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JENNY ADAMS: Christian Aid working hard for people in poverty

By Jenny Adams

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I’d like to share the stories of Janet and Jessica, neighbours of ours.

Jenny Adams
Jenny Adams

Like 70 per cent of women in rural Zimbabwe, Jessica Mwedzi relies on farming to earn a living and provide for her family - six children and her husband Phanuel, who isn’t well.

Drought has become common in Zimbabwe. Jessica said: “My children crave a decent meal, but I can’t provide. We often go to bed on an empty stomach. It pains me to send them to bed hungry.”

No matter how capable Jessica is there’s a lot beyond her control.

On top of the climate emergency and Covid-19 pandemic, Jessica and her family will be affected by war in Ukraine 7000 miles away. Without fertiliser, wheat and cooking oil from Ukraine and Russia, food prices are rising, affecting vulnerable families everywhere.

But there is hope when people work in partnership.

Janet Zirugo (70) also lives in a village in Zimbabwe, a mother of 10, with 28 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Janet works her land as the sole provider for her family’s children.

Janet has also faced terrible times. She recalled: “One year, there was so little food. Rains had not fallen. We ate things which we wouldn’t eat in normal times.”

Through community organisations, Janet has received drought-resistant seeds and training in techniques for farming dry land. She now has a multi-coloured garden, including groundnuts, wild fruit, and corn.

She’s also built a storeroom for her harvest, bringing resilience for future droughts – which will keep coming, as the global climate changes.

I know the stories of Jessica and Janet through Christian Aid, who work in partnership with local organisations. Together they empower vulnerable communities to prepare for, and adapt to, the harsh and changing climate.

Christian Aid also work in partnership with 41 churches in Britain and Ireland, connecting us to people living in poverty, especially during Christian Aid Week (May 15-21). Through hearing people’s stories we learn to tackle the root causes of poverty.

There are many stories of climate change causing devastation. Yet the damage affects people who have done least to cause the climate crisis, so we hear voices calling for justice.

The stories are also of powerful love.

Most faith traditions invite us to love our neighbours. There are plenty folk who need our help across Moray and Europe right now – I hope we find practical expressions of love for all of them.

Our neighbours also include people like Janet and Jessica. Love for them needs us to listen to what they need.

That includes money to support community programmes, as they adapt to climate change.

It also includes amplifying their calls for funds to pay for the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. That responsibility sits with us, in a country which has profited from fossil-fuel based wealth, and where our political leaders need our encouragement to act.

Can we give what we can to show practical love to others? Can we find the courage to show love through justice too?

n Jenny is minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Church of Scotland. She is doing a 200k in May walking/running challenge for Christian Aid, see www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jenny-Adams-CAW22 to donate.

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