Help transform communities during Christian Aid Week

June 2011, Gbap, Bonthe District: Market day at Gbap. Goods are unloaded by the jetty. ''With hundreds of acres of flood plains close by, Gbap is not a community that should ever go hungry. But the departure, several decades ago, of foreign farming companies and the decade-long civil war, has meant that much of the land is overgrown and the community struggles to feed its children. New methods introduced by Christian Aid partner the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) are helping Gbap's residents work together to fulfil the area's farming potential and generate as much profit as possible from their produce. The Village Development Committee, established by MCSL, has also successfully lobbied for an Agricultural Work Centre to be built in Gbap. This will allow farmers to process their rice and cassava, efficiently and in great quantities, so that it can command the best possible price at market.
June 2011, Gbap, Bonthe District: Market day at Gbap. Goods are unloaded by the jetty. ''With hundreds of acres of flood plains close by, Gbap is not a community that should ever go hungry. But the departure, several decades ago, of foreign farming companies and the decade-long civil war, has meant that much of the land is overgrown and the community struggles to feed its children. New methods introduced by Christian Aid partner the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) are helping Gbap's residents work together to fulfil the area's farming potential and generate as much profit as possible from their produce. The Village Development Committee, established by MCSL, has also successfully lobbied for an Agricultural Work Centre to be built in Gbap. This will allow farmers to process their rice and cassava, efficiently and in great quantities, so that it can command the best possible price at market.

CHRISTIAN Aid Week tells the story of a community in Sierra Leone that has seen remarkable change.

Tenneh Keimbay’s life turned around when the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) started to work in her town, distributing tools and teaching farmers simple food production techniques. She talks enthusiastically about the difference this has made. “Now the children eat two meals all year round, whereas before it was one,” said Tenneh. “They are growing well; they don’t cry around me because of hunger. They are happy to go to school because something is in their stomach.”

The benefits of regular food speak for themselves. But the effects of the food production group have been more wide-ranging than this. Tenneh speaks of the huge difference working in a group has made to her. Acting together, the farmers can share their skills and work more efficiently. As she tells Christian Aid, the bottom line is that “the group work provides more food”.

Tenneh speaks of the support and the encouragement that the farmers give to each other, and how much can be achieved when the community comes together. She said, “What inspires me in life is unity. To me, unity means coming together to decide on one thing and take that forward.”

Now that they are no longer limited by hunger, the people of Gbap (pronounced Bap) have come together and successfully lobbied for a new school and an agricultural work centre for the community. The people of Gbap have taken their future into their own hands.

During Christian Aid Week, churches in the Banbridge area and across Northern Ireland will organise house-to-house collections and events to raise funds to enable organisations like MCSL to carry out their work transforming communities such as Gbap.

Christian Aid currently works with 507 partners in 47 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, helping people to make change happen.

Can we use this Christian Aid Week to allow ourselves to be changed? If we can work together, with each other, with our churches and with our neighbours both at home and as far away as Gbap, then we may start to see huge change happen.

Tenneh said, “When you are a group and work with focus and total commitment, you work at a faster rate; the stronger ones can help with work that weaker ones cannot do by themselves.”

Adrian Horsman, of Christian Aid, said, “As we engage in Christian Aid Week, we can rejoice as we stand together in solidarity. Although we might ask who is the strong and who is the weak – and who is actually giving to whom.”