Across Scotland during Christian Aid Week thousands of Christian Aid supporters will be knocking on doors, delivering red envelopes to their next-door neighbours and hope to their global neighbours. Many more will walk, run and bake, hold coffee mornings, ‘Big Brekkies’ and book sales. In Scotland alone, over a 1,000 churches of all denominations will take part. The money they raise will fund partnerships and projects that help lift people out of poverty, ensuring them a brighter future.
Although the work of Christian Aid goes on all year long, the week is also an opportunity for supporters and advocates to highlight the charity’s work and the vision that drives us.
Christian Aid’s core purpose and vision is a world free from poverty. It is a goal that has guided the organisation since its inception over 70 years ago and one that continues to drive forward and underpin all it does.
This year Christian Aid week’s theme is “Love every neighbour”, a foundational concept for the charity and a guiding principle.
Christian Aid was founded in 1945 as a response from Christians seeking to offer relief and reconciliation in post-war Europe to those displaced by violence. It began by reaching out to neighbours and that principle continues today.
This year’s appeal highlights our long-standing work in Bangladesh; supporting projects that work towards creating deep and lasting change in socially and economically excluded communities. The country’s location, geography, large rivers and monsoon climate make it incredibly vulnerable to natural disasters, including floods and cyclones.
Bangladesh is home to 160 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries on earth, with four-fifths living on less than £1.30 a day.
Climate change is causing catastrophic and consistent flooding, forcing people to migrate inland and look for ways to survive that do not depend on farming. The poorest, who have nowhere to go, are forced to exist on small temporary islands called Chars, created by the very flooding that has displaced them.
It is a dangerous, precarious place to be. Despite the enormity of these problems Christian Aid believes that there are practical solutions.
Our partner in Bangladesh, GUK, is supporting families suffering with the consequences of annual floods, which destroy their home, belongings and lives, leaving them with nothing.
A Christian Aid Home Safety Package (£250) provides an earth plinth, raising a home 6-8ft above water, creating a safe place for a family to rebuild their home and safely keep livestock. The package also includes a goat, seeds and a wormery, all of which will provide a long-term income.
Our neighbours across the world need us to care with a genuine neighbourliness, to see our common fragility and respond with compassion. Their struggles are unrelenting–sustained by unfair economic systems that benefit the developed world at their expense, stemming from climate change mainly caused by our reliance on fossil fuels.
Christian Aid builds partnerships across our global neighbourhood, working to build solid foundations and safe places where people can flourish. Mere weeks after the important resolutions at the COP 21 Climate Change summit, Scotland saw flooding devastate parts of Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and Ballater – it was devastating, but we, here, have the meansto rebuild. Imagine our neighbours in vulnerable communities around the world who struggle against a consistent onslaught and do not have structured resilience or the resources to respond over and over again.
As a consequence of increased catastrophic flooding, they never truly feel safe or have a place to call home. This Christian Aid Week, when your neighbour calls on you, remember that they represent brothers and sisters around the world. Our response, through money in a red envelope or commitment to fair trade and more sustainable choices, can help change the long-standing vision of Christian Aid and those who share a desire for a world free from poverty into a reality.
• Sally Foster-Fulton is head of Christian Aid Scotland
• Christian Aid Week (to 21 May 2016, www.caweek.org)