Honiton's gift to Sierra Leone

PUBLISHED: 11:14 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 23:41 15 June 2010

A SLENDER-looking Father Joseph Shonibare returned to Honiton from his mission in Sierra Leone and received a gift of cash to help with his work in the poverty-stricken country.

A SLENDER-looking Father Joseph Shonibare returned to Honiton from his mission in Sierra Leone - and received a gift of cash to help with his work in the poverty-stricken country.The former Roman Catholic parish priest, who is an Augustinian monk, was last Wednesday presented with a cheque for £1,300 from the Friends of St Rita.The presentation took place at the home of Rosa Sennitt, of Balfour Close, and was witnessed by a large number of Father Joseph's supporters.After hearing concerns about his weight loss, Father Joseph said: "If you want to lose weight, come to Sierra Leone. It's guaranteed - and cholesterol-free!"On a more serious note, he told the Herald that tackling poverty was still his main concern.Lack of education and health care systems in Sierra Leone means more misery for those who are struggling to survive."A simple thing like a hernia can be a catastrophe for someone in Sierra Leone," he said."Many people suffer from those, but there is no NHS."A man came to me for help and I was able to pay for treatment. He was so, so grateful."Without that, he'd be sitting at home and his children wouldn't be going to school. The treatment cost just £30."Father Joseph has been working in the north-west of Sierra Leone for the past two years and says he expects to stay there for up to seven years.The Friends of St Rita say they had "such fun" raising money to aid Father Joseph's work.They enjoyed a luncheon, a bring-and-buy sale and a raffle. A pastel painting by Ian Gracewood netted over £200 towards the total raised.Handmade dolls have also been sold to raise cash.Father Joseph will return to Sierra Leone at the beginning of July after spending a month in Britain.He can look forward to a few breaks from his cholesterol-free diet, though - the Friends of St Rita say they will continue to send him parcels of treats.Chocolate will be included - now they know for sure that it doesn't melt en-route!

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