Saturday, October 02, 2010

Fruits of Justice - Bishop of St ALbans Harvest Appeal

This year as a diocese we are being encouraged to support Tear Fund's work in Uganda by raising money for the Church of England's 'Climate Justice Fund.'

What do we know about Uganda?

Uganda map

Approximately 70% of Ugandans earn their living from farming. Until a few years ago, the predictable rainy seasons provided Uganda's farmers with two good harvests of staple foods. But climate change has hit them hard, bringing hunger and malnutrition - particularly in eastern and northern parts.

In the Teso region of eastern Uganda, the floods in 2007 killed 20,000 people and wiped out crops. Poor rains in 2008 and then drought in 2009 meant thousands of people had to survive on food aid and wild fruits and leaves.

Uganda - small map

Uganda is among the world's 50 poorest countries; the country has one of the lowest life expectancies at just 43. 30% of Uganda's 30 million people live on less than $1 per day. A significant proportion of child deaths are due to malnutrition...

The statistics are one thing, but the stories of the people of Uganda are quite another. I was moved by Winnie's story...

Winnie's family lost everything when floods hit eastern Uganda in 2007. For months, the family survived on food aid and wild leaves. Winnie (now 5) and her sister Merab (7) were often sick. Then drought set in.

'It was very hard', says Winnie's foster dad Stanley. 'I felt terrible that I could not feed my wife and children. Merab has sickle cell anaemia and the lack of food made it worse. He joints were swollen and she was in terrible pain.'

'I prayed to God that he would give us the strength to get through. And God answered my prayers. He brought the Church to us.'

With help from the Anglican Church of Uganda's development team, Stanley and his neighbours in Odort parish, Katakwi District, have set up a farming group. They've received tools, equipment and training to grow drought-resistant crops such as watermelons and sunflowers. Stanley (32), the group chairman, has also been given a kick-start with poultry farming - and he now has 210 chickens in the small yard of his self-built home!

'We have benefited a lot' he said with a smile from ear to ear. 'The girls and our two younger sons are all able to eat three times a day. It has been two months since Merab was sick. Merab and Winnie are able to go to school.'

Stanley Sunflower
Merab Chickens

Half the world's population lives in desperate poverty on less than $1 a day. Stanley is one of them. For basic survival, and nothing else, Ugandan farmers need to earn 1 million Ugandan shillings a year (£320). Last year, Stanley earned just 600,000 shillings (£192) - from a small harvest of watermelons and from finding additional work as a brick-maker.

Now, Stanley's watermelons and sunflowers are established, so the harvests should provide a much larger income - as long as the rains come. And his 200 chickens act as insurance for a non-rainy day.

Please give generously to this appeal. £10 will buy enough drought resistant seed for one family for one year. Please give as generously as you can via the JustGiving site.

No comments: