Our blog will be regularly featuring inspirational individuals who are making a difference to society. We wanted to start off with Maureen Forrest, a woman who we are proud to be connected with.
Maureen Forrest – Honorary Director of The Hope Foundation
Maureen is the founder of The Hope Foundation. She is the archetype of altruism and has dedicated her life to making life easier for other across the world.
Maureen comes from a family of twelve and it is clear that this is where her inclination to care and share came from. Her inspiration to help and serve the less fortunate came when a medical missionary nun and an Aer Ligus Stewardess visited her school. Her very first mission was to Somalia, where she spent six weeks in feeding camp. It was there that she caught the first glimpses of the ravages of poverty.
Work in Africa and India
From Somalia, she journeyed to Swaziland and Mozambique, following the devastating clone in 1984. There, she worked in refugee camps, lending her assistance in the provision of water, food and sanitation to victims of the disaster.
During the 1990s, she again found herself in Somalia. This time it was more intense and civil strife and starvation were rampant.
In 1993 Maureen had a life changing meeting with Mother Terease. The meeting evoked within her a new passion, and her desire to help others was further fuelled by Mother Teresa’s words,
“Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Maureen’s humanitarian journey later took her to India. She was horrified at scale of poverty in Calcutta and volunteered her services to an Irish organisation based in the city. While there she helped to set up schools in slums as she discovered that education was the key to breaking the chain of poverty.
Following this, Maureen working in emergency relief, she had an epiphany and realised that she preferred the continuity on development work because it was easier to track children’s progress.
The Gift of Hope
In 1999, she founded The Hope Foundation in Cork in order to help and support the street and slum children. Since its inception HOPE has reached out to more than 30,000 children through education schemes and more than 200,000 individuals through its community health care programme.
Under Maureen’s leadership HOPE has grown from a small organisation of 8 projects and 24 staff, to 64 project and 776 members of staff. Maureen has also been instrumental in establishing branches of HOPE in the UK, Germany, India and the USA.
This humanitarian stalwart continues to work tirelessly on a voluntary, unsalaried basis whilst encouraging others to the be the change they want to see in the world.
Amazing lady isn’t she?! If you think so too we would love you to share Maureen’s story with your networks.