Longton Open Gardens helping people across the world
PUBLISHED: 00:48 09 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:36 20 February 2013
Visiting a Lancashire garden is a lovely day out and it can help people around the world, writes Liz Knight
Strolling round someone elses garden is a popular summer pastime, especially when theres a cup of tea, a bowl of strawberries or an ice cream on offer. For the four Lancashire women, whose charities benefit from the Longton Open Gardens on July 15, the event means a link with very different worlds.
Take Carol Halton who will be marshalling the team serving buffet lunches in the WI Hall in School Lane while displaying some of the craft work created by Jireh Women, a Christian organisation that helps women in poverty to set up their own small businesses.
The display will include beautiful necklaces crafted from recycled glossy magazines which help provide a livelihood for those involved in Ugandas Women of Worth charity. It was this organisation that inspired Carol, from Chorley, to set up Jireh Women. Jireh means the Lord sees and provides and the organisation works to empower women, offering them loans to set up micro-businesses.
Ive been involved in mission projects for 17 years, says Carol. When the Women of Worth asked if I could help sell their necklaces, it seemed the right thing to do. Each necklace is a work of art and takes a week to make.
Her own charity now has six trustees, with Carol as its director. She takes beads and other handcrafted items and the Jireh message to events across the north west.
Thanks to this Lancashire group a number of women in Zambia and India now have their own businesses, with skills which include rearing sheep, making copper items, running a vegetable stall and tailoring.
With encouragement the skys the limit. In Uganda, with the help of Jireh Women loans, others are sewing evening bags, have opened a nursery school and even a wedding dress hire shop. Money from the repaid loans is ploughed back into child sponsorship schemes, giving a double benefit to these communities.
Cath Greenlees will have Timmy the tortoise as her Franklands garden star, alongside a book stall and Fairtrade products.
Caths connection with Christian Aid began at university and strengthened when a fellow teacher urged her to join her area committee. Shes been secretary for the Longton group since the late 70s.
Sponsored walks around Longton and a cycle ride round the villages of South Ribble are among the many events that Cath and her team run. Last year she was awarded the MBE for her work for the charity.
Ive been lucky enough to see for myself in Uganda and the Middle East how the money we raise helps to fund life-changing projects. In Jericho I visited an education project providing vocational training for young Palestinians.
Christian Aids share of this years Open Gardens pot will go to a partnership scheme in Rwanda aiming to increase land productivity.
Mary Woodworth and husband Keith will be raising the profile of their Friends of Mulanje Orphans charity with a display in Barry Elliss lovely Marsh Lane garden.
Marys had death threats and spent nine days in a Malawi jail yet she and Keith are determined that their work will continue despite intimidation concerning land belonging to FOMO.
Returning to Mulanje for her fathers funeral, Mary was shocked by the number of small children at the service. They were hungry orphans seeking food.
Back home in Walmer Bridge, the couple raided their holiday fund and in 2000, with the support of a handful of friends, launched FOMO to help these victims of Malawis AIDS epidemic.
Today, the charity helps 5,500 children and has 13 centres where local staff and volunteers hand out 1.2 million meals a year. It runs a health clinic with ambulance and an outreach programme. FOMO funds primary and secondary school places and building has already begun on a FOMO secondary school. For older ones there is a chance to learn computer, tailoring and driving skills. Fun leisure activities are encouraged
too and FOMO FC has just won the national Presidential Cup.
We are determined to carry on feeding and helping these children, says Mary. Every penny we raise goes towards that. Already we have seen two of our students go to university.
Charlotte Moss, flight schedules permitting, will be helping her parents in their Orchard Lane garden. Charlotte has a second family apart from her one in Longton 116 Kenyan children who live in Nyumbani Childrens Home in Nairobi.
The relationships have evolved over the 14 years Charlotte and fellow BA cabin crew members have been raising funds and visiting the AIDS orphans. As a former staff nurse in a London hospital AIDS/HIV unit before working for BA, Charlotte is only too aware of the consequences of the disease.
Nyumbani is Swahili for home and that is what the place is, looking after children from new-born to 23 years. There is also an outreach project called Lea Toto and the Nyumbani Village which helps those left behind.
Often grandparents will be left with ten children to care for and Nyumbani helps them be self-sufficient.
The BA crew fund-raise constantly for their twice-yearly visits. Their Easter trip, complete with bunny and eggs, also saw delivery of hundreds of sports kit items and school uniforms.
We play and do fun things with the children, but the visits also give us a chance to talk to them, listen to their concerns. Weve watched them grow up and theyve become an extended family to us.
Cath Greenless added: We hope the Open Gardens is a lovely day out with something for everyone. Theres a display by the Hutton Art Group, buffet lunches and at least ten open gardens of all shapes and sizes around the village. Its an important day for the charities we support the money we raise from the Open Gardens really does make a difference for our charities.
Longton Open Gardens July 15th, 1pm to 5.30pm
Programme 3 (covers gardens and art exhibition). Buffet lunches, Longton WI Hall, School Lane noon to 1.30pm
Art exhibition in St Andrews Church Hall.
Contact www.jirehwomen.org to book a presentation or buy crafts
For more information on Nyumbani Childrens Home visit: www.nyumbani.org
For information on FOMO visit : www.fomo.co.uk.
For information on Christian Aid visit: www.christianaid.org.uk