises vulnerable groups and clarifies links between rights and duties, as well as the relationships between rights-holders (citizens) and duty-bearers (for example police, hospitals and legal systems). Creating local women’s groups and grassroots community groups are a fundamental part of this work.

One woman who Trish and Gerry met from the lowest caste in Nepal had, through training and encouragement by ActionAid and the women’s group, gone on to become an elected member of the local government – she is now advocating to improve the lives of women, children and vulnerable groups in the wider community. This is one of countless examples of real and lasting change made by child sponsors, like Trish and Gerry, around the world.

ActionAid work in 45 countries around the world to support people to fight for and gain their rights to education, food, shelter, work and basic healthcare

This Is Our Bed

This Is Our Bed

He couldn’t remember living somewhere where he didn’t have to ask to leave a room. He didn’t know how to behave in his own home.

This image is so powerful; it shows children in a cosy home setting. It’s the perfect representation of love, warmth, safety and security; a scene that many take for granted.

Crucially, our work always comes back to children like the ones in this photo. Parents work incredibly hard to shield their children from the effects and stress of homelessness. They want to make sure their children still have the best chance. We work with parents to make sure these children don’t fall behind in school, that they don't become stressed or develop problems with nutrition. If families are in a hotel room eating a meal together on the bed every day, this becomes the normal day to day routine for a child and that is not how family life should be.

One of our customers fought for almost a year to get out of emergency accommodation and into a home. When this finally happened, her youngest child kept asking permission to go upstairs. He couldn’t remember living somewhere where he didn’t have to ask to leave a room. He didn’t know how to behave in his own home.

For me, this photograph conveys the hope that we try to give to people. We stand in their corner. We act as their champion and we stick with them so they can build a safe and secure home for themselves and their children.

Rachel Murphy, Co-Director of Fundraising at Focus Ireland

Supported over 13,500 people who were homeless or at risk in 2016

Keeping Sisters Close

Keeping Sisters Close

I have become so used to seeing certain little faces coming into us. It’s almost like having extended family members around. The whole idea is to keep the kids together and to keep families close

Shannon is almost one and has been with us since she was bornBefore her birth, her family knew that their baby would have a heart condition, preventing them from bringing her home to live with her parents and siblings.

These sisters do not have a normal relationship, as a little girl and her baby sister should. For a long time, Rihanna couldn’t really touch Shannon, or hug her. But during the time that the girls spent here together, I saw a bond developing between them. I watched how fond they were becoming of one another.

Rihanna is nine now, she is such a lovely little girl. She gets so excited to see her little sister, at the weekends and during school holidays. At the start, Shannon wasn't really aware of what was happening around her. But Rihanna was so patient, she would just sit by her side and chat and talk to her baby sister.

I think Rihanna sees me as the fun one; she likes to come and see me, because she knows I am the one who has the key to the toy box! But through this, we often end up chatting, talking about school and stuff like that. I can tell she is happy to be here with her family.

It’s very hard, to see families being separated sometimes. But then when they arrive, the excitement they feel at being brought together again is so positive. We try to focus on the positives of these stories. I have become so used to seeing certain little faces coming into us. It's almost like having extended family members around. The whole idea is to keep the kids together and to keep families close.

Joanne Kiely - Digital Media & Fundraising Administrator at The Ronald McDonald House Charity

The Ronald McDonald House provided 6,937 bed nights last year so families could stay close to their hospitalised child

In CRC Every Child Is An Artist

In CRC Every Child Is An Artist

I remember the day he said, “I think today I’d like to draw my hand.” I just thought to myself, oh my God, he’s talking about himself for the first time. I was spellbound

A few years ago, the student in this picture wouldn’t have been able to do that; he would have picked anything to draw rather than himself. He’s in his final year now but initially he wasn’t aware that there was any artistic talent within him - he wasn’t even speaking. Now, he’s in an environment where he feels safe, accepted and nurtured. Gradually, through a holistic approach, he has bloomed into a guy who is ready to leave us this year and move on into adult services. So, for me, this picture shows him coming to terms with his physical disability, and therefore he’s able to take on the world.

I remember the day he said, “I think today I’d like to draw my hand.” I just thought to myself, oh my God, he’s talking about himself for the first time. I was spellbound.

It takes somebody very accepting of themselves; of what they’re able to do, and what they’re not able to do, in life.
It takes somebody like that to create art.

I was 25 years working in mainstream school, and I loved it, but I took a career break and came in to the CRC as a substitute and I just fell in love with it. So I left a permanent, pensionable job to come in and go for a full-time job here. There’s something about social development, the holistic approach they take here, that’s just amazing. I suppose, because many of my students are compromised intellectually, standing in front of me every day are children who need nurturing regarding emotional development, social development, independence development; they need all that.

I take a different perspective on life now.
I’ve changed completely, my personality has bloomed.

I can give much more of myself and I think that’s why I was frustrated working in mainstream school; I was becoming a person who wasn’t very nice; I had to be so cross and strict all the time. Working with the CRC has just made me a better person.

Marie Talty, CRC School Art Teacher

Last year, children attended the CRC services over 79,000 times across medical, therapy and specialist services