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Irish nun who survived aerial bombings to become leading doctor in women’s health

Sr Maura Lynch

Born: September 10, 1938

Died: December ninth, 2017

When the Angolan civil warfare broke out in 1975 an Irish nun hooked up to the Medical Missionaries of Mary commonly crossed a bombed bridge over the Cunene river to go to medical colleagues at a distant health centre in the south of the nation.

There are pictures of Sr Maura Lynch, attired in her white veil and behavior, wading via the water and being pulled up the dangerously tilted bridge on the ultimate leg of an 80km journey which she often made by bicycle.

When she died in Uganda on December ninth – on the day she was to rejoice the 50th anniversary of her arrival in Africa – colleagues recalled one such journey when Sr Maura and a Nigerian nun had to repeatedly abandon their bicycles and dive for canopy in the undergrowth due to aerial bombardment. They had set off with meals and medical provides as a result of there had been no phrase for 3 weeks from employees on the Cuamato health centre , and Sr Maura was nervous for his or her welfare.

Sr Maura Lynch

It was feared that travelling by jeep may make them a goal, so biking was the one choice. Friends recalled that her solely grievance afterwards was the sunburn she suffered on that journey.

Sr Maura’s sister, Breda, remembers their mother and father worrying through the Angolan conflict as the one type of communications have been letters which might take six weeks to arrive, and most of the extra hair elevating tales weren’t advised till years later. “It was a worrying time – Maura and her colleagues treated both sides so there were soldiers armed with rifles in theatre during surgeries”, recalled Breda.

Sr Maura who joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary at 17, after doing her Leaving Cert, had educated as a doctor in UCD, coming in the highest three in her graduating class in 1965. Twenty years later she interrupted her missionary work to return to Dublin to practice as a surgeon.

During virtually 20 years at Chiulo Mission Hospital in Angola, she shared your complete workload of that 200 mattress facility with only one different medical Sister. When UCD awarded her an Honorary Fellowship of the School of Medicine in 2009 – the very best award that the varsity bestows on medical graduates – Prof Bill Powderly identified that in Angola she had to cater for giant cohorts of individuals with TB and leprosy.

Over a 30 yr profession in Uganda the place she was based mostly at Kitovu Hospital, in the diocese of Masaka, it was her pioneering work in the world of obstetric fistula restore which gained the Irish nun a popularity as a champion of impoverished African women. Prof Powderly estimated that she was liable for conducting over 1,000 vesicovaginal fistula repairs between 1993 and 2007 “an astonishing record that one can confidently say will never be bettered”.

“As a result of seeing at first hand the physical, psychological and social isolation endured by African women, she became a champion of dignity and justice for women in the developing world,” in accordance to Prof Powderly’s quotation. Breda who had anticipated her to arrive in Dublin for a vacation this December, agrees that taking care of weak African lady was her ardour. “This was her vocation- looking after these women and babies. She loved Africa. And she always wanted to die there”.

Sr Maura was the fourth of 9 youngsters – three women and 6 boys – born to Patrick and Jane Lynch. Patrick Lynch labored for An Post and with every promotion was transferred, so the household lived at numerous occasions in Youghal, Carrick-on-Shannon, Killarney, Tralee, and Limerick earlier than lastly shifting to Dublin. Their mom was a instructor, and the household spoke Irish at residence.

Sr Maura Lynch
Sr Maura Lynch

A founding member of the Association of Surgeons in Uganda, Sr Maura was enthusiastic about passing on her information, and she or he pioneered progressive coaching programmes in obstetric fistula restore for Ugandan docs and nurses. She wasn’t too busy to fundraise and helped safe an Obstetric Fistula Unit in Kitovu Hospital which was formally opened in April 2005 . She acquired many honours from the Ugandan authorities, together with a singular Certificate of Residency for Life in recognition of her contribution to the health and welfare of its residents over three many years.

Sr Maura is survived by three brothers, Fr Finbarr Lynch SJ, Kevin Lynch and Enda Lynch, and by her sister, Breda Rogers.

She was pre-deceased by her sister, Kathleen, and three brothers, Brendan, Aidan and Ciaran.

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