Quakers have always expressed their faith in action, particularly social action and peace making. The words of the French Quaker Stephen Grellet encapsulate the concern of Friends to live out their faith in a practical way.
I shall pass this way but once, if therefore there be any good thing I can do, let me do it now, let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again
Irish Quaker Faith in Action
The purpose of IQFA is to give practical and spiritual help and support to the Christian concerns of Irish Friends desiring to be guided to do God’s work in helping build His kingdom on Earth.
Recent projects include the following:
Masizame Children’s Shelter, PrettenbergBay, Republic of South Africa. Since 1992 this early childhood development centre has been caring for deprived children from the streets and from dysfunctional families. Masizame aims to get these disadvantaged children back into main stream education and society. IQFA provided €3,700 in 2012.
Cork Penny Dinners: 4 Little Hanover Street, Cork, has been providing a nourishing mid-day meal to hungry diners in return for a small coin for many many years. In June 2012 IQFA gladly supported this entirely voluntary charity with a grant of €5,300. Take a look at Cork Penny Dinners’ excellent website for pictures and new www.corkpennydinners.ie and scroll down to read a Quaker’s recent encounter with the diners.
Relebohile: Day Care Centre, Tumahole, Parys, 9585 Free State, South Africa. Relebohile means “we are grateful”. It was established in July 2007 by a German organisation and run by Murray and Margaret McMillan since 2009. The centre receives funding for Christmas food hampers, school uniforms and other school needs, books, emergency food aid, blankets and medicines. The centre cares for 220 orphans on a daily basis providing food twice a day and other supports. IQFA made a grant of €3,671 in 2012.
Many other projects were assisted, including:
Zimbabwe Food Relief, Zimbabwe €6,000
House Construction, Lesotho €5.000
Waljoke Foundation, Bolivia, for girls dormitories €4,000
Quaker Council for European Affairs, Belgium €3,000
Sustainability of Vulnerable People, Rwanda €4,000 (through Christian Aid),
Labour Rights for Stone Quarrying workers, Egypt €4,000 (through Christian Aid),
Quaker Women‘s Development, Mutoto School, Uganda €2,710
Friendly Water for the World, Kenya and Burundi €863
Irish School of Ecumenics, €1,000
Hlekweni, Training Centre, Zimbabwe £1,000
Relebohile Day Centre, South Africa £600
Friends of Hlekweni, Zimbabwe £1,000
Ramallah Friends International Centre, Palestine £600
Maitiú Ó Murchú
Clerk – December 2012
Cork Penny Dinners
I spent Monday morning, 15th. July, volunteering for Penny Dinners in Cork. Arriving at 9.30, I found about twelve volunteers already aproned and busy. The long tables had been set with plates of fairy cakes, dishes of sweets and chocolate bars arranged as well as plates of buttered bread, jugs of squash, water, glasses, even flowers. In the small kitchen area I was given the task first of setting out cups for teas and putting coffee into mugs. Next I was set to clear all the saucepans off a stainless steel low shelf, clean it and put them back. Cartons of milk were stacked in the fridge, sliced pans stored on a low shelf. After that help was needed peeling and washing potatoes for the soup which went on to boil. More cleaning followed.
A donor arrived with big saucepans of vegetarian curry and rice, left over after a party. This was decanted, the pots washed and returned. Later another donor brought a huge box of rhubarb from their garden. The first clients filtered in at about 11.15. First up, a regular who discreetly emptied the contents of the sweet dishes from three of the tables into his rucksack and proceeded to eat some fairy cakes, followed by bread and butter. A father and son quietly entered and sat near the door. They were immediately brought soup. (Catriona, the manager later told me their home had been repossessed a week or so before and the young boy was doing his best to keep his father functioning). They ate everything and left as quietly as they had come in with packs of sandwiches, sliced pan and fruit in their bags.
Soon clients came thick and fast. They were mostly men, arriving singly or in pairs. Some obviously living rough, others looking down on their luck. Mostly they were quietly eating although conversations took up from time to time with groups. There were many nationalities. A mother and daughter I spoke to were Czech, two Latvian men asked if clothes were also available. Others had foreign accents but I didn’t intrude. A woman with a trolley bag asked for bananas. She filled up her bag with sliced pan, fruit and sandwiches, but didn’t sit down. Four volunteers served the tables, more doled out plates of food, or received the empties. Requests for milk or vegetarian, gluten free and rice free meals were cheerfully fulfilled. One man even asked for an ice cream and got it. Most plates came back empty. Volunteers I spoke to on the day included two handsome French students who study in LaRochelle, here for the summer to learn English; a recently retired man who was trying out volunteering for the first time; a young girl who told me she came every Monday and Wednesday with her father. There was a man from Birmingham also on his first day. Other regulars, Cork young people or blowins to the city, worked cheerfully cleaning, preparing food and washing up under the direction of Catriona. By 1.30 the place was shipshape again. I had seen in use the bain marie IQFA sponsored in 2010 and overheard troubleshooting of the cooker IQFA has agreed to replace this year. I had seen the willing work and camaraderie of up to twenty volunteers and learned of another team who come in evenings to prepare for the next day. I heard some of the stories of the diners from Catriona and also of the many links which Penny Dinners have in the community: Simon, Vincents Hostel and DayHospitals. I delivered four meals to a home for the elderly nearby. The phone rang constantly with offers of food or support. It seems to me that this charity is a catalyst providing a service to hungry poor but also functioning as a place for young people to contribute time, feel worthwhile and earn a square meal.