Thursday, 27 October 2011

Recognition for Theresa

Monday the 17th of October saw the Annual Women of the Year Lunch take place at the InterContinental Hotel in London. For 56 years this ceremony has celebrated the contribution of "exceptional women who have each proved an inspiration to others through their courage, selflessness and dedication." 
MfM Coordinator and "Women of the Year" Invitee Theresa Haine
This year the ceremony had an extra-special significance for all of us here at Money for Madagascar because, rubbing shoulders with luminaries such as Maureen Lipman, Sandi Toksvig, Bianca Jagger, Esther Rantzen, Sue MacGregor, Juliet Stevenson, Shirley Williams, Joanna Trollope and Lulu, was our very own Coordinator Theresa Haine.

Theresa declared herself "moved, honoured and rather overwhelmed" to find herself among the select group of extra-ordinary women from around the UK whose achievements and contribution to the community were celebrated during a heart-warming, inspiring and emotional ceremony.

Theresa (far left)  with some of her fellow "Women of the Year"
Invited in recognition of more than two decades of work supporting vulnerable people and communities in Madagascar, Theresa was proud to attend on behalf of the many inspirational people who have helped raise funds for Money for Madagascar through the years. She also followed in the footsteps of her mother who herself was a past invitee to the  "Women of the Year"  Lunch in recognition of her work during the Second World War.

Having hugely enjoyed the touching and at times extremely humorous contributions of the guest speakers and shared a table with a number of cast members of the Archers, Theresa's highlight of the day was the attendance of suffragette Hettie Dorlan who was honoured at the ceremony. Theresa takes up the story: "Hettie, who is now 106 years old, was out in Trafalgar Square demonstrating for peace last month! She got a prolonged standing ovation and was presented with a huge basket of flowers.  I just felt it was a privilege to be in the same room as her."

Theresa at the awards.
Speaking of the ceremony, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, President of the Women of the Year, said: “The magic of this event is that it does what no other awards ceremony manages to do. It brings together the most fabulous women from the widest range of geographical, social, ethnic and political backgrounds – from the very well-known to unsung heroines doing outstanding work in their community... Their achievements, dedication and passion are an inspiration to women everywhere, encouraging us all to fulfill our ambitions, support others and stand up for what we believe in.”

All of us here at Money for Madagascar take great pleasure in congratulating Theresa and also offering our heartfelt thanks to the many friends, donors and  supporters whose kindness and dedication has helped achieve so much. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Turning miles into smiles

Throughout our 25th anniversary year supporters of Money for Madagascar have run, cycled, waded and hiked hundreds of miles to raise thousands of pounds for people and communities half a world away. So busy has this blog been following their exploits that we've barely had time to stop for breath and focus on what the hard work of our irrepressible supporters has made possible.
Vulnerable young women enjoying a chance to learn new skills thanks to the hard work of MfM supporters
For many years Money for Madagascar has supported the work of "The Sisters of the Good Shepherd" in Antananarivo. These inspirational women offer support, education and care to some of the hundreds of homeless and destitute people who struggle to scrape a living on the streets of Antananarivo. Having spent years helping children and families the Sisters have long wished to expand their activities to offer hope and new opportunities to the many impoverished and homeless young women of Antananarivo who, lacking a basic education and career prospects, face a stark choice between starvation, crime or prostitution.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Creedon Brothers and MfM Patron, Hilary Bradt, this month sees the launch of a programme of vocational training aimed at providing the vital career skills needed to begin lifting vulnerable young women between the ages of 14 and 16 out of poverty. Thanks to blood, sweat and tears of Andrew, Jonathan and Hilary and the amazing generosity of those who sponsored them, this week forty teenage girls have started a programme of education which will boost their skills and confidence and ultimately, we hope, lead them into paying employment and stable, happy futures.

As well as learning traditional skills such as dress-making and catering, participants in the course will also study Information Technology and receive coaching and counselling to help give them the best possible chance once they enter the labour market.
On hearing the news that enough money had now been raised to begin this long wished-for programme Sister Annamma, head of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, wrote to us to say "On behalf of all the team here, thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for this good news. We will make sure we keep you up to date with all our progress. A thousand thanks for your generosity and kindness".
A delighted Sister Annamma, head of the Centre Fihavanana, home of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
This vocational training programme will continue for three years and help change the lives of eighty homeless and destitute young women who would otherwise have faced harsh futures of deprivation, crime or worse. We hope that Andrew, Jonathan, Hilary and the many friends, family and colleagues who supported them share our joy in giving some of the world's most vulnerable young people a chance to escape poverty and, for the first time in their lives, begin to have hope for the future.

Of course Hilary and the Creedon Brothers were not the only heroes to have sacrificed their soles (or saddles) on behalf of the people of Madagascar this year. Stay tuned to the blog to hear more news of how the Olympian efforts of other supporters have helped change lives in Madagascar.

STOP PRESS: Not content with having run the London 10k and hurled herself out of an aeroplane so far this year MFM patron Hilary Bradt will be running the Great South Run on October the 30th. Please visit if you haven't already!