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Labour of love bring thanks from Malawi to Hillsborough

The Hillsborough team before they set off to Malawi Everyone who took part in the sportathon and helped raise money for the project in Malawi
The Hillsborough team before they set off to Malawi Everyone who took part in the sportathon and helped raise money for the project in Malawi

A TEAM from Hillsborough Presbyterian Church have spent a year raising much needed funds and supplies for an impoverished region of Malawi after spending time at a building project there with Habitat for Humanity.

The 15 strong team visited a project in an area of Lilongwe called Area 49, a 250 plot project designed to combat poverty housing in three illegal settlements in slums on the outskirts of the city last year.

They went to two of the slums to help them understand the urgency of the situation, the depths of the poverty and the need for change. During the course of their 15 day trip they managed to complete one house and provide a further 5,328 of extra funding for Habitat for Humanity to enable their work in Malawi to continue.

On their last day of building the team visited Shire Urban Primary School for 5-18 year olds, taking a variety of toys and educational supplies purchased from team fundraising efforts and sports equipment donated by Laurelhill Community College.

The Shire Urban Primary School in Malawi Jenny Hicks, Pamela Gourley and Kathryn McCrossan during the sportathon to raise funds for the project in Malawi. Some of the children the team from Hillsborough Presbyterian Church met during their visit to Malawi
The Shire Urban Primary School in Malawi, which benefitted from the funds raised by the Hillsborough Presbyterian Church team. Jenny Hicks, Pamela Gourley and Kathryn McCrossan during the sportathon to raise funds for the project in Malawi. Some of the children the team from Hillsborough Presbyterian Church met during their visit to Malawi

For many of the team this was the most moving experience of all. It prompted them, on their return to Hillsborough, to brainstorm ideas to continue supporting these two very worthwhile organisations.

What ensued from this trip has been a long labour of love. The team held a special service in Hillsborough Presbyterian Church in October 2007 and raised 603.58 from a retiring offering. It was decided this should be put towards sending out a further container of clothing, furniture and school equipment. But 3,562 remained to be raised to meet the cost involved, not to mention collecting and organising all the necessary materials for distribution.

Their first fundraising effort was a bake sale at Annahilt GB, which was very well received by parents and girls. The team then held a gruelling 12 hour sportathon from 8pm to 8am on April 12-13, raising 1,030 through sponsorship. They were also greatly assisted in their efforts by generous donations from Hillsborough GB Company and from the charity committee of Laurelhill Community College.

Superb quality baby and children's clothing was provided by the staff and parents of Rathcoole Primary School in North Belfast and the team were indebted to Laurelhill teachers Mr George Mullan and Mr Derek McClelland for securing educational resources from Middletown School (which was closing down to become a centre for autism).

Lisa Scott, team leader, with the donated clothes, before being sent to Malawi. Some of the children the Hillsborough team met in Malawi.
Lisa Scott, team leader, with the donated clothes, before being sent to Malawi. Some of the children the Hillsborough team met in Malawi.

The filled container was sent to Shire Urban Primary School earlier this year and a letter from the school principal, Mrs Dinah Malowa, proved just how much it was appreciated.

"I write to acknowledge with a deep sense of gratitude the receipt of various school items which you, together with your colleagues, sent to us" she said.

"School pupils, my fellow teachers and school management, committee members join me in thanking you most sincerely for your thoughtfulness and willingness in making such an enormous donation to this school. Surely your donation will go a long way in improving the quality of education at this school. You have really changed our school and the books are so good for the learners and teachers."

Ulster Star
19/12/2008