Almost 50 tonnes of PPE donated mainly by retirement homes in Munster are sent to India with the Hope Foundation charity in Cork to be used in the fight against Covid-19.
The nursing home community rallied when the manager of a Co Tipperary home called for help, just as Irish homes were helped at the start of the pandemic here.
Charlotte Nagle, head of fundraising and communications for the Hope Foundation, said medical experts in India were predicting a third wave of infections from the end of August.
The foundation cares for people at their own small private hospital and at a facility in Kolkata City, West Bengal, she said.
This PPE will be distributed not only to our hospital, but to all health care providers in West Bengal who need it, and this will be done by our logistics manager Gora Das in the field, ”said Ms Nagle.
This means that the PPE can be delivered directly to the sites that need it most, she said.
Patterson’s Nursing Home manager in Tipperary, Sandra Farrell, said this project is about reporting on kindness to local homes last year.
As the pandemic hit Ireland, donations of PPE worth more than € 100,000 arrived in Tipperary from Taiwan, thanks to a friend of Ms Farrell’s who works there in the health field.
“Fast forward to mid-May when I saw what was going on in India on TV,” she said. “The only thing I could think of to help was send PPE to protect them.
“I knew nursing homes had surplus PPE here across the country.
Volunteer bikers from the Brave Tango Charlie group, in a reversal of their job of delivering PPE to Irish nursing homes a year ago, have come to collect donations for India.
Tipperary companies, including the Banaghan office and distribution center, helped store and transport the jackpot to Dublin.
Monday saw the last cargo leave Dublin Airport.
International shipping charges were sponsored by Qatar Airways. Ms Farrell was put in contact with the airline by Kapil Jain. The Indian Embassy in Dublin supported the project, in particular Ambassador Sandeep Kumar.
Mr Kumar said the project “reflects the quintessential generosity of the Irish spirit”. He praised volunteer work, saying people understand that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to each of you for making a difference in the lives of people on the ground in India,” he said.
Ms Farrell said: “I would say at least 30 to 40 nursing homes across the country have donated. Lots in Tipperary, lots in Cork and Limerick as well, and in Dublin; mainly the households of Munster supported this initiative.
Donations came from homes with excess PPE, and Ms Farrell said it was a huge change from 2020, when even 50 dresses were ‘like gold dust’ in Ireland.
Ms Farrell has also raised € 30,000, and any money not used for local delivery charges will be donated to the Hope Foundation for Covid-related aid work.
The foundation distributes food to thousands of workers who are typically paid per working day, but now, due to Covid lockdowns, have no income at all. There are no social benefits.
They are also working with those affected by Cyclone Yaas, which left an estimated 150,000 homeless in the region last month.
In May, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Irish Aid provided funding of € 120,000 to the Hope Foundation for its work.