THE Limerick-based philanthropist, J. P. McManus, has again donated major funding to the Newry Schools’ Project in Northern Nigeria.
News of Mr. McManus’ €40,000 grant reached Newry Democrat columnist Rowan Hand at the weekend.
The St Mary’s Primary and Secondary Schools are now bringing education to the area for the first time in the history of the people. The schools are twinned with Saint Mary’s Girls’ High School in Newry. Almost one thousand children, boys and girls, are now attending school.
Rowan and Father Donall O’Cathain of the Society of African Missions have been at the heart of the project, right from the start, 17 years ago.
Father Donall, from Cork, has spent his entire missionary life as part of the people and the life of North West Nigeria.
Rowan encountered the need in the area when he went to Nigeria 15 years ago and immediately set about contacting people in Ireland and the United States to raise the funds to help build the schools.
Last year, the Newry man was appointed by Bishop Bulus Dauwa Yohaanna , the Vicar Apostolic of Kontagora, in Niger State, as the Honorary Ambassador for the Children.
News of the new generosity of J. P. McManus reached Rowan at the week-end. His response was delight and great enthusiasm for the work still to be done.
Rowan said, “Once again Mr. McManus has shown his humanity and again has sent a great blessing to our children.
“We have been blessed by his trust and his confidence and I thank him on behalf of the children and the families we all serve.
“The secret of our success in the project lies in the detailed and careful manner in which Father Donall prepares his application for funding for work to be done.”
Donall comes back to Cork and to Newry for two months every summer. It is supposed to be a holiday but it is far from that. His time is taken up with the preparation of detailed accounts of how the money has been spent and how the children of Saint Mary’s have benefited.
“We visit our benefactors throughout the summer and bring them the good news of our work in Africa,” added Rowan.
“I am delighted to point out and to emphasise that every cent, euro, and pound donated to Father Donall, has gone into the blocks and cement and the iron of our school buildings. They have been built to last many, many generations.
“We cherish the families and together, Donall and I, are dedicated to the well-being of the people.
“Donall’s work is that of a priest in Africa, a builder of schools and clinics, and a project leader with the people.
“My work in Ireland is to speak of his work in Africa and to beg for the funds necessary to go further with our dream of education for all in the north-west territories of Nigeria.”
Rowan spoke of the need for on-going generosity toward Father Donall’s work. It is a direct appeal to other philanthropists in our community.
“Donall’s work is highly regarded by our funders in Ireland. We have carried the torch of outreach for the Irish League of Credit Unions Development Foundation who have been with us from the start. We are proud and grateful.
“Five years ago the J.P. McManus Charitable Trust came on board and with the amazing generosity of so many individuals, we have been delivering a high quality education and a primary medical care presence in our area of need.
“ I ask, if you are blessed with financial well-being in your life, please join our team and continue with Donall and me, and the people themselves, on our great journey in health and education.
“I am privileged to beg for your help on behalf of the children.”
Rowan Hand’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org