A Lancaster woman has received a top award in recognition of her services to the children of Madagascar.
Irenee Rajaona-Horne was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National – which is similar to an MBE or OBE – for her work in the country.
The ceremony took place in Madagascar in one of the many schools built with funding from Money for Madagascar (MfM), a charity which is working to improve lives and protect the precious environment in Madagascar.
The ceremony was attended by all local dignitaries as well as a guard of honour.
For the past 18 years Irenee, 42, has worked tirelessly to help improve the lives of vulnerable and destitute children in Madagascar.
During her 10 years as a Quaker Volunteer at Akany Avoko Children’s Centre (1998-2008), Irenee worked directly with destitute children as well as helping to raise vital funds to enable the centre to continue its work.
Located in the Madagascar’s capital city Antananrivo, Akany Avoko is a flagship children’s centre which offers a refuge for children of all ages, from babies to young adults, all of whom would otherwise have nowhere to go.
All the children placed there have been abandoned, orphaned, made homeless or suffered extreme poverty or abuse.
The centre provides them with food, education, healthcare and a safe nurturing home environment until they reach adulthood or are able to rejoin their families.
Akany Avoko also cares passionately about protecting the environment to ensure their children’s future.
Since her return to Lancaster in 2008 Irenee has worked for Money for Madagascar, initially as their development officer and now as their director.
In 2015 the MfM office moved from Wales to Lancaster and is now based in Langthwaite House.
A legacy enabled the hiring of two additional part-time staff and Irenee was promoted to being the director.
In her eight years working for MfM, Irenee has ensured that people in the UK continue to support the wonderful work of Akany Avoko as well as MfM’s other street children projects.
She has forged links between Akany Avoko and Lancaster’s Millennium Choir, as well as Lancaster’s girls’ and boys’ grammar schools.
She has also been instrumental in developing the innovative ‘Education for Life’ Programme with our Malagasy partner organisations.
The programme is working to tackle the main obstacles which prevent Malagasy children accessing a decent education and achieving their full potential.
Irenee grew up in Langthwaite just outside Lancaster.
She attended Quernmore Primary School and Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School.