The appeal emphasises the long-term challenges for good sustainable development, with a particular focus on the need to put gender justice and the prevention of gender-based violence at the heart of sustainable development in fragile states.
Launching the Appeal, Rev. Dr. Katherine Meyer, convener of the Church’s World Development Committee, said, “Through the annual WDA, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland gives support to some of the best development work being done anywhere, and being done in the name of Christ.
“Over many years - in partnership with Tearfund and Christian Aid, who support good development work in some of the world’s poorest communities - the Appeal has raised millions of pounds through congregations across Ireland in support of sustainable development work.
“The 2017 Appeal will highlight partners who are working in the dangerous and difficult context of the DRC. Here they are addressing issues of gender justice as an important foundation for the peacebuilding and community development initiatives needed at every level of their troubled and fragile society.
“One of these partners is Action Entraide, whose work enables those who have been most deeply scarred by poverty and violence to take new initiatives. It also helps them to participate fully in the building of a new and more safe and stable society,” Dr Meyer said.
The title of the Appeal, ‘A Beautiful Idea’, was first used by a Congolese woman whose story is featured in a special video that was filmed in the DRC this summer and demonstrates what happens when women and men work together to create new hope in their community.
The video tells the story of their ‘beautiful idea’, a simple travel fund started with a monthly contribution of $1.00 each by the women of Zumbe in the north east of the country. This self-help initiative now enables pregnant women in the village who experience complications to access the local hospital by motorbike taxi. As a result, rates of both infant and maternal mortality have gone down. Up until recently three babies and two mothers were dying each month because they could not get to hospital in time.
The success of the initiative has meant that as greater demands were made on the fund, Tearfund partner Action Entraide were invited in to assist the women in developing a market garden, whose profits now support the travel fund, ensuring sufficient funds to make it accessible to all.
Dr. Meyer, who is the minister of Christ Church, Sandymount (United Presbyterian and Methodist) in Dublin explained, “Started by the women, the fund is now supported by the men of the village. The women have now set their sights on a properly equipped health centre in Zumbe that will benefit the whole community. A wonderful example of sustainable development and of the kind of project supported by the PCI through the World Development Appeal.”
The 2017 Appeal also tells the story of a young Congolese woman called Hope, who speaks with courage about the sustained sexual violence that she endured and survived, her faith and continuing trust in God, and her ongoing, but often painful journey of healing. Another Tearfund partner, Congo Initiative, supported her in this journey. Hope is now working to provide the same support to other women that she received.
Another project being supported by the 2017 Appeal is in Zimbabwe. Padare Enkundleni, a Christian Aid partner, is a faith-based men’s forum for gender issues in the country. ‘Delete GBV (gender-based violence)!’ is one of their slogans. The project the Appeal is funding will increase the capacity of faith leaders to address issues of gender inequality and GBV through church policies and programmes. One of its aims is also to engage men in working to end the practice of GBV in their own communities. The project expects to reach 3,000 men and boys, and by extension, 7,000 women and girls. You can download more information here.
Almost all proceeds from the WDA are channelled through PCI’s aid agency partners, Christian Aid and Tearfund. Supporting this year’s Appeal, Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely said, “As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we are unable to pass by on the other side. For nearly 40 years, the World Development Appeal has been a special and effective way for us to demonstrate God’s love to some of the world’s poorest communities around and each year our Church has given wholeheartedly.
“Last year Presbyterians across Ireland gave £544,622 (€619,317) for projects in South and Central America. It is my prayer that as we turn our focus to the fragile states of the DCR and Zimbabwe, and the issue of violence against women and gender justice, that same spirit of generosity and compassion will flow.”
“Watching the video to support this year’s Appeal, Ngalousi Felesi, one of the midwives in Zumbe says, ‘I hope that when people hear our story they will have a heart to help us and hold our hands.’ I believe Ngalousi can be assured of that,” Dr. McNeely said.
Looking ahead to the future of the Appeal, Dr. Meyer said that this year the World Development Committee decided to change its approach, “The reality of good sustainable development work, is that it is hard, it is long-term, and the forces ranged against you can seem overwhelming. And yet the wonder is not that the work is so hard, but that so many have the courage to embark upon it.
“It is in recognition of this reality, and its importance for the Appeal, that we are approaching it from a somewhat different perspective over the next four years. In our ongoing partnership with Tearfund and Christian Aid, the four years will be linked together by a common overarching theme, the challenges of sustainable development in fragile states, with a particular focus on gender justice and the prevention of gender-based violence.”
Dr. Meyer added that in years three and four, “we will return to the partners highlighted in years one and two, in order to receive from them a longer-term sense of how their work has developed, but also a realistic appraisal of the difficulties they have encountered.”
Photo: (1) One of Action Entraide's motorbike taxis en route for the hospital (2) Launching 'A Beautiful idea' are (left to right) Debbie Doherty, head of church partnerships, Christian Aid Ireland, Derek Hall, Tearfund's church relationships manager, World Development Committee convener, Rev. Dr. Katherine Meyer and Presbyterian Moderator Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely.
You download all resouces for the 2017 World Development Appeal here.
To donate to the World Development Appeal for 2017 please click here.