Your brakes fail and your car plunges from a pier into a February-frigid harbor. You are thrown to safety but your four-month old daughter, trapped in her car seat, drowns. Four years after that horror, you return from a trip to the shore and lift your four-month-old son from his carrier only to realize he’s dead, too, a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Twenty-two years later, your 25-year old son drowns while swimming in a Malawi, Africa lake. How do you survive that first death, never mind the second, or the third?
Ask Mags Riordan of County Kerry, Ireland. Only the blessing of her son Billy, the boy who later drowned, carried Mags through those first two deaths. Her reaction to Billy’s loss caused Mags to do something beyond simple survival, though — it caused her to do something transformative, and remarkable. Returning to Malawi on the one-year anniversary of Billy’s death, she saved the life of a local boy who would otherwise have died from a simple infection, and realized the desperate need for a medical clinic. With virtually no relevant experience, medical or otherwise, Mags founded a clinic that to date has saved and transformed the lives of tens of thousands of Malawians.
If any of us wonders “What can one person do?” we need only look to Mags Riordan as a living, breathing example of someone who put aside her despair, and her comfort zone, in an effort to help and heal, proving the world truly can be changed, even by just two hands, and one single broken heart.