A project which was started up more than 15 years ago by a former Glenrothes-based nun to support an African community in the Congo is appealing for people in Fife to help keep it going.
The Gorsilaure project was set up by Sister Margaret Rose Scullion of the Convent of Notre Dame in 2000 when she returned from Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she witnessed a violent civil war, disease and famine.
Amazed by the indomitable spirit of the people there, she determined to do what she could to help them.
She contacted friends and colleagues in Glenrothes where she had lived and worked as well as in the Dumbarton area where she returned to work and since then the project has built and equipped a children’s village for 86 orphans and their carers, a school for 2000 children and a hospital, as well as helping families to learn agricultural skills and become self sustaining through help with fish farming and animal farming.
With help from friends and colleagues in the area, Sister Margaret Rose enlisted the help of schools and groups around Fife in support of the Gorsilaure Project, enabling money to be sent regularly to Father Simon, the local priest in the area.
During her time in Glenrothes during the 1970s and 80s, she taught in St. Paul’s Primary School, as well as becoming an Associate of Dundee College of Education and obtained a Masters in French and Theology from St. Andrews University.
The friendships she formed throughout these years has helped her to raise a huge amount of money for the project over the years, with local woman Pat McAuley, one of the main volunteers in the area, given great local support – both from Fife schools, including St. Paul’s, Tanshall and St. John’s Primaries, St. Andrew’s and St. Margaret’s Secondaries – as well as from individuals.
Sister Margaret Rose said: “Throughout the 15 years of the project’s existence, we came from the west to Glenrothes each year to update the project’s supporters in Fife with presentations on Gorsilaure developments in the Congo.”
However, after the committee of volunteers decided to retire last year due to advancing years and illness, it was feared that the project could be in jeopardy, as it receives very little in the way of funding from the country’s government.
People among the local Catholic community both in Fife and in the west of Scotland vowed to continue their support.
In Fife, Dalgety Bay man Peter Harding is acting as an administrator for people who wish to offer their support to the project through making regular donations.
He came to be involved in the project through his family’s friendship with Sister Margaret Rose when she lived and worked in Glenrothes.
He said: “The Gorsilaure Project has achieved a huge amount over the years for the children in the area, and I was happy to be able to help keep the support going.
“Anyone who would like to contribute, even if it just a few pounds a month, can do so by contacting me and I can set up a standing order for them. As I say, a little is a lot in this case and it can do a lot to help the people to become self sufficient.”
A letter from Father Simon to those who have helped over the years said: “Lent is that precious, God-given time when the Lord invites us to take stock of the realities of our world and to open our hearts anew in loving outreach to its poorest people.
“Please do not forget our poor children of the Congo – which is one of the poorest countries in the whole of the continent of Africa. No message could be more urgent than the reminder that our Congolese people continue to live in the worst kind of misery.
“But we do not lose hope because we know that, with your help, our children will be enabled to turn our Congo into a veritable paradise.”
Sister Margaret Rose added: “Not only do the Congolese people continue to live in the worst kind of poverty, they have also been more or less abandoned by the developed world.
“The people if Glenrothes and Fife have been extremely generous in the past with their donations, and I would urge them to continue to do so through Mr Harding.”
If you would like to donate please call Peter Harding on 07963 606 677.