Irish humanitarian aid agency GOAL is appealing to the Irish diaspora in the UK who can’t get home this Christmas to run or walk a virtual mile to support the world’s most vulnerable communities.
The GOAL Mile is a tradition that sees family and friends all over Ireland take time out on Christmas Day to do a mile to support GOAL’s work in 14 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
Last year GOAL reached more than six million people in need with nutrition, health, livelihood and emergency response support.
Many of those who traditionally take part in the GOAL Mile in villages and parishes all over the country at Christmas are Irish people home for the holidays, taking advantage of the GOAL Mile to reconnect and catch up with friends and neighbours.
This year’s GOAL Mile will be virtual due to Covid-19 restrictions but the humanitarian agency believe this could be
an excellent way of making those forced to stay away feel connected to home wherever they are in the world.
GOAL Board member, former Irish Minister for the Diaspora and Kerry football legend, Jimmy Deenihan, said: “In my time as Minister for the Diaspora I met so many Irish people all over the world, including the UK, and witnessed first hand the inspiring contribution they make in all walks of life.
“I am appealing to Irish communities all over the globe to support GOAL’s work by registering to do a virtual GOAL Mile this Christmas. There are many who would have taken part in the event at home but will be unable to travel due to COVID-19. So they can join in on the fun wherever they are and make a virtual connection.”
He added: “The Irish have never been found wanting when it comes to supporting those most in need. We are renowned for our generosity. Whilst this Christmas we are all being asked to keep apart, all of us at home and abroad can stand together by doing a virtual GOAL Mile.”
GOAL Director of Fundraising, Eamon Sharkey, said: “The Irish community have always been hugely supportive of GOAL’s work, wherever they are around the globe. Our target this Christmas is to get 10,000 people at home and abroad register to do a GOAL mile.
“The pandemic means the GOAL Mile is more important than ever as we work to rebuild communities shattered by disease, conflict and climate change. Since March GOAL has supported over 17 million people in our thirteen countries in preventing the spread of the virus, rolling out COVID-19 awareness programmes and teaching people the importance of keeping a safe distance, wearing masks, and observing a handwashing regime. We could not do this without the support of Irish people everywhere.”
You can register to do a GOAL Mile here.
Case study: GOAL helps infant triplets on brink of starvation
GOAL’s work helped infant triplets who were on the brink of starvation and are now thriving.
Six-month-old triplet girls Nyachua, Nyajuak and Nyakime had a challenging start to their lives after they were born in Gambella refugee camp in Ethiopia in March.
As the world came together to fight the threat of Covid-19, the triplets had a huge fight of their own.
Two of the triplets were found to be suffering from life-threatening severe malnutrition in their early weeks.
Thankfully, GOAL staff were there to intervene and the babies received the vital treatment they needed to survive. They are now thriving.
The triplets mum, Nyakan, had overcome many challenges herself. She grew up in the South Sudanese village of Mathiang. And like so many other children in her home village, there was limited access to health and education. She married when she was just eighteen, and had her first child.
Due to conflict during the South Sudanese war in 2014, Nyakan was forced to flee her village with her two year old daughter. It was a harrowing journey and Nyakan and her daughter were lucky to survive.
After five days without food or water Nyakan finally found safety. Clutching her daughter, exhausted, she arrived at GOAL’s refugee camp in Gambella. GOAL staff rushed to her aid and provided fresh water, food and shelter.
Surrounded by a safe support network and her loving family, Nyakan is now thriving.
After giving birth to the triplets Nyakan presumed she would not be able to produce enough milk to feed them all. However, with support and guidance from GOAL’s counselor she started breastfeeding confidently.