A children’s book penned by a former a Chief Executive of Fermanagh District Council has been inspired by the wonderful imagination of her four-year-old granddaughter.
Aideen McGinley’s new book, ‘The Secret of the Pooja Bears’, aims to raise money for two charities, The Aisling Centre locally, and Habitat for Humanity, on an international scale.
A member of the Board of Directors for the Aisling Centre and a volunteer with Habitat, the mother of three and grandmother to seven is hoping her book inspires hope and positive thinking not just for children and their families but anyone paying attention to what’s really important in their daily lives.
Following a trip to India earlier this year with Habitat for Humanity she felt the need to do more to raise money for the charity, as well as support the vital work of the Aisling Centre.
Her vision is that the book will provide a fundraising outlet for the charities on an ongoing basis, with 100 per cent of proceeds from each sale going to the Aisling Centre and Habitat.
Speaking to the Impartial Reporter this week about the inspiration behind the book, she explained that it was her four-year-old granddaughter, Lucia, who opened her eyes to the magic of the bears, hidden in the floorboards of St. Michael’s Church in Enniskillen.
These bears have become the basis of the two stories told in the book, which includes pictures of St Michael’s Church and also features all of Mrs. McGinley’s grandchildren.
“We were just walking along in the church and something caught my eye,” explained Mrs. McGinley, “I said to Lucia: ‘What is that?’ and she replied: ‘It’s a bear, nana’.”
It was only when she truly looked at the knots in the floorboards that Mrs. McGinley was able to make out the eyes and nose of a bear, just as her granddaughter had.
“We have found 241 bears in the knots of the church floorboards,” said Mrs. McGinley, “Children’s imaginations are an incredible thing. I have shown the pictures from the floorboards to so many people since. It is interesting that the older the person is, the harder it is for them to find these bears. Children find them almost instantly. That is the magic of a child’s imagination. As we get older we look at the world in such a literal way. We lose that ability to imagine like a child. I hope this book will encourage people to see what is right in front of them.”
According to Mrs, McGinley, ‘The Secret of the Pooja Bears’, will be “the gift that keeps on giving”.
It tells the tale of a very special family of bears who live in a very special place in St Michael’s Church.
Named the Pooja bears, they are dedicated to the children of Bwanna in New Delhi - Pooja being the Sanskrit for ‘prayer’. 
Whilst the main aim of the book is to raise money for the two charities, it is also hoped it will also provide a special platform for children and their families to enjoy time together at the end of each day and share their own experiences and stories through the ‘Bears Hugging game’ included in the book.
“During my busy working life it was a special time at the end of a day with my children to share our stories together,” said Mrs. McGinley,  “It is even more difficult in the digital world we now live in to carve out that time together. When my granddaughter Lucia introduced me to the Pooja bears my eyes were truly opened. 
“I want others to find out the secret that all is not as it seems. So we should all open our eyes and our hearts and share a sense of hope for what is possible.”
According to Mrs. McGinley, the support she has received over the course of the book coming to fruition has been entirely overwhelming.
She has paid particular tribute to her family, Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, Michael Brown who provided all the photography for the book, Jenny Williams from Habitat, Bridie from the Aisling Centre and Sheila Gilroy Collins who was responsible for the overall design of the book.
“I am so grateful to everyone for their support,” said Mrs. McGinley, “So many people have been coming in behind it.
“The bears have come to life!”
The book will be officially launched on Saturday, December 9 at the Cathedral Hall from 11.30am to 1.30pm.
In the meantime, however, anyone wishing to purchase ‘The Secret of the Pooja Bears’ can find copies at St. Michael’s Church, Enniskillen, the Aisling Centre and online on Amazon. 
An E-version of the book is also available.