The following is the text of the appeal given at the end of Mass 25-26th February 2017
Good morning. We are John Sinclair, Mia Knight and Maggie Spiers and we are members of the St. Vincent De Paul Conference here in St Anthony’s.
This is an annual appeal by the SVP, and some of you may well ask, why the Sudan, why not the refugee problem caused by the conflict in the Middle East that is having such a profound impact on Europe?
The answer is quite simple. The SVP has made a long-term commitment to sponsorship programmes to help the Sudanese. In this way, the Sudanese can rebuild their lives and not become the next wave of refugees. Helping people to help themselves and stay in their own country must be the best way forward.
However, with so many other competing demands on funding, several donors have withdrawn support from these sponsorship programmes, so the support from the SVP is more important than ever.
You may have seen in the news last week, that the world’s first official famine in six years has now been declared in South Sudan. This is one of the most disadvantaged countries in the world. After a prolonged civil war, poor governance and economic crisis, more than a million people are facing starvation, including 250,000 children who are already severely malnourished. In a civil war, it is always the innocent and vulnerable who suffer the most and the result of this conflict on the population is devastating.
So what does the SVP do? We meet two basic needs:
In the short term, to respond to the needs of refugees and keep people alive we provide:
- A Feeding programme for babies and young children: Safe water supplies: Schooling and Foster homes for street children, and a Medical programme.
And for the longer term, and this is very important, we provide:
- A programme to teach the adult population skills which will ensure a sustainable future for them and for their children.
We work through local SVP workers, most of whom are indigenous Sudanese volunteers. They work directly with the poor and disadvantaged to meet their specific needs. The imaginative way in which this is done astonishes even the most experienced aid workers.
These programmes have already improved the lives of thousands of people and are providing them with the means to survive. Most people who have witnessed this disaster at first hand, ask: “How do we get the message across? How do we find the right words to explain what needs to be done?” One of our representatives suggested, after visiting a baby feeding station, that instead of saying “We are keeping babies alive” we should perhaps say “We are stopping babies from dying”.
Somehow that change of emphasis brings home the life or death situation faced by so many parents.
And this is where we are asking for your help. It costs just £1 a week to keep a baby alive. Such a small sum, just a few pence a day. The problem is that there are up to 10,000 of them. But thanks to the generosity of those who have supported our appeals during the last five years, we have been able to feed these babies. And the support from here in St. Anthony’s has been magnificent. Last year alone, including gift aid, we raised over £3,519 and over the last six years the parish has raised a life-saving £20,212.
The people we are trying to help are destitute. How wonderful it must be to receive a gift of food for the baby and to know that the baby will be fed, not just for today, but for at least several months ahead?
Today, we are asking you to continue to help. It costs about £25 to feed a child for 6 months and my question to you is – Could you afford to donate £25 to fund food for a starving child or to consider donating a larger amount if possible.
And please pray that our members in the Sudan will have the strength, ability and resources to continue helping these poor and desperate people.
As you leave mass today you will be offered a Gift Aid form like this. If you would like to make a gift, you can take a form, complete it, and return it next week with a cheque made payable to SVP TWINNAGE for whatever amount you can afford.
If you don’t want to complete a form or use a cheque, please donate whatever you think is appropriate, into the SVP Sudan box in the porch. Please remember that for tax payers, Gift aid means that for every £1 donated the SVP can claim an extra 25 pence from the government! Last year that amounted to an extra £407 towards our Parish total, so please use gift aid if you pay income tax.
One point I would like to stress is that the SVP deduct NOTHING whatsoever for expenses for this work – every penny will go for the purpose for which it was donated.
Thank you for listening, thank you on behalf of the poor and desperate people in the Sudan and thank you Father Dylan for allowing this appeal.