Tearfund is calling on Big Church Day Out festival-goers to provide a million meals for people facing extreme hunger and help them to go on to lead secure and fulfilled lives.
The annual music festival brings together more than 20,000 Christians from across the world for one of the biggest events on the Church calendar, featuring contemporary Christian bands and entertainment for the whole family.
Tearfund continues to work to relieve the suffering of more than 20 million people in the Sahel region in Africa and is raising funds for this through its Give Like Jesus campaign. Political instability, the impact of a changing climate and recurring droughts have resulted in a region suffering food insecurity and malnutrition.
In Chad, one of the world’s poorest countries, seasonal rains have failed and consequently farming has been less fruitful in the last year. And when crops fail, families have nothing to fall back on. Another country in the region, Ethiopia, has been affected by the worst drought in 50 years while recent erratic rains and El Niño have resulted in two failed harvests and 10.2 million people in need of emergency food assistance.
Tearfund Ambassador and award-winning chocolatier and pâtissier Will Torrent visited Ethiopia in April to see Tearfund’s work responding to the crisis. The international charity is working with Ethiopian Church-based partners and supports more than a million Ethiopians through its self-help groups programme.
These self-help groups are one of several interventions implemented by Tearfund to help mitigate against the ongoing hunger crisis. In Chad, for example, the range of interventions include market gardening, seed provision, irrigation schemes and food aid.
During his visit to Ethiopia, Will witnessed first-hand the impact of self-help groups in helping people prepare and cope with the often complex effects of disasters, such as by securing an income through setting up a small business.
At Big Church Day Out on Saturday 28th May, Mr Torrent will talk about his trip to Ethiopia and encourage support for Tearfund’s Give Like Jesus campaign. He will also give a cooking demonstration making crêpes with teff – a gluten free flour that is a staple ingredient in Ethiopia.
“It was incredible to see how Tearfund works through local churches to unlock people’s potential and in doing so, helps them discover new ways to help themselves,” said Mr Torrent. “The self help groups in particular are clearly having a very positive impact on communities in Ethiopia.”
Amarech, mother of seven, facilitates one of the self help groups Mr Torrent visited in Ethiopia. Prior to joining a self-help group, her family’s life was incredibly difficult. Her husband left to work as a migrant worker in another country, leaving her to raise her children alone. The region’s erratic weather patterns resulted in desperate times for her family.
“We were in darkness. Our lives were difficult and we borrowed from lenders at high rates when we faced emergencies,” she said. “But now, with the self help group, we know how to better manage our resources – seed, grain and money. We save for difficult days.”
Tearfund is appealing for funds to help release the poverty-fighting potential of individuals, through a network of local partners and churches.
“Sahel is facing one of the worst droughts and hunger crises of our generation and Tearfund recognises the need to tackle the problem on a broad front,” said Tearfund CEO, Nigel Harris. “Interventions in the region include long-term support for livelihoods, farming and self-help groups as well as water and sanitation. Emergency food aid is also critical at this time, as it is important to bring people back from the brink of starvation while helping to strengthen their resilience against future disasters.
“We are grateful to our thousands of generous supporters, and would welcome as many people as possible to join in and help those facing extreme hunger.”
Every £5 pledged at Big Church Day Out will be matched for a period of 12 months.
To support and find out more about Tearfund’s Give Like Jesus campaign, visit: www.tearfund.org/disastersappeal
For more information and tickets for Big Church Day Out please go to www.bigchurchdayout.com
Picture: Will Torrent examining teff flour, Kerikicho area, Angacha. (Will Boase/Tearfund).