In past months, there have been whispers of bishops donning football jerseys, wielding fishing nets, walking around holding potties and operating antique vehicles from tractors to bicycles, all in the name of highlighting and combating gross injustices in the developing world. Through these unusual acts, the bishops are reminding us that as the Church we cannot forget those whom society, global or local, deems unimportant. Indeed, we are called to serve them.
The focus on nets is symbolic of the need for lifesaving mosquito nets in malaria zones. The emphasis on potties highlights the lack of dignity that people in developing countries face without access to proper sanitation. Indeed, one third of the world’s population does not have access to such a basic need. And the focus on antique vehicles is an act of solidarity with farming and rural communities in developing countries who are completely dependent on small plots of land which may or may not produce adequate harvests to feed their families.
The response to these initiatives by church communities has been and continues to be remarkable. Church of Ireland people have joined together in creative ways to raise funds for vulnerable children in Swaziland, subsistence farmers in Rwanda and families exposed to the threat of malaria in Nigeria. Others are now responding to educational needs of Maasai girls in Kenya, supporting the provision of medical assistance for pregnant women with HIV/AIDS in Malawi and getting behind the training and support for farmers’ milk cooperatives in Haiti. People across dioceses have been united in common purpose and in solidarity with the poorest of the poor of this world.
The difference that these extravagant yet simple acts of kindness and generosity make are summed up in a child being born free from HIV, a family avoiding illness and death from mosquito bites, a farmer providing security and therefore health and education for her family and a child from a poverty ridden background receiving quality care and education at school. Even if a handful of people’s lives were affected so dramatically, the efforts of parishes and dioceses would be worth it. The good news is that it is not one but thousands of children, thousands of farmers, thousands of women who are being supported through the care of Church of Ireland people supporting the Bishops’ Appeal.
Bishops’ Appeal would like to thank the bishops and the Dioceses for keeping justice issues at the heart of the Church’s activities. A remarkable number of projects were funded in 2012 and we look forward to serving the needs of those around the world who live in a constant state of lack in the year to come.
The vintage vehicles, potties and fishing nets are all potent symbols of our collective remembering of the other, which leads us to collective response. May 2013 be another powerful year of action!