Trocaire Lenten Campaign – Focus Diocese

Mahlet in blueThe Trocaire Lenten Campaign for 2015 will begin Ash Wednesday.  The Diocese of Waterford & Lismore is a ‘focus’ diocese this year, when the projects of Trocaire will be highlighted throughout the diocese, through Parishes, Church settings and schools.

Mary Dee, the Diocesan Assistant for Liturgy, was part of a Trocaire Mission to Ethiopia from November 3rd to 10th 2014.

 

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Meet Mahlet, pictured above & left, with Mary Dee.  Mahlet is a 13 year old. Her name means ‘life’ in her native language. There is a sad irony however, that despite her namesake, she comes from a place where life is unsustainable, where crops cannot grow and where water is scarce. Mahlet is a very happy sociable child and loves learning. She hopes to become a doctor………….

Her family have two small plots of land which they farm and Mahlet helps out by feeding the cows when she is not in school. Mahlet’s family depend solely on their crops for food to eat, and in order to make a living. They attempt to grow vegetables, cereals and grains. However, when the rains fail, Mahlet and her family really struggle. In recent years, because of climate change, it has become increasingly difficult for the family to survive.

Her family, along with fifty other households in Sebeya, will soon join an irrigation scheme that is being built this year by the Adigrat Diocesan Catholic Secretarial with support from Trocaire. When there is rain, their family have just one harvest a year, but with this new scheme, they are hopeful that they will have three!!

Mary was privileged to spend time with Mahlet and her family during the trip to Ethiopia.  More stories will follow as we get closer to the Lenten campaign.

Please click on Reflection on the Trocaire Ethiopian Trip

Please click on Trocaire Trip Report Week 4

Please click on Trip Report Week 3

Please click on Week 2 Report

Week 1  – My initial thoughts

Like many of us I suspect, I hear the phase ‘climate change’ bandied about a lot these days. I have to confess that up until a few short months ago it would not be the last thing I thought about before going to sleep at night nor the first thing on my mind when I woke. However a recent experience has ensured that ‘climate change’ is now something that I do think about.

In November I travelled to see projects supported by Trócaire in Ethiopia in advance of the Lenten campaign 2015. The Trócaire Lenten campaign this year is about the struggle of communities in some of the world’s poorest countries in the face of the challenges posed by climate change. Increasingly extreme and erratic weather patterns are destroying the lives and livelihoods of rural families and communities across the developing world and these communities are finding it ever more difficult to cope with this new reality.

Climate change is now one of the dominant causes of poverty in many of the communities where Trócaire works. In the last three years alone we have seen approximately 30 million people across Asia and Africa forced from their homes or facing starvation because of drought and flooding. And these numbers continue to rise. The poorest and most vulnerable communities in our world are struggling to cope with rising temperatures and increases in droughts, floods and storms.

They are paying the price for a problem they have not created, and for which they have least resources to cope.

In Africa alone the population at risk because of increased water scarcity is projected to be between 75-250 million by 2020 and 350-600 million by the 2050s. But it is not just the statistics around climate change that I think about. I think of the human faces of the crisis.

I travelled to one particular community in Ethiopia, to the village  & community of Sebeya. Sebeya is located in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia.  It has a hot and mild climate and has a population of over 10,000 people.  Trocaire has worked in this region since the famine of 1984 and today continues to work in partnership with the Adigrat Diocesan Catholic Secretariat (ADCS).

Sebeya is just 5km from the Eritrean border and was badly affected by the Ethio-Eritrean war.  Men from the village fought in the war, many were killed and many families fled.  A military presence remains in the area, with checkpoints still in operation.  The war with Eritrea has ended, but Sebeya is battling for its land once more, this time against the weather and the devastating impacts of climate change.

But Sebeya wasn’t always this dry.  People there remember a time when the mountain tops were green and covered in vegetation.  They are puzzled about why the rain has stopped.  What people there do not know is that they are experiencing the effects of climate change, the cause of which lies much closer to earth.  Greenhouse gas emissions from rich nations thousands of miles away have altered their rainfall patterns irreversibly.  It is a problem that they have no act or part in.  The people in Sebeya live a simple life; no car, no electricity, no meat, skinny cows that cannot produce milk and a diet that these days, consists only of wheat.

Here we were meeting with Mahlet – 13 years old.  (Mahlet is the little girl pictured on this year’s Trocaire Box).  Her name means ‘life’ in her native language.  There is a sad irony however, that despite her namesake, she comes from a place where life is unsustainable, where crops cannot grow and where water is scarce.  Mahlet is a very happy sociable child and loves learning.  She hopes to become a doctor when she grows up.

Her family have two small plots of land which they farm and Mahlet helps out by feeding the cows when she is not in school.  Mahlet’s family depend solely on their crops for food to eat, and in order to make a living.  They attempt to grow vegetables, cereals and grains.  However, when the rains fail, Mahlet and her family really struggle.  In recent years, because of climate change, it has become increasingly difficult for the family to survive.

Her family, along with fifty other households in Sebeya, will soon join an irrigation scheme that is being built this year by the Adigrat Diocesan Catholic Secretarial with support from Trocaire.  When there is rain, their family have just one harvest a year, but with this new scheme, they are hopeful that they will have three!!

Climate change is the greatest injustice of our time. The people who are doing the least to cause it are suffering the most. That is why this Lenten campaign is so important. With your support Trócaire is helping communities to improve their farming by introducing irrigation systems on their land to combat drought; helping farmers develop alternative farming methods to increase production; introducing small business and cooperative models for farmers to make the most of their land and livestock and develop new sources of income; providing food and emergency relief to communities during periods of extreme droughts; supporting communities to be better prepared and able to cope with the increasing frequency of both droughts and floods.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to have seen first-hand Trócaire’s work on our behalf in Ethiopia. It is important to be able to report back not only on the problems facing people there but the difference donations from people here at home are making.

Hunger and malnutrition in a world of plenty is an unacceptable and shameful reality of the 21st century. ​Some of the facts are shocking. A staggering 22,000 children die every day from poverty-related causes. An estimated 870 million people experience chronic under-nourishment. The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change is already responsible for over 150,000 deaths each year. This is through an increase in cases of diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition, predominantly in developing countries.

Let’s make this Lent the time to stand up and make sure that the biggest problem facing our world today is recognised and those most affected are given the support they need to avert disaster.  Your contribution towards this will be so welcome by Mahlet and her community.  Please do your very best with this year’s Trocaire Box.  Boxes are now available in your local Church.

To find out more about Trócaire’s Lenten campaign or to make a donation log on to trocaire.org/lent. ‘The Cry of the Earth’ is a Pastoral Reflection on Climate Change from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and to accompany this, Trócaire has developed ‘GLAS’, a pastoral resource: trocaire.org/parishes