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Ethel Normoyle (1944 - )

The Order of the Baobab in

Ethel Normoyle (1944 - ) Awarded for:
Her excellent service to society, caring for the vulnerable and poor members of her community.

Profile of Ethel Normoyle

Ethel Normoyle was born on 8 August 1944 in Ireland. She is an accomplished care giver with an impeccable background of helping vulnerable and poor people.

Sister Normoyle runs the Missionvale Care Centre with the help of volunteers, caring for orphans and abandoned children.

A member of the Little Company of Mary, she came to Missionvale in the Eastern Cape in 1988 to share her love and compassion for the poor. Determined to pursue this noble course, she set up a school and basic clinic under a tree, which has since resulted in a fully integrated community centre dedicated to the fight against poverty and HIV and AIDS.

In the same year, a group of concerned business leaders visited the area and assisted with the building of three small rooms for the school and clinic. Known as the Missionvale Care Centre, it includes pre-primary and primary schools that provide education, hope and safe playgrounds for some 60 children, many of whom are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. This centre is also home to about 500 orphans and vulnerable children.

She also established a nutrition centre for 650 heads of impoverished families, with the majority being those infected or affected by the HIV pandemic. Sister Ethel is ranked among those who have translated the fight against HIV and AIDS into practical action.

In this context, the Missionvale Care Centre has started a therapy programme on HIV and AIDS, through which they stimulate the immune systems of patients. Having put in place support groups for those infected and affected by the pandemic, the centre also has a team of qualified home-based care givers who visit patients to provide support, counselling and referrals to public clinics or hospitals.

Spreading the reach of her compassion, Sister Ethel used the centre to establish a clothing warehouse to support the destitute and shack-fire victims. She was instrumental in inculcating the spirit of vuk’uzenzele among residents of Missionvale through self-help projects such as the community garden, and carpentry and adult basic education and training classes. These initiatives continue to empower many residents and instil in them a sense of pride and optimism about a better future.

Sister Ethel introduced a system at the centre that helps people who qualify for social grants from the State to access such benefits. To this effect, the centre provides transport for the needy to the relevant offices and helps with the completing of application forms. The social auxiliary workers who perform these tasks work closely with the home-based care givers in referring qualifying people to relevant departments.

For many years, Sister Ethel has continued to lobby support from other organisations to help meet the objectives of the centre. Each Christmas 5 000 children receive gifts that make them feel the warmth of love during the festive season.

With the help of more than 180 overseas volunteers, the Missionvale Care Centre has built a resource centre, which houses all the health initiatives, with plans underway to incorporate a day hospice. There are plans to extend the skills training unit of the centre to house the growing carpentry section.

In 1996, she followed in the footsteps of former President Nelson Mandela as a recipient of the Tipperary Peace Award in Ireland. In 2008, Sister Ethel was invited as an Eminent Person to the State of the Nation Address in Parliament.

Sister Ethel Mornoyle could have chosen a quiet life of prayer in a convent but she chose to move past prayer into practical ways of service to God.