THE Fr Raja Charity Shop in Schull closed its doors on Saturday January 28th, due to a lack of support.
Rosmarie Isenschmid, who had been running the charity shop for the last ten years, explained to The Southern Star the recent controversy regarding allegations that were made against Fr Raja – an Indian priest who inspired the setting up of the shop – may have had an effect.
It was alleged last year that Fr Raja had been held in custody in India for questioning regarding an incident involving the kidnapping of his bishop.
But Rosmarie claims: ‘The matter is now being handled by the church.’
With just two full-time volunteers and three part-time volunteers remaining, Rosmarie said: ‘We cannot continue because we don’t have enough helpers, so we have given our stock to four other charities in West Cork.’
She explained the origins of the shop, saying Fr Raja came to Schull with an Irish friend and a group of local people agreed to help him by collecting food and clothes, furniture, beds, mattresses, toys and household items.
‘For the first two years these goods were sent by container and transported by the Irish Navy.’ However, 15 years ago, they decided to open a charity shop in the Main Street of Schull.
Rosmarie said that since then the shop has helped with the purchase of land for an orphanage that Fr Raja established. ‘We contributed to the cost of turning the fields surrounding the orphanage into a vegetable garden and rice field.
The charity also provided the money to purchase three water pumps, bore two wells, install solar panels; as well as providing for the education, medication and nutrition of the 100 children attending the shelter,’ she pointed out.
Rosmarie said: ‘We are proud of our achievements, which helped to brighten up the lives of so many people.
The shelter, which is still being run by Fr Raja, is a home for street children, orphans, the elderly, those with special needs, and people with HIV.
‘It is like a big family,’ said Rosmarie, who returned from Indian on January 16th.
During her visit, she said she spoke with Fr Raja and he is of the opinion that the good work will go on.