A fundraising group founded by Mooncoin farmer John Crowley which assists children and their mothers in Cape Town was thanked for its sterling efforts in Kilkenny last week.

Ronni Mehl and Sharmelia Cornelius, who work for the ‘Women In Need’ (WIN) programme, travelled to Kilkenny to thank John Crowley and the 144 donors who support their project.

They met with donors in Langton’s on Monday week last, having previously met with South Kilkenny, South Tipperary and Waterford donors in Comerford’s Lounge in Mooncoin on September 26th.

The fundraising group, titled the ‘Friends of Zelda’s House’, donated a total of €10,500 (120,000 South African Rand) between April 2007 and January ’08 alone, a great example of local generosity at its best.

“WIN is about helping people to help themselves,” according to Ms Mehl, WIN’s programme manager.

“The affirmation that we receive for our work from so many people here in Ireland through your wonderful generosity, is quite difficult to put into words.

“When I see how happy the children are and when I see the relationships that have developed because of your involvement, I am filled, almost overwhelmed with pride. And being here in Kilkenny with you, to say thank you, is a very, very proud moment for me.”

For the past four years, the ‘FOZH’ has assisted WIN to undertake what Ms Mehl described as “meaningful and transformative work amongst the destitute homeless, especially our little children”.

A total of 31 children currently attend both Zelda’s House and the WIN Playhouse, where Sharmelia Cornelius proudly serves as principal. Ms Cornelius was initially a beneficiary of the WIN programme and subsequently attained the qualifications required to work alongside Ronni.

“I am very grateful to you and very happy to be working with these wonderful children,” she said. “Your generosity has given me the chance to help children in a way I never thought possible, so thank you ever so much.”

Sharmelia added: “If it wasn’t for the help of donors, we couldn’t do this enormously rewarding work. Improving the lives of mothers, that of their children’s and in turn strengthening the bond between mother and child is difficult to place a value on.”

John Crowley saluted the efforts of Ronni and Sharmelia and spoke for all when describing them as extraordinary people.

“Ronni and Sharmelia are, I’m sure you’d all agree, special people, the sort of people you’d want to be associated with in any way, shape or form,” he said.

“And to get to know them the way we all have, to visit Cape Town as quite a few of us have done and see how your money is helping children and their mothers, has been some experience. And I’d like to think being involved in this, in fact I know being involved in this, has made all of us better people.”

John concluded: “This is a brilliant programme; one that I know will continue to go from strength to strength.”

And as long as John is at the helm at this end of the operation, and Ronni and Sharmelia continue to perform such a wonderful job in Cape Town, there’s little doubt that the ties binding WIN and FOZH will remain taught.