32 leading figures in the charitable activities of the Order the Order’s Hospitallers – met in Dublin last week to discuss future strategies in their humanitarian aid and to review their work over the past 12 months.
Hosted by the Order’s Irish Association, the Grand Hospitaller, Albrecht von Boeselager, presided over the 14th Conference of European Hospitallers and reaffirmed the Order’s mission to help the sick and the poor, without distinction of religion, race, origin or age. He reported that over the last year the Order has given support to thousands of victims of natural catastrophes across the globe – the hurricanes which raged in the Americas, the tsunami which devastated so much of Asia, the floods of Central Europe. And he noted the Order’s ongoing concern and action for those suffering from leprosy, a disease still very prevalent in the third world where one person is infected every minute, and from AIDS, where the Order’s focus is on mother-and-child care for pregnant women who are HIV positive. He also reported that the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes last May had brought together 5000 knights, dames and handicapped patients.
Each of the Hospitallers, as well as the specialist leprosy and AIDS organisation (International Committee of the Order of Malta – CIOMAL) and the Order’s worldwide relief service, Malteser International, outlined their ongoing projects to support the victims of disease or catastrophe, and emphasised their commitment to the Order’s mission.
A special feature was a presentation on the Irish Ambulance Corps, which covers the 32 counties of Ireland in 132 ambulances, and concentrates on community care and emergency care. They provide first aid services across the country, and offer training programmes for first-aiders and ambulance workers, with their latest development being a Medical Bike Unit which provides rapid response when access is limited in an emergency.