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Foundation Ministries offers a new helping hand

THE most vulnerable people in Ennis are being offered a helping hand of friendship as part of a recently launched initiative.
On Sunday, Foundation Ministries Ennis launched their Friendship Centre offering support for the lonely, homeless and addicts who want to turn their lives around.
The centre was officially launched by Deputy Mayor of Ennis Frankie Neylon as Foundation Ministries celebrated their 10th anniversary in the town.
Chinwe Obadeyi of the church explained that in the past year, they have helped between 10 and 15 people through the centre.
“This centre is about offering friendship and training to people who are homeless, those battling with alcohol or people who are just lonely for whatever reason. This isn’t an unmanned drop-in centre. We have opening hours and trained volunteers who are here at all times. This is for people who are willing to work with us to add meaning to their lives. We are here for people who want the help, seven days a week from 11am to 5pm.
Speaking about one case in particular, she said, “We picked him from the streets and we talked to him and his life has now changed. Alcohol to him was a sickness and he hasn’t had a drink in months. He now has value to his life whereas he was sinking before. When you are in the company of others who do the same thing, you become blinded but we are trying to open people’s eyes. We try to give value to life, to let them know they are not rejects. We show them a form of friendship, we invite them to our houses, we eat with them, we talk with them, we make them feel like they are human beings and not rejects. Some of these people, their families have written them off and we feel for them and we love them. We have had families reuniting as a result of what is being done here.”
As well as offering friendship, the centre will also offer training. “When you come out of an addiction you need something to occupy yourself.For example, for those who have an interest in computers, we will teach them computing. If there is an interest in crafts, we will teach that. Anything we have the resources to do, we will do freely. There will also be some teachings with some of our messages, free tea and coffee and if they need clothes, we have second-hand clothes here. This is free for all.”
Explaining why they decided to set up the centre, Chinwe said, “I have noticed that many Irish people are lonely, they have nobody to talk to for whatever reason. This centre is for those who are lonely to come to, for those who are not wanted, so that there is a place where somebody can put their hand up and say they are somebody. This is for those who want value in their lives. We have been doing the work on the ground for the past 12 months, with people coming to our homes for food and a chat but we wanted to have a bigger place which is why we opened the friendship centre.”
She praised the church’s members who have helped raise funds for the centre. She also explained that there are hopes to expand the work in the future. “With the economy the way it is at the moment, this centre is needed now more than ever,” she said.
Last week saw Foundation Ministries celebrate 10 years in Ennis, with Chinwe saying, “I never thought things would have grown so much in the last 10 years.”
She first came to Ennis in 2000 after her family fled their home in Nigeria. Foundation Ministries began in 2001 in Chinwe and her husband, Albert’s home. “We started off in my sitting room, with my husband, myself, my children and my mum as the first congregates. We started off very small and it grew and grew.”
The church has had a variety of homes since it began. They spent some time at St Columba’s Church on Bindon Street, with Chinwe praising Rev Bob Hanna for his support. Now they have settled at the Elevation Business Park where five days of celebrations took place last week.
“The celebrations were greatly attended. We had a large crowd and ministers from all across the globe and from almost all the counties of Ireland came to honour us in the celebration. We had choirs from different churches in Ennis and across the country join us and it was fantastic,” she said.
In recent years, Foundation Ministries have become well known for their Afro-Irish musical concert. Chinwe explains that music plays a vital role in the church. “God gives us strength in spiritual music, it’s a very, very strong instrument. It’s also a very good tool for integration because good music is a language that whether you’re black, white, blue, yellow or pink, when you have good rhythm and the song is nice then people will go for it.”
The weekend also saw the launch of Chinwe’s first book featuring teachings titled You Are. “It’s very important for people to understand who they are. This is the first book I have launched in Ireland and it took about six months to put together. This is a book of teachings, about knowing who you are. It’s for everyone, believers or non-believers.”
She praised those in Foundation Ministries for their role in the celebrations saying, “They have spent their love, their money and their time in making the celebrations a success.” She also acknowledged the people of Ennis for their support and welcome over the past 10 years.

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