This Westport Civic Trust lecture will take place onTuesday, April 23 at 8pm at the Westport Coast Hotel and will be given by Noeline Haylett, who is a remarkable woman and humanitarian.
She was born in South Africa and grew up there during the Apartheid era; she left her country as she could tolerate the system no longer. As a result of her early experiences and a driven moral conscience, she works tirelessly for the voiceless and needy.
Noeline came to live in Kilmeena in 1978 and as a trained home economics teacher worked with Western Care, creating the first Rural Training Centre in the country. Her earliest contact with Ghana was with the Reverend Sylvanus Botsyoe who had established the Evangelical Community Mission in Ho caring for the most marginalised in his community: street children, lepers, women forced into prostitution to earn a living to feed their children and the disabled.
As an avid gardener one of his projects was to teach gardening that people could be self-sufficient, so he wrote 199 letters to agencies abroad asking for help, to no avail. His 200th, and last letter, was to Noeline.
Noeline sent him her gardening programme which had been validated by the then EEC, some seeds, advice and a donation. Sylvanus' programme was so successful that a Government minister asked him to take a few street girls to train. These 'few girls' turned out to be a bus full. After a frantic phone call asking Noeline's advice, at her suggestion he set up a home economics and sewing school.
From these seeds grew the Ghana container programme. Fund raising and gathering donated equipment locally, Noeline sent out a 20' container with the necessary equipment; sewing machines, cooking utensils and everything to launch this new project.
Since 1996 another twenty one 40' containers have followed, equipping schools, clinics and farms with four ambulances, five tractors, a plough, a school bus, a motor bike, a quad, many bicycles, medical and educational supplies. Noeline has also, through her own and local community efforts, raised funds to construct schools and clinics where none existed before
Noeline has also, through more local fundraising, drilled many boreholes where the need was greatest, bringing clean, fresh water to communities who previously had only dirty, polluted water for all their drinking, cooking and washing. Water, that in many instances had to be carried many miles from the source and carried waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, bilharzia and the Guinea worm.
Come and hear Noeline's singular story in her own words. Sustained by a strong and idiosyncratic faith and with the help of many loyal, willing and hardworking volunteers, this compassion, generosity, hard work and unremitting effort is making a lasting difference to the lives of some of the most isolated and poverty-stricken people in Ghana.
No booking is required for this lecture, and more details may be had from Paddy Duffy on (086 ) 3286361. This is the last lecture in the current series; the new programme will follow in September.