Taynuilt fixer helps mend broken Bahamas

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Taynuilt maintenance man John Murphy is on a mission to help fix devastated lives in hurricane-hit Bahamas.

For John is spending one month helping distributing emergency aid and resources to the stricken country’s most vulnerable people, as part of an international disaster relief team organised by Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse.

Hurricane Dorian flattened homes and livelihoods when it struck last month and now the ravaged islands are threatened with a Cholera outbreak.

The Bahamas is the latest in a tragic string of disaster destinations across the world where Mr Murphy has volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse over the past five years.

The charity uses funds pre-supported by Christian-giving to get its volunteers out where they are needed most by the second or third day of a disaster hitting.

Mr Murphy’s first deployment in Nepal saw him running the main distribution warehouse for the whole country when the tiny country was shaken by earthquakes in 2015.

Since then he has served under threat of snipers and gunfire in war-torn Iraq, surrounded by landmines and boobytraps, to ensure urgent supplies got to starving people in Mosul, and he has run an overnight camp for migrants seeking refuge in the Greek Islands.

John Murphy with helpers and members of the Iraqi army on a relief mission in Mosul.
A truck shielded Taynuilt’s John Murphy and other volunteers from snipers in Iraq as they distributed aid.

John told the Oban Times last week, just hours before he headed for the airport: ‘In Chois in the Greek Islands, I met 2,500 migrants a day. The stories I heard from them will stay with me forever. The best job in the world there was wrapping blankets round babies, but there was so much heartbreak, there were parents who’d had their babies washed from their arms.

‘In Iraq, we saw cooking pots, hoovers and computers that ISIS had filled with semtex. We were shielded by a truck from snipers as we gave out aid.’

And he added: ‘I believe I go to places where God wants me to go. I have faith he will keep me safe. My overwhelming feeling about what I do is that there is so much good in the world, there’s also a lot of bad but there is so much good, so much kindness. There are people going above and beyond just to help others and that’s why I love doing what I do.’

Murphy Maintenance customers also have a part to play in his ability to volunteer: ‘I’ve got to thank my wonderful clients at the moment who are living with a half-stripped out kitchen while I’m away. They were so kind when I explained and said ‘just go, we’ll wait’.

Mr Murphy flew out to the Bahamas last week as part of a second team of volunteers to take over the Samaritan’s Purse work on the islands. The charity already has a hospital up and running but there is a likelihood it will also have to set up a Cholera unit to cope with the looming disease crisis.

‘People think the Bahamas is paradise but it’s far from that. They have ghettos and the whole place is flattened, it’s just devastation. There is no drinking cocktails on the beach,’ he said.

To support the work of Samaritan’s Purse go to samaritans-purse.org.uk to make a donation.