This Harvest, one billion people will be living with hunger. Catholic aid agency CAFOD warns the global financial crisis is pushing already poverty-stricken people over the edge.
As Harvest approaches, parishes and schools around the UK will be holding special events and collections to mark CAFOD’s annual Harvest Fast Day on 2nd October to help CAFOD continue to meet the growing demands in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Tony Sheen, CAFOD’s Diocesan Manager for Westminster, said: “Harvest is usually a time to celebrate food and the gifts of the land and reminds us of all the good things God provides. However, for many living in some of the poorest parts of the world there simply is no food. The global financial crisis, massive hikes in food prices and climate change have all intensified the problems for those living in poverty. For them, the effects of the financial crisis are a matter of life or death.
“CAFOD partners in Nairobi, Kenya, told us the story of Margaret. She lives with her seven children in Mathare slum. Two years ago Margaret had a decent job and home. Her family had enough to eat, not a lot, but enough. Then the factory she worked at shut down. The family now sleep side by side in one room. Margaret goes hungry so her children can eat. Her story is repeated time and time again throughout the world.”
Margaret said: “In 2007 prices were controlled, we could afford to buy food, it was not this madness of hiking prices everyday. Since 2008 prices have been going up uncontrollably. The maize flour is the worst. It was 50 shillings (43 pence) in 2007. Last year it was 75 shillings (65p) and now it is 95 shillings (82p) for a 2 kilogram packet.
“When you can’t provide for your family you become useless. I’ll walk any length of time to a cheaper market just to get something for my kids. I may get a small extra job like cooking at the Church or tutoring kids. When there’s no job and no food you’ll find me in the Church where I volunteer. It gives me peace and somewhere to go so my kids don’t see me sad.”
Pope Benedict XVI, in his social Encyclical ‘Caritas in Veritate’ published in July, said that it is an ethical imperative to ‘feed the hungry’.
Across its programmes, CAFOD partners are responding to this growing crisis by ensuring that the poorest and the most vulnerable are reached with life saving food. The aid agency is able to respond where the greatest needs lie through the generosity of Catholics in parishes in Westminster Diocese.
Tony said: “Despite the complexities of supporters’ lives and the demands on their incomes, it is humbling to know people are still willing to give their time and money. Harvest is also about sharing with those less fortunate and now people in the developing world need our support more than ever. The support from Westminster Diocese does make a huge difference. CAFOD is also asking rich country leaders to ensure people like Margaret are given more support in a crisis they did nothing to create.”
CAFOD holds its annual Harvest Fast Day on Friday 2nd October. The charity raised nearly £1.3m last year through Harvest Fast Day fundraising activities. The people of Westminster Diocese alone raised £168,000.