July 15, 2019

Mercy and Connecting the Dots

Coming in from work one evening, one of the Congregation of Notre Dame Sisters, with whom I live when in New York, told me that there was going to be a talk given by an oncologist from the eminent Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York. Although going to another meeting was the last thing I really wanted, supporting cancer causes is very real for me. And so I went to the meeting and it was there that I met Dr Tanya Trippett, a doctor specializing in oncology for children as young as 2 months to18 years old.

During her talk, Dr Trippett told the story of one of her patients, Eugene Gasana, the ten-year-old son of the Ambassador of Rwanda to the United Nations. While living with his parents in New York, he was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer and was very lucky to be taken to the world’s premier cancer research and teaching hospital. After many treatments and months in hospital, this little African boy was visited by the Make A Wish Foundation. He was asked, “If you had one wish, what might it be?”

Eugene thought for a moment – maybe a trip to Disney, a new bicycle or a trip home to see his grandparents who were so worried about him. After a few moments, he looked up and told the assembled adults:

“My wish is that all children could have a hospital or clinic like this when they are sick.”

Dr Trippett told us that all the adults in the room were astounded by a little child making such a wish. His wish haunted her and finally she decided to do something about it. After many months of research investigations, she decided that Eugene’s wish would become a reality and the audience were shown plans for a small hospital in Ghana, which would respect culture and traditions.

When she referred to Ghana, I immediately sat up. I had just returned from a six-day meeting in Rome on UNICEF work and during that time I had several meetings with Cardinal Turkson, an advisor to Pope Francis and the prefect for Justice and Peace in the Catholic world. He is a native of Ghana. After the meeting, I asked Dr Trippett if she knew Cardinal Turkson. She said no, and so I offered to speak to the Cardinal and tell him about this amazing story – the inspiration of a little African boy!

As a result, Cardinal Turkson met with Dr Trippett on a visit to New York and was present on a follow-up trip to Ghana, where he introduced her to the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo.

At that meeting, the land on which to build the hospital was given free of charge with the blessings of the ancestral peoples at a beautiful handing-over ceremony.

The build for the new hospital has now started. I have been involved providing information to donors on our universal call to global citizenship, recognizing that we are all connected.

Connecting the dots is such an important part of Mercying in today’s world!

Messages to: Deirdre Mullan rsm -

Partnering Religious Congregations with UNICEF
Mercy Girl Effect – Coordinator

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