Joseph Kabiru writes:
During my recent visit to Kitui, I was profoundly surprised by the huge impact on people’s lives every single penny donated by CAFOD supporters makes. I felt really challenged when I reflected on my lifestyle as compared to how communities affected by drought had made the best out of a very bad situation.
East Africa Crisis: how your money has helped>>
They say charity begins at home, but after travelling nearly 300 miles in various parts of Kitui in eastern Kenya, I realised just how much it takes to change people’s lives. For example, for just under £70 , Naomi Mwangangi, a widow and a mother of four, was able change the life of her family. And she still had spare change to contribute to a Widows Association where she is Vice-Chairperson.
“The money I got from CAFOD made a real difference in my life and those of my children,” Naomi told me. “I used most of the money to pay school fees for my children and the rest to buy food and a goat. The support I got has enabled me to invest in the future of my children by ensuring they get a good education.“
Even in the best of times, access to water points is a major problem. It is for that reason that the construction of earth-dams was a priority in the CAFOD response to the drought.
We helped construct the Ikitula earth-dam in the Kyatune area and the impact is clear for Faith Syongu Muimi and her family. Before, she and her husband Jacob Mwanzia used to spend at least three days a week fetching water. It used to take Faith up to eleven hours per day to fetch water from the nearest water points to her home.
Stepping off the plane in Monrovia this week was like stepping up to a wall of heat, and one of the first things on my mind was water. Where can I get bottled water from? Is the tap water safe to drink? Dumping my bags and skipping to the loo, I wondered if I would be able to wash my hands.
I’m not the only person thinking about water in Liberia. One of the very first things I notice here are the huge billboards that are dotted across the urban and rural landscapes. From downtown Monrovia, to the villages we passed in Bong County they display messages about the importance of boiling your water and washing your hands.
Give to CAFOD’s water appeal >>
Filed under CAFOD, Liberia
Give to our ongoing emergency work>>
I never cry when hearing the many stories community members share. This is not because I don’t understand or feel the acute suffering of the people I meet, but because they show such bravery by sitting with me and telling me there stories. I say to myself, ”If you cry you can’t come back,” and I always want to come back.
Leaving Haiti was difficult, it was like letting go of this warm, safe hand that had taken me on a journey, and shown me that everyday humanity had not died when so many people did.
Give to our ongoing emergency work >>
Once outside Port au Prince’s airport and the tangled mess of luggage and tired passengers, the Haitian sun beats down as I walk along the parade, avoiding the hesitant touting of local taxi drivers. Then I see the driver Joseph. He’s 28 with a beaming smile.
I notice he doesn’t have modern US import pop music on his car radio but instead talk programmes. They discuss aid agency presence in Haiti and compensation from the UN for the cholera outbreak. The music in between the chat is purely Haitian: songs calling for solidarity, and declaring undying love for their country.
Amaro Silveiro dos Santos
When you meet Amaro Silveiro dos Santos, the first thing that strikes you is his enthusiasm for his work. Amaro works for the the Kdadalak Sulimutuk Institute (KSI), an organisation which promotes conflict prevention and transformation in two districts in East Timor, Ermera and Betano.
KSI first worked with the communities in Punilale around the time of Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia in 1999. Following independence, former plantation owners returned to lay claim to large areas of land in Ermera which they had been allocated under the Portuguese colonial system. This land included the land on which Amaro’s community lived.
With our and KSI’s support, the local community members developed a local agricultural union, introduced training on cooperatives and established a dispute resolution programme. These newfound skills were crucial to the community’s struggle to gain official legal recognition of their ownership of the land they have lived and worked on for decades, which they recently achieved – a huge victory for the community. Now, in charge of their homes and livelihoods, KSI and CAFOD are working to help the communities in other ways.