Transforming Lives

ca1This Christian Aid Week (10-16 May), people across the UK can help transform the lives of women like Loko.

Loko’s choice in life is simple: “If I can’t collect firewood, my children will die.”

Four times a week, in a remote corner of Ethiopia, Loko makes a back-breaking eight-hour trip to gather wood. It’s a task she dreads, but she steels herself to do it because if she doesn’t her children will starve.

She prays to God as she walks. “I ask him to change my life and lead us out of this,” she says.

Oxford-based intern Jonnie Walker recently returned from Ethiopia where he met women facing such hardships but also heard stories of change and optimism thanks to the support that Christian Aid partner HUNDEE is giving in these communities.

HUNDEE works with the community to identify the poorest of the poor. These are often women who have no community support, nor any livestock to generate income, yet have to provide for their children and therefore work tirelessly in order to survive.

Jonnie met a woman called Adi Abdura, who had been in a similar place to where Loko presently is. Adi’s life has changed dramatically over the last few years. Through our partners’ work, Adi received a cow and two goats from. These livestock produce milk for her children, provide an income through selling butter and importantly, as assets, they give Adi greater status within the community. She is respected and valued within her community.

Through workshops run by HUNDEE within the community, a dialogue has begun between men and women about the issues they face and about steps they could take towards a better, fairer society. With Adi’s voice, amongst other women’s’, now being heard, laws are being passed that will benefit women throughout the community. Child marriage, excessive drinking and traditional harmful practices such as FGM have been banned, meaning that some of the longstanding problems that have adversely affected women will not affect the future generations. Some of the constraints of poverty are being lifted.

Adi also joined a self-help group where she learns literacy skills and about the importance of saving. The group loans money to members so that they can start up businesses and through this Adi now trades sugar and tea within her village. She has even built her own shop. Her life has really improved. Yet there are still many women who do not yet have this story to tell.

Just £5 could give Loko a loan to start her own business buying and selling tea and coffee, freeing her from her desperate task and allowing her to spend more time caring for her family.

Loko says: “My hope for the future and for my children rests in God. I work day and night and I pray to Him that my children will have good, successful lives.”

From 10-16 May, churches the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland will come together to pray, campaign and raise money to improve the lives of people like Loko.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Christians to demonstrate how their faith motivates them to take action, to show love to our global neighbour and help those in need. As Christians we can take the message of good news out into the community. We can speak of the hope that Jesus brings to peoples’ lives, bringing light in the darkest situations. We can also show how living out Jesus’s commands can bring physical transformation though the love and generosity that we show to others.

In thinking ahead to Christian Aid Week, Jonnie said “For me it was just incredible to see the work of our partners in Ethiopia and to hear stories of tangible change and genuine hope for the future. I want to encourage everyone to get involved in Christian Aid week in whatever way they can, whether this is praying for Christian Aid’s work or helping raise money to fund our amazing partners around the world.”

For more information visit www.caweek.org.

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