A Ballina woman’s close ties to Ebola-hit Sierra Leone has prompted her to stage a novel event in aid of Médecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders ).
Audrey Robinson previously spent 12 months volunteering as a humanitarian aid worker in Sierra Leone.
“When I was there two years ago, the country was just beginning to emerge from the devastation caused by 10 years of war, with roads being built, water supply in some areas of the city, and electricity becoming more reliable,” she said. “The onslaught of the Ebola virus has halted that development in its tracks.
“Businesses and schools are closed, more than 1,500 people are already dead from the disease, and the hospitals are full to capacity.”
Ms Robinson is hosting a Mad Hatters Tea Party tomorrow afternoon in the award-winning restaurant, Market Kitchen in Ballina, from 4pm to 6pm, which she hopes will raise lots of money to help Médecins Sans Frontiers in its work to halt the spread of the disease in West Africa.
The medical teams in Sierra Leone desperately need support, she added.
“In September, the World Health Organisation estimated that they needed 1,198 beds in containment centres in Sierra Leone to help bring the disease under control. At that point in time there were only 346 beds available.
“This means that patients are being turned away and bringing this horrific killer back to their villages and their families where there is no running water, let alone proper sanitisation and protective equipment.”
Guests at the Mad Hatters Party will be treated to homemade cakes and buns and there are also some great prizes to be won.
Entry is €10. Guests can pop in for a quick cuppa and a slice of cake or stay for the entire afternoon.
“Hats are optional and can be anything from a baseball cap to a wedding veil,” said Ms Robinson.
“The best hats will win some fantastic prizes, including a hat made to order by local milliner Edel Staunton, who has donated this great prize to help with the fundraising effort.
“So please, get your friends together and come and join me on the day. I guarantee you some fantastic cakes and you will be helping this very worthy cause,” Ms Robinson appealed.