Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Magheragall team prepare for a mission of mercy to South Africa


AN eleven strong team from Magheragall Presbyterian Church are busy preparing for the trip of a lifetime to South Africa in the summer.

The team, all ladies, will be travelling to Pietermaritzberg near Durban to provide support for a Missions Project in the area.

They will not only be offering financial support, but more importantly they will be providing vital manpower by helping in a number of projects, including teaching at a local school.

There are five main projects the local team, which includes teachers, nurses and social workers, will be taking part in.

First, they will be working in community care, with children and care workers affected by HIV/AIDS.

There is also a homeless shelter, which some of the team will be volunteering at, helping to provide food, shelter and human kindness to homeless men and women.

At the Pregnancy Crisis Centre, the team will be providing care and support to women who have become pregnant due to rape or domestic sexual abuse and at the baby hospice they will have the often difficult role of working with and caring for children who are HIV positive or have been orphaned as a result of AIDS.

Finally some of the team, like team leader Julie Anderson, will be putting their teaching skills to good use at the Gateway School.

The team will also be getting down to some hard labour by helping to build toilet blocks and classrooms at the school, as well as refurbishing the existing classrooms.

Explaining more about the three-week visit at the end of July, Julie said: "One of my friends I went to university with has been working with Project Gateway for a few years and when she is home I hear a lot about it.

"Gateway took over an old prison and converted it into a building to run all their projects.

"They run the Duduza Home and Esther House for women in distress, as well as a homeless shelter and a community care project to help people in the community to deal with HIV and reduce the risks of spreading the disease.

"They want manpower rather than money," continued Julie. "There are different projects running all the time and we will be working in the baby hospice and volunteering in the overnight shelter. "There is a nurse and a social worker in our team who will help in the community care centre and there are a couple of us who are teachers so we are going to help in the school.

"There is also a building project to build toilet blocks so we will all be helping with that." Having spoken with her friend and seen photographs of the projects, Julie is prepared for what they will face in South Africa, but some of the rest of the team remain slightly nervous about the experience.

"Everybody is looking forward to going. There are a few nervous travellers and no-one really knows what to expect at the other end."

The team have been busy fundraising and everyone at the church has been rallying round to help with the effort.

Having already held fireside quizzes and a concert last summer, the fundraising drive is already going well, however, the team hope to raise more money to take to South Africa with them, as well as helping to finance their own expenses.

"We are holding an auction on Saturday, April 8 in Magheragall Presbyterian Church Hall," added Julie. "The lots have been donated by people in the church and we are also hoping local businesses will offer some items for auction. Viewing will start from 1pm and the auction will start at 2pm.

"We are also holding a beetle drive in the church hall on Saturday, March 4 at 7.30pm. The event will be for all the family and supper will be served afterwards."

The team will spend three weeks in South Africa during the summer, providing this much-needed help to a very worthy project and they are keen to have the support of everyone in the local community.

"If anyone would like more information about the project, would like to offer sponsorship or could help in anyway, we would be delighted to hear from them," concluded Julie.

If you would like more information about the project or can help the team in anyway, please contact Julie on 07740 583984