Good Karma

Barry Jiggins is on the lookout for old medical equipment for Mongolia, writes IAN FRAZER on Sept 12, 2009 issue of “Townsville Bulletin” daily newspaper of Australia.
Barry Jiggins, radiographer, aid worker and Beatles fan, is more of a Help that Let it Beperson. He arrived in Townsville recently to promote relief work in Mongolia, in a car loaded with op-shop blankets. "I bought the blankets in Innisfail, Ingham and Townsville," he said."It's good karm, I don't believe you get anything back if you put nothing in."Last January. Mr.Jiggins founded MongoliaAid International Inc, formalising his five-year long quest to help schools and hospitals in the Central Asian nation of two million people.After seeing shortages of bedding and clothing in hospitals and schools during a tourist trip to Mongolia in 2003, he collected more than 12,000 blankets and nearly 10,500 pairs of shoes, mainly in North Queensland. He sent five shipping containers of blankets, shoes, clothing, washing machines, toys and books to Gobi desert communities between 2003 and 2008."I more or less steered the course of these ship by myself with a few key supporters," he said. "But my ambitions for the people of Mongolia far outstripped our infinite ability to reach donors."He hopes the new organization, registered as a charity in July, will collect and distribute medical equipments as well blankets and raise funds for projects such as digging wells. Goals include collecting 200,000 more blankets by 2020 to supply every hospital in the Gobi region and raising $ 100,000 for four new wells in the villages of Bayangovi and Bayanlig. Mr.Jiggins, 40, a whimsical Beatles fan, plans to name the wells John, Paul,George and Ringo. "To show my bona fides I will put up half of the $ 100,000," he said. "I am saving my pennies, although I have been extravagant with the blankets. "Water quality is an ongoing problem and wells have run down since the Soviet money disappeared."MongoliAid International has also begun acquiring medical and surgical equipment for hospitals in the capital Ulaanbaatar and in the Gobi region.The organization is seeking old anaesthetic and ultrasound machines, crutches, wheelchairs, blood-pressure machines and walking frames. One of Mr.Jiggins' colleagues at the Cairns Base Hospital recently found him a pair of old mechanical anaesthetic machines discarded on the Atherton Tableland. "They need basic items of rehabilitation that we take for granted," Mr Jiggins said. "Our mission statement is to make the world a better place, one Mongolia at a time."Mr.Jiggins, who received an Officer in the Order of Australia award in 2007 in recognition of his aid work, said he was often asked ' why Mongolia?'"When people say why not look after your own backyard? I tell them that I've travelled a bit and the world is my backyard," he said."When I am in Mongolia, it's my front yard."He says the world should take more notice of the way Mongolian people look at each other and visitors to their country."Australians with a world outlook will appreciate that no matter how much we cast ourselves as victims of the global economic downturn, Mongolians do it materially much tougher than most of us can imagine," he says on the website. Mr.Jiggins says turning 40 earlier this year and the death of his dad, Barry senior, last year, aged 71, had reinforced his helping-hands vocation.Barry Sr was among Bribane's best-known rugby league identities, having worked for the Bulimba Stars club in a 30-year career that began by chance when he took Barry junior to his first junior league game. "Dad's legacy and what he stood for, I have never been able to take with me," he said.But he rates The Beatles' music as another important influence on his life."The Beatles didn't repeat themselves, they pushed the envelope," he said."I don't repeat myself either. That's another way of spelling boredom."



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