Derry charity worker and civil rights campaigner, Eamon Melaugh, celebrates his 80th birthday on Thursday.
The veteran fundraiser, who is a frequent visitor to India, plans to open a school in Haridwar to mark the occasion. As part of the celebrations, Mr. Melaugh funded a special birthday party in India for eighty destitute children, one to mark every year of his life. It was the fourth such annual birthday banquet he has funded.
Mr. Melaugh said: “The children were all supplied with new clothing and a large meal, all funded from my personal account, not the charity. I couldn’t ask people for donations without putting my own money forward. If my years have taught me anything it is that we should all be passionate about compassion.”
Mr. Melaugh established the ‘Action With Effect’ (AWE) organisation, now based on Bishop Street, a little over a decade ago. Despite his advancing years he again plans to travel to India later this month. By raising money in Derry the charity finance a number of projects which assist the homeless and leper ‘untouchables’ in India. The organisation has constructed 70 houses for homeless leper families, eight schools providing free education and meals, an orphanage and a pallitative care medical facility.
The region in which the charity concentrates its work in India is on the periphery of severe flooding which has killed 800 people in recent weeks. According to Mr. Melaugh, the AWE projects in the North of the country are: “on standby to evacuate should that become necessary.”
Nearly 3,000 people are missing following floods in India’s Uttarakhand state.
Mr. Melaugh said: “Thankfully we have escaped the worst of the devastation but our projects expect a large influx of people needing our help in the coming weeks.”