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A charitable challenge for Ennis siblings

SIBLINGS Katie and Conor McEnery packed their bags last September and headed back to their roots, in Tanzania from where they had emigrated to Ennis a decade ago.
Kate McEnery at the top of KilimanjaroTheir trip merged a reunion with school friends and scaling the summit of Kilimanjaro to raise funds for an orphanage in their old home town of Morogoro.
The old school buddies converged from all corners of the globe but, unfortunately, disaster struck before the first step was taken. Conor was badly bitten on the foot by a dog while two others were laid low with swine ’flu. The trio had to sit out the climb but rejoined the group for the visit to Morogoro orphanage.
Of the six to set out from the foothills, only Katie McEnery and one other made it to top, in a climb that Katie describes as “the hardest thing I have ever done in my life”.
“At the same time, it was a wonderful experience that will remain with me forever. It was the most spectacular scenery and the most rewarding feeling standing on top of Africa,” she reflects.
Due to a successful quiz night hosted in Ennis and the generous offerings of family and friends, Conor and Katie raised €800, and, with the efforts of the whole group, a total of €6,000 has been raised so far.
After the climb, the group visited the orphanage in Morogoro and met the orphanage’s owner, Robert Simba, his wife and the children and were one and all touched by these people’s stoicism.
They are deeply trusting in Robert, a kindly, soft-spoken man and his equally inspiring wife and that the money given to them will be spent wisely. Robert was a rock ‘n’ roll star in Tanzania but when he retired, he and his wife saw the desperate needs of some children in their home town.
They are housing and looking after 24 children at present. Robert is currently building two new buildings outside of town, as their current residence is cramped and lacking proper amenities. The buildings are almost finished, as Robert has proven efficient in overseeing their construction, procuring money and services tirelessly to ensure a quick build time.
They are expected to be finished by the end of the year but it is the everyday necessities of the building post-completion to which donations are essential. These include clean, running water, blankets, beds and clothes. The children currently living in the cramped old orphanage are one and all delightful and cheerful, which is staggering considering some of their backgrounds – parents lost from AIDS, many of them living on the streets before Mr Simba invited them into his home.
This is a man who in his youth was a household name, for whom caring for children has become a heartfelt priority in his post-rock ‘n’ roll life. Now thanks to him, his wife and people like those in Ennis who have donated money, all of the children have been or are being educated. Three have left for university and six are waiting to enter kindergarten. One plays guitar beautifully and all are a joy to listen to when singing. Two of the international group, a couple recently married, asked that all their wedding gifts be money donations to the orphanage and brought football jerseys for the boys who are soccer-mad and now are a real team.
As there is no water supply to the area, Robert needs to drill a well. This will cost something in the region of €12,000 and is therefore the primary concern. Robert made it clear to the group that water, above all other things, is essential if the new orphanage is to survive and become partly self-sufficient.
With water, they will be able to grow their own food, reducing daily costs considerably.
Katie and Conor are continuing to try to raise money and people who wish to donate to the project can contact them on kili@safi.ie, or by visiting www.safi.ie/morogoro.

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