Wigan nun's mission to help children in Africa

Sister Margaret Rose
Sister Margaret Rose

A locally-based nun who helped to found a mercy mission in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo has made a fresh appeal for help as the country spirals into further decline.

The Gorsilaure Project was the brainchild of Sister Margaret Rose Scullion who, 10 years ago, was determined to improve the lot of destitute children in the African state.

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While in the country she saw the appalling consequences of poverty and violence with whole families ravaged by disease, violence and starvation before she was forcibly repatriated to Britain.

At that time her home was Dumbarton in Scotland but since retiring from the project due to ill health she has been a resident of the Convent of Notre Dame in Parbold.

But that hasn’t stopped the 76-year-old promoting the cause’s work, calling for further charitable donations and citing both the tragedies that prompted its launch and the successes that ensued.

Through donations the project - named after people known by Sister Margaret Rose in the Congo - has built and equipped a children’s village for scores of orphans and their carers, a school for 2,000 children and a hospital, as well as helping families to learn agricultural skills.

The person Sister Margaret Rose chose to administer this aid was, and still is, Father Simon Lumbela, a hard-working, honest, spiritual man who had worked alongside Sister during her time in the Congo. He accepted children regardless of their religion or beliefs.

Initially donations were simply used to buy food and medical supplies in order to attend to orphans’ daily needs on an urgent basis.

But support grew throughout the UK due to Sister Margaret Rose’s appeals to schools, parishes and individuals. Money was sent out monthly, with the Sisters of Notre Dame covering the costs. The village now has its own livestock and runs a small hospital.

After the project featured in the Wigan media at the turn of the year, the project was delighted to receive donations from readers.

But the country has been beset with new problems since, prompting a fresh call for help.

Sister Margaret Rose said: “I don’t know how to begin to thank the Wigan Observer and Wigan Post readers for their support of the Gorsilaure project.

“But it is clear the situation there is getting anything but easier and more support would be very much welcomed.”

Readers can make donations or set up standing orders to The Gorsilaure Project’s Royal Bank of Scotland account (sort code 832901, account number 00684017) or send cheques or postal orders payable to the Gorsilaure Project to Peter Harding, 6 Sealstrand, Dalgety Bay KY11 9NG, Fife, Scotland. He can be contacted on 01383 822540.