THE Bishop of Bath and Wells is aiming to kindle compassion during Christian Aid Week next week as he carries a bundle of firewood with him in solidarity with the world’s poorest people.
The Rt Rev Peter Hancock hopes to inspire others to #sharetheload throughout the week as he carries the firewood with him to meetings and services.
He will be highlighting the desperate plight of those living in extreme poverty and in particular the role gender discrimination plays in trapping women in poverty around the world.
One woman featured in this year’s campaign, 29-year-old Loko from rural SW Ethiopia, is forced to carry out back-breaking work collecting and carrying firewood for eight hours a day, fearing attacks from hyenas wearing thin plastic shoes pierced with thorns to raise enough money for just one meal for her children.
More than 1,500 volunteers across Somerset will mobilise for the week with special services, collections, fairs and sales taking place across the county, as supporters join together to beat last year’s county total of over £217,000 and help transform more lives.
Christian Aid, which celebrates its 70th birthday on May 13, supports partner organisation HUNDEE in Ethiopia which helps poor rural communities challenge violence against women and harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), working to bring about lasting change and ensure women can live in dignity.
They support the formation of savings groups and cooperatives and also provide the poorest women in pastoralist communities with livestock, which not only allows them to feed their family and make a living but also givens the status to take part in community decision making.
Bishop Peter says: “My hope is that the firewood will be a reminder to me and everyone I meet of the scandal that is poverty in 2015 and the urgent need for us all to share the load.
“My prayer will be that the people of Somerset respond generously this Christian Aid Week so that others can live a full life with dignity, not one in the shadows, filled with back-breaking work and fear.
“We cannot end world poverty without addressing the fundamental issue of discrimination against women and girls. By supporting Christian Aid we are helping to give women such as Loko a voice and opportunities so they can lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.”
You can follow Bishop Peter throughout the week as he tweets photos and reflections from his new twitter account @BathWellsBish.
Donations to the cause can be made online at www.caweek.org calling 08080 006 006, or texting ‘WEEK’ to 70040 to give £5.