Parish Diary for this month ...
One of our overseas charities supported by our parish is Christian Aid. You can see the Christian Aid website by clicking here to view Christian's Aid Website.
Dermot and Jane Burns are our Christian Aid contact and parish link. They organise collection boxes, and a few Christiian Aid Fundraising events each year.
Christian Aid work through mission partners, and the mission partner that we are currently supporting are BIDDI, in Kenya.
BIDII programmes operate under four major themes; food security, HIV and health, water and environment and economic empowerment, but many of the programmes they run contain elements of each. Their vision statement is to have a community which is a master of its own destiny. Consequentially, most BIDII programmes are self perpetuating and sustaining; they can provide training for a farmer who can then provide training themselves; or they encourage a group to start a savings programme together so that they can provide for their own needs.
This is a report from a Christian Aid supporter who visited with BIDII staff in 2009 - we were able to see a conservation project of Mumandhi and hear reports from both groups about their activities. Although the groups are separate, many of their activities are quite similar. Both are savings and loans associations: all of their members contribute 20 Kenyan Shillings a week (roughly 25cent) to a kitty which can then be loaned out to a particular member or used to buy things – particularly goats. Both groups have assisted children with school fees, with a little help from BIDII, and provided shelter and furniture for orphans without a home. Every member of the groups was either a widow or a widower with a least two children to support. Mumandhi also runs a conservation project planting trees and providing people with seedlings. Martin Kisenga explained;
“When we conserve the environment we have rain. When we have rain
we don’t have hunger. We are helping the country to fight poverty.”
Each group also had a volunteer community health worker who has been provided with a motorbike by BIDII so that they can reach remote villages. It also gives the riders a chance to earn a living by using the bike as a taxi, or Boda-boda.
This Christmas time....
"Away in a manger no crib for a bed...." the words of this carol are no doubt familiar to many. They remind us of the time God came to earth in human form;a child born in an animal shelter because there was nowhere else to go, born into a family soon forced to flee to Egypt in fear of their lives.
Today there are still many infants born without a real home or place to stay, and many more families forced to flee to safety. 26 year old Sawsan arrived in northern Iraq heavily pregnant, and with three young childreb, having fled the conflict in Syria:
"I was very tired on the journey. It was very difficult. At times I fainted and they put water on me. The weather was very cold."
Not long after they arrived, Sawsan's son was born safely; but the family does not have a permanemt home and they are worried about what the winter will bring. "The way we live here is very difficult" says Rafat, Sawsan's husband, "Now winter willcome and it will be cold."
Sawsan's family are not the only ones affected by the conflict in Syria. Since it began in March 2011, the UNHCR estimates that more than 2 million peopke have fled from their homes in Syria for safety. For those living in tents in makeshift camps across Lebanon and Iraq, and for those displaced in Syria, winter brings with it fresh concerns. Temperatures have plummeted, with average winter temperatures between 5-10oC during the day.
Christian Aid's partners on the ground are working to respond to these needs. By supporting Present Aid you can help them bring warmth and comfort to people forced to leave everything behind. Just €15 could buy warm blankets to help families through the cold nights under canvas.
As Christmas approaches this year, please consider giving a gift which helps make life that bit brighter for someone living through the conflict, or in one of the world's poorest countries. As gift purchased through Present Aid support Christian Aid's fight against world poverty, and there are many ideas on line at www.presentaid.ie. From €6 for a mosquito net to keep a vulnerable child safe as they sleep, to an earthquake proof house to help a homeless family in a country like Haiti rebuild there lives, a Present Aid gift not only shows someone that you care about them but also helps transform the lives of people around the world.