LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Scotland’s leading Catholic charity got an unusual fundraiser from an orthopedic surgeon in northern England, who literally made some waves to help Ethiopians in need.
Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon Matthew Cartwright-Terry is a supporter of SCIAF, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, and recently raised money by swimming the Mersey River in North West England.
“I was inspired to support SCIAF through a flier I was sent concerning the distress of the Ethiopian people. The swim was a bucket list activity, with the timing [providing] the perfect opportunity to provide some support,” he said.
Michael Hamilton, the Community Manager Office of SCIAF, said the surgeon’s fundraising will go towards an Emergency Appeal for Ethiopia that was launched this summer.
“Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in recent history and there is no sign of the situation improving. With support like Matthew’s, we are working to help alleviate people’s suffering in the south of the country,” he told Crux.
“We can ensure families can survive by providing immediate access to critical food supplies and financial support. We work with partners in Ethiopia to deliver this support,” Hamilton said.
The Catholic charity notes that millions of people are experiencing an extreme hunger crisis after the worst drought in recent history, with rivers dried up, crops withering, and livestock dying.
It reports that in March, SCIAF received $154,000 from the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund to provide food supplies and access to safe water affected by the crisis.
“We can ensure families can survive by providing immediate access to critical food supplies and financial support,” Hamilton told Crux. “We work with partners in Ethiopia to deliver this support.”
Cartwright-Terry said the September swim couldn’t have been on a better day.
“The sun rose early and stayed all day. We had a delay due to maritime traffic, as the authorities wouldn’t hold the shipping back for a few swimmers. Wearing a wetsuit in the sunshine became too much and so inevitably most jumped in the refreshing waters of the Mersey! Although murky and nothing like a mountain stream it was lovely to cool off,” he said.
“Finally, we set off trying to remain in our group, the 58 society, as per safety instructions. The six of us managed to remain together for the entire crossing with a couple of stops to admire the view from the middle of the river and even take some selfies,” the surgeon said.
Cartwright-Terry was quick to point out the day could not have been achieved without considerable organization from local volunteer enthusiasts and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and other volunteer groups providing safety and logistical support.
“It meant that the swim could be conducted across a dangerous stretch of water with sensible risk management. Hopefully, there will be many more cross-Mersey swims,” he said.
SCIAF said the funding has also given 7,000 households in Ethiopia access to clean water, with shallow wells, water points, and providing water purification materials.
“With this support, 1,570 people at risk of malnutrition were supported with cash grants, meaning the money could quickly get to those who need it most, and be spent on a family’s most urgent needs. SCIAF’s local partner worked with healthcare staff to identify those most in need,” the charity said.
Hamilton said the values of the organization derive “from our Christian faith and our love and compassion for the people we serve, our overseas partners and the Catholic community in Scotland.”
“They are firmly rooted in Scripture, Church teaching and Catholic social teaching. We aim to encompass these values in all we do. This means continuing to reach out to our sisters and brothers who continue to struggle in poverty and with the devastating effects of climate change,” he told Crux.
SCIAF notes that with the financial support for Ethiopia, 1,570 people at risk of malnutrition were supported with cash grants, “meaning the money could quickly get to those who need it most, and be spent on a family’s most urgent needs.”
For his part, the swimming surgeon is just trying to do his part to support the cause.
“I hope this small contribution from my donors will make allow SCIAF to continue to improve the lives of those in less fortunate circumstances. I thank you for bringing the plight of these people to my attention, wishing them and yourselves happiness in the future,” Cartwright-Terry said.