Belfast Telegraph

Caring Edwina's mission of mercy

By John McGurk

Edwina Chambers’ heartwarming efforts to help rebuild the lives of people in war- and genocide-ravaged Rwanda have touched your hearts. For the big-hearted Ballymoney charity worker is the latest heat winner of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards competition.

Edwina, who runs the Ballymoney shop of Christian international aid charity Drop Inn Ministries, has made three trips to the central African country, torn apart by years of brutal murders and bloody violence.

The tireless south Armagh-born woman has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for widows and their children in

Rwanda. She even bought 250 goats and hundreds of other animals for them.

Now, Edwina is determined to fund-raise around £50,000 to provide a multi-purpose shelter, community centre, school and church in the bush settlement of Nyanza.

Said Edwina: “We really want to get these ‘craters’ a shelter before winter comes — give them a roof over their heads and a pair of shoes on their feet.

“Last time I was there, I met a wee girl who had been raped so many times. The marks, where she had been tied up, were still on her wrists and ankles.

“You can’t even imagine what she went through. She was left for dead in a mass grave and had to pull herself out, away from all of the dead bodies, with the flesh coming off them.

“We want to help people like that. We have raised £5,000 so far and we plan to have a Christmas appeal for them.

“Just think — you can buy a packet of seeds or a fruit tree for £1; a spade for £3 or a goat for just £15.

“I am hoping to go back to Rwanda in September. Hopefully, God willing, the shelter will be up before then.

“I am over the moon about this nomination. If I am fortunate enough to go all the way and win the car, we will put it up for auction, with the money going towards our Rwanda appeal.

“My old banger of a car will do me for another while!” she laughed.

Edwina, who is the fourth person to win a place in the semi-final of the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards, is due to feature on the UTV Life show this week — as will all of our heat winners.

If you know someone in Northern Ireland who you feel deserves to be recognised for their bravery, inspiration or selfless acts of help for others, then there is still time to nominate them using the form on this page. However, nominations will be closing soon.

A Sunday Life panel will choose the 40 nominees whose stories will feature in the paper. Due to huge volume of entries not all can be published.

Each week, we will feature four unsung heroes, with readers voting for the person who best represents the Spirit of Northern Ireland in 2008.

The phone lines are open for you to vote for your favourite nominee until midnight on Tuesday.

Every Sunday, we will reveal who topped the phone poll and then open the lines again for the next four nominees. The top ten nominees featured over these weeks then go forward to a semi-final, along with the ten most popular, as voted for by Sunday Life readers.

Out of these top 20 nominees, the public will be asked to vote for their final top ten. The Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards top ten will then appear at a fantastic final, hosted by UTV’s Julian Simmons and a top soap star, at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast on January 20.

A panel of judges will then choose the Flybe/Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Award winner, who will receive a Peugeot 107 car as their prize.

The person who nominated the winner will win a pair of Flybe flight tickets.

Belfast Telegraph

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