by Cathal Cregg
photos by
Dr Jackelina Pando Kelly
& UCC Medical Students

A book of poems!

buy the book

In Aid of Mama Ashu Hospital, Peru

Some sample quotes from the poems

Should we stop the hawk from killing the tiny little sparrow? Then the hawk’s young would die why should our minds be so narrow?  

from the poem
Who did what to whom?

When you witness something majestic do you know you did?

Do you give yourself time to process its beautiful meaning?

from the poem
Maybe not today

A little bit about Cathal…

Cathal Cregg was born in a small farm just 5 kilometres outside Boyle in Co. Roscommon, Ireland. After completing his Leaving Certificate, he served his time as a stonecutter.carver. Most of this time was  spent working with hand tools. During this time, Cathal also studied the craft of handcut letters in stone. So he spent most of his earlier career, carving hand cut celtic crosses and hand cut letters. He then started his own stone business in 1985 and now runs a very successful company with to up 90 employees.

Since a very young age, Cathal has been a very keen sportsman and has won many orienteering events and mountain marathons. He has set himself many difficult tests and tasks to raise money for charity like climbing Croagh Patrick seven times in under 14 hours and climbing to the highest point in all 32  Irish counties in 98 hours.

In 2004, Cathal led a team that broke the world record for climbing the five highest mountains in all five countries in the British Isles in 16 hours and 15 minutes. Cathal’s team still holds this record.

As a sportsman, Cathal became very interested in healthy eating, so he then decided to study  nutrition and became a nutritional councillor in 2012. He started writing poetry and short stories in 2015 after the experience of the recession on his and other people’s lives.

In 2008, he met Jackie when travelling together as volunteers with IHCPT (Irish Pilgrimage Trust), an organization that takes special needs children   to Lourdes, France every Easter. He became very interested in Jackie’s work in Peru and the lives of many sick people at Mama Ashu Hospital in Chacas, and since then, has been fundraising for the hospital.

Mama Ashu Hospital, Chacas, Peru

Where your money goes, if you buy this book

All the income obtained from the sale of the book will go directly to Mama Ashu Hospital, Peru to purchase medicine and equipment needed to help the sick people in the Andes.

How the money is used

Operación Matto Grosso (OMG). The OMG is a movement composed principally of young Italians who give their time to help the very poor in Perú, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia. Their biggest mission in Perú is based in Chacas.

Operación Matto Grosso (OMG) and their work in Chacas, Perú

San Martin de Chacas (city of the stone) is located in the east-central region of Ancash, in the Peruvian Andes. It has a population of 2,082 and it is located at 3,359 meters above sea level, surrounded by the stunning mountain peaks of the “Cordillera Blanca” (white range of mountains). Chacas was founded in the 1570s by the Spanish, but long before the Spanish arrived in this area, pre Inca civilizations like Chavín de Huántar and Huari, settled here.

The OMG is a movement composed principally of young Italians who give their time to help the very poor in Perú, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia. Their biggest mission in Perú is based in Chacas. In the 70s, the first volunteers started working to collect donations in Italy in order to help Father Ugo de Censi, an Italian priest who had decided to live in Chacas, at the time a very remote and poor village. The next step for the volunteers was to go on a mission and learn about the lives of these very poor and neglected people. They became directly involved with the problems of

the poor communities, such as those related to agriculture, building of houses, education and health. Nowadays, there are over 2500 Italian volunteers  who reside in South America. They are supported by thousands more in Italy who raise funds there to help  the mission. Recently, fundraising in Ireland has also started to support this work.

Among the most important work that the OMG has in place now in the Andes in Perú are:

Technological Institute 

Young men study here to obtain a degree as an Art Specialist in wood and stone crafting, sculpture, restauration, artistic painting, stained glass windows and others. After obtaining their degree, they can join the “Family of Crafters Don Bosco” which is an industrial cooperative in which they can work in their own specialties making wooden and stone furniture, paintings, etc. These are sold in Europe  (mainly in Italy) and in USA, and in this way, the  young men earn a salary and support their own families and at the same time the mission can  continue obtaining funds for their continue work.

Workshop, School & Weaving Co-operative 

Young women are taught the techniques of hand and machine weaving obtain a degree and then join the cooperative where alpaca jerseys and “ponchos” are made and exported to Italy to be sold there.

Nursing and Midwifery School 

This was created with the aim that young people could be trained as nurses and/or midwifes, remain in their own local towns and work in the local hospitals, health centres and rural communities.

Hospital Mama Ashu-Chacas 

Funded entirely with donations. The doctors and nurses working there are mostly Italian but also Peruvians, who volunteer their time and expertise to help the very poor and the sick. Recently, Irish doctors and University College Cork students have been volunteering at the hospital too.

Homes for Elderly, Special Needs Children and Adults, Orphans and Malnourished Children

All along the different villages in the Andes where the OMG has volunteers, homes like these have been created to help the most vulnerable. They become permanent residents of these homes, and are provided with accommodation, food   and a caring environment.

For more information about the OMG’s work in Peru visit or search YouTube for Operación Matto Grosso.

A little bit about Dr. Jackie…

Dr Jackelina (Jackie) Pando Kelly was born in Lima, Peru, from a Peruvian father and an Irish mother. She did her undergraduate training at a medical school in Peru, and then moved to Ireland and completed her Paediatric training in 2010. She is currently a Clinical Lecturer at the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health at University College Cork (UCC) and works also in the Out-patients Paediatric Department at Cork University Hospital.

As a medical student, Jackie started working for the OMG (Operation Matto Grosso) which is a movement of Italian volunteers working in Peru, funded in 1967, by Father Hugo de Censi, Italian priest living in Peru since then. In 1994 the OMG inaugurated the Mama Ashu Hospital in the rural town of Chacas, at 11,000 feet above sea level in the Andes.

Funds for medicine and other necessary supplies are now raised by volunteer groups in Italy and most recently, in Ireland too. The hospital depends entirely on doctors and nurses, Italian, Peruvian and Irish who volunteer their time and services. The hospital provides health services to over 8000 people, who without this help wouldn’t have any medical care.

Jackie continues to work at the hospital as a volunteer each summer. Since 2012, she has been taking UCC medical students to the hospital to do an elective rotation during the summer, while Jackie works as a Paediatric doctor there. Jackie has also been able to take junior doctors to Peru who are doing their paediatric training in Ireland. She is the only Paediatric doctor who volunteers in the hospital, so children have to wait for her annual visit every July to be seen if they have specific paediatric conditions that other doctors cannot resolve for them.

Jackie believes is important to continue taking medical students to Peru, as there is a need that young people, open their eyes, minds and hearts to the needs of millions of people as those living in the Andes in South America. She hopes that giving this opportunity to the students will provide them with a life changing experience that will guide them and bring insight into their future careers as doctors. Before travelling every year, Jackie and the medical students do fundraising activities to purchase medicines for the hospital.

Get in touch

If you would like to contact Cathal to find out more about this book of poems or maybe how you could contribute in some way to the project, then please do so by filling in the contact form