A Derry man behind a charity working with destitute children in India has written to Pope Francis appealing for his help.
Eamon Melaugh’s Action with Effect project helps destitute lepers, orphans, and street children.
Its fundraising efforts have already resulted in 70 houses being built for homeless leper families, the provision of eight schools providing education and meals, an orphanage for infants and small children, and ten feeding stations.
Eamon Melaugh says tens of thousands of destitute children across the developing world die needlessly each day from starvation or disease as a result of malnutrition.
In his letter to the Pope, Mr. Melaugh brands these deaths as “scandalous and immoral”.
He writes: “There is a profound moral and spiritual obligation on every member of humanity to cherish, respect, and to protect every child, irrespective of race, colour, gender of creed.
“Painfully, this obligation is being ignored by those institutions and official bodies with the responsibility - and the means - to rectify this terrible situation, in many instances, wilfully so.”
According to Mr. Melaugh, thousands of children in the so-called ‘Third World’ are living perpetually on the verge of starvation.
His letter to Pope Francis continues: “I am now eighty years old and in my lifetime eight hundred million children have perished and suffered an obscene death from starvation or a dreadful disease resulting from prolonged malnutrition.
“Our humanitarian indifference is the chief cause of the unendurable suffering heaped upon totally innocent children who pay with their young lives for our collective neglect.
“There is nothing more inhumane than to be casually and actively indifferent to these preventable deaths. There is unquestionably a culture of silence and indifference on this matter. This may result from those in power, who do not wish to be morally challenged by something terrible that happens in some remote part of the world, hiding their heads in the sand, hoping to maintain an untroubled conscience.”
Mr. Melaugh says that, if the worldwide Christian churches are to maintain “moral credibility”, they must become engaged in a “humanitarian crusade against this terrible situation.”
“Heaven cries aloud,” he writes, “for compassionate and humanitarian intervention now to end forever the grotesque suffering of little children. Not one person, child or adult, should die for the lack of food in the twenty first century.”
In his letter, Mr. Melaugh urges the Pope to consider imposing a one euro levy on every pilgrim entering Vatican City - the exception being for religious services.
Monies raised from such an initiative could, he said, be spent exclusively on feeding starving children.
He also wants more young people to volunteer for work in the developing world.