“Last November, a number of diocesan personnel chose to leave the comforts of home behind and embark on the now annual church mission trip with Trócaire. The chosen country for this year’s trip was Kenya as it will be the focus of the 2016 Lenten campaign. Throughout the week, the group witnessed just a small flavour of the tremendous work carried out by Trócaire on behalf of the Irish people.
The nine delegates who made the journey included Fr. Tom Brady and Ms. Maura Garrihy – Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and Ms Siobhán Bradley – Archdiocese of Tuam .
“The moment we set foot on Kenyan soil, and reached the slum areas of Nairiobi, the stark statistic that 1 in 9 people in our world are hungry and the world’s poor struggle to get their hands on basic natural resources like land and water really and truly came to life. We were struck by the most unimaginable poverty. For us, it was a real shock to the senses. Poverty amongst the poorest of the poor has a real smell and a real face. It exists on a very large scale. For many there it looks like no shoes, no access to support, corruption in its leaders and institutions, HIV, filthy water, no access to education, and much, much more.
Choosing not to allow the magnitude and scale of these problems to be a deterrant, Trócaire -on behalf of the Irish church, works to empower the local people so that they can determine a better future for themselves. Working on the ground through local partners, trocaire with your help fights the root causes of poverty. We saw for ourselves that their work can truly transform lives with the help of your support.
One very effective programme we visited was the Love and Hope Centre in Nakura (about 3 hours outside Nairiobi) currently being run by Sr. Patricia Speight and her team. This centre works to restore the dignity and help to ease the suffering of those affected by Hiv and Aids within that slum area. We met and heard the stories of some of the people availing of this life saving service. One lady we had the privilege of meeting was a young mother of three, named Mary. Mary’s home was basic to say the least, and probably the size of an average bathroom. What stays with me about our visit to Mary’s home, was not it’s size but how she manages to survive as a young paralysed mother of three living with hiv. When Mary learnt of her diagnosis with HIV, she felt that she could not cope. Her family disowned her, her partner abandoned her. Feeling like she could no longer provide a future for her children and feeling like she had no hope she choose to attempt to end her own life. It was because of this attempt that she was left paralysed which obviously presented itself with a whole new set of challenges for Mary and her children. At this point though thankfully, through the intervention of the love and hope centre, Mary was offered the very practical and personal support that she needed to find hope once again. Mary was able to choose life and live with a new found dignity. “Thank you Trócaire for not forgetting about me” were her bidding words to us.
Another project we visited involved us visiting the family chosen as the focus of this year’s Lenten campaign. Here we travelled to Tharaka Nithi – a rural village two hours outside Nairobi where we met Teresina, another young mother of five. The security that once came with farming life has abandoned rural villages like hers taking the people with it. Teresina’s husband Julius, has had to move permanently to live and work on a large commercial farm three hours away. Migrating was the only possible way to put the last of their five children through school. Their story echoes the lives of so many in this rural village as up to 80% of families in this region do not have enough food. It was here in Teresina’s community that we saw the stark and cold reality of poverty at its greatest as we met with her own children living in huts the size of our toolsheds, no windows, no electricity, a door made up of cardboard boxes, and a toilet that was essentially a hole in the ground.
Through the support of Trocaire, farming families like Teresina’s are being equipped with the knowledge and skills to improve their resilience against adverse effects of climate change. Teresina and other farmers within the locality have been educated on the need to grow drought resistant crops and use modern method of farming. Teresina also finds support from a local women’s group established by Trocaire which helps each member save money and cultivate each other’s land.
Last year this diocese donated 238, 841 Tuam (131,065) Euros to Trócaire during Lent, which was incredibly generous. Because of this generosity, and the generosity of the Irish people across the length and breadth of Ireland, Trócaire was able to reach and change the lives of not only Mary and Teresina but over 2.4 million people most in need across the world. Trócaire’s work is to stand beside these vulnerable and marginalised communities and support them to have a better life.
This Lent, during the year of Mercy, you might have noticed, the Trócaire box was very different to previous years, because it is covered with pictures of people just like you, who do so much to support Trócaire’s work each year. Featuring them on this year’s box is a recognition and a celebration of ordinary people like you and I who do ordinary things in a very extra ordinary way in the pursuit of a more equal world. Sometimes it is easy to look at the scale of global poverty and think ‘what can I do?’ This year the Trócaire box is dedicated to the thousands of people across Ireland who say “I’ll do what I can”.
By continuing to support Trocaire, we are not just giving, we are joining the fight for a justice, and making Christ truly present in our world. Thank you again for your support. It is getting to those who need it and it is changing lives.
And as we continue to journey through this year of Mercy (Trocar in Irish) let us all dedicate ourselves ever more intently to #jointhefightforjustice” – Siobhán Bradley
For more information on Trócaire’s great work, please check out http://www.trocaire.org