From the March 2017 edition…
Milestone on poverty-hit streets
THE courage and visionary thinking behind The Space – reaching out to some of Glasgow’s most marginalized people – has been commended by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia.
As he blessed the project’s premises on Belleisle St in Govanhill, the Archbishop praised the commitment and drive shown by the Daughters of Charity who pioneered the outreach work among the area’s poor and the staff who are taking their vision forward.
“The Space is a place of hope,” he said. “It has opened its doors in welcome to all, especially those who endure the hardships of this time.”
Gathered in the building, which provides a drop-in and support service, were many Daughters of Charity, members of St Vincent de Paul conferences, and local church and community leaders.
They heard The Space’s project manager, Margo Uprichard, describe the facility as “the most hopeful place on the planet”.
Echoing words of Blessed Rosalie Rendu, a 19th century Daughter of Charity, she likened it to “a milestone on the street corner” – where all those who pass by can rest and lay down their heavy burdens.
Margo stressed: “Vincentian values of compassion, respect, honesty, trust and accountability are the lifeblood of the project.
“The Space is about enabling families to live flourishing lives in thriving communities, where people come together in acceptance and peace.”
Home to some 16,000 people, speaking 50 different languages, Govanhill is the most culturally diverse part of Scotland. A melting pot of ethnic traditions, poverty is also raw on the streets.
Among the most browbeaten are the Roma people. Mainly from rural Romania, they have little education and few life skills, but dream of a better future for their children.
At The Space they have found a welcome – a place of safety, “where the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face”.
Although unable to be present at the Service of Blessing on 23 February, Sr Ellen Flynn, provincial of the Daughters of Charity, expressed her thanks to all who make the work possible.
Commending its outreach to the protection of God, she said: “May it be a safe space for all who enter in hope and a place of transformation.”
Answering the challenge
FOR most people living in wealthy countries such as Scotland, it can be hard to fully realise what it means to not have enough to eat or to feel hunger regularly.
It is only when we unpack the shocking statistics relating to hunger that we begin to appreciate what it really means and the parallel worlds in which we live.
A staggering one in nine people worldwide do not have enough food to eat.
Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS combined.
As people living in poverty have to spend so much time trying to meet their daily needs for food and water, it is more difficult for them to spend time working to improve their lot for the future.
“The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty,” the United Nations’ World Food Programme points out.
Even as we pass through a period of shortages of some vegetables like courgettes – due to flooding in Spain – we still have more than enough food.
However, in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the vast majority of the world’s poor people live, up to 80 percent of the food grown by families and small-scale farmers is for themselves.
The lives of people who are already extremely poor are being made even harder by changing climates and increasingly extreme and erratic weather such as drought and floods.
Traditional rains have become more difficult to predict, and often don’t come, so families don’t know when to plant their seeds or whether their crops will survive.
Last year saw the worst drought in decades in eastern and southern Africa, followed by deadly floods in other countries that left millions of men, women and children malnourished and in desperate need of emergency aid.
Together, we responded and launched an emergency appeal and thanks to the generosity of supporters were able to get urgent relief such as food and money to the most vulnerable.
Adapting to the changing climate is a huge task and needs a shift in how we live and grow our food. This is particularly the case for poor farmers in developing countries.
This year’s WEE BOX, BIG CHANGE Lent appeal tells the story of how our work in Zambia is helping families to grow the nutritious food they need by working with nature using sustainable organic farming.
This is helping them to improve their soil, catch more water, boost their harvests, overcome the challenges of climate change, and build a more secure future for themselves.
As well as delivering practical benefits such as more food, our work is an act of solidarity with our sisters and brothers in need which is giving them real hope that they can change their lives.
David Munyindeyi, a Zambian farmer, is pictured with his family on this year’s WEE BOX.
We’re helping David, his family, and many others to grow more food and overcome the severe challenges they face.
This includes providing seeds, basic farm tools, animals such as goats, and training so they can learn how to make organic compost which returns vital nutrients to the soil and helps to produce bigger harvests.
We help them to grow a wider variety of hardier crops which can survive if the rains don’t come, and avoid using expensive chemical fertilisers, which strip the soils of vital nutrients and reduce the amount of food they can grow.
SCIAF’s Wee Box is one way of answering the challenge “when I was hungry and you gave me to eat”.
Your support of the WEE BOX, BIG CHANGE appeal during Lent makes a huge difference to people like David, in countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
It not only helps desperately poor people put food on their table now, it boosts their chances of a better future in which they can support themselves and their families and be free from the scourge of hunger for good.