Trόcaire appeals to people of Derry to support Lenten campaign for Somalia

1 month ago Derry Now

Trόcaire has marked its 50th anniversary with an appeal to the people of Derry to support its annual Lenten campaign to support the millions in crisis in Somalia.

Established in 1973 by the Irish Bishops, Trόcaire has changed the lives of tens of millions of people around the world over the past five decades. Its annual Lenten campaign sees the iconic Trócaire Box displayed in hundreds of schools, Churches, and homes all over Co. Derry in the build up to Easter.

Trócaire CEO, Caoimhe de Barra, said today that the agencies history is owned by people in Derry and the rest of Ireland, north and south, who over 50 years have devoted unyielding solidarity to those who are suffering in our world. 

“It is also owned by our brave partner organisations overseas, who work every day to better their own communities.  But most importantly, it is owned by the people who benefit from our work and who have hope for a better future in their joined humanity with people here at home.”

Trócaire’s 50th Lenten campaign is focusing on Somalia, where repeated failed rains have led to nearly eight million people - almost half of Somalia’s population - struggling to find food. “Millions of people are facing the prospect of starving to death. Thousands have already died. This is a shocking scandal,” said Caoimhe de Barra.

She thanked the people of Derry for their support and continuing generosity.

“Since Trόcaire was set up a half a century ago people in Derry have been unstinting in their support of the work we do and the difference that support has made cannot be underestimated. The number of lives not just changed but saved is huge.”

“We work in countries that are most at risk of conflict, climate change and poverty, and the work we do is as important now as it was when Trόcaire was set up.

"We will continue to support and work with those who are most vulnerable both to develop long-term solutions to the challenges they face and in times of crisis.”

Josiane with her two children

Ms de Barra said the terrible events recently in Syria and Turkey show just how vital humanitarian organisations are when disaster strikes. “As part of the second largest aid network in the world, Caritas Internationalis, we are able to respond on the ground through our partners very quickly in emergency situations,” Caoimhe de Barra said.

She said the story of Josiane Umumarashavu from Rwanda who featured on the Trócaire Box in 2004 sums up the impact of the work of the agency and the support of the people of Northern Ireland.

“Josiane lost her dad and siblings in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. She featured on the Trócaire Box in 2004. Today she is working for Trócaire in Rwanda as a finance officer. This is a powerful story of  how together we can influence change and improve people’s lives.”

This year’s Lent Campaign:

The iconic Trócaire Box is synonymous with the agencies annual Lenten campaign and has been such a feature in people’s homes over the past 50 years.

This year’s Trócaire Box tells the story of one Somali family who are struggling to survive. Ambiyo, her husband Mahat, and their eight young children are among hundreds of thousands of Somalis forced to flee their homes due to a fifth consecutive year of drought which has ravaged the country. 

After their crops failed and the last of their goats died their only option was to leave or stay and face starvation and death. After walking for three days, they arrived at a camp for displaced people in Gedo in southern Somalia with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Ambiyo was pregnant when she arrived at the camp and when she was giving birth she experienced serious complications. She was taken to the nearby health centre run by Trόcaire where she and the baby received life-saving treatment. 

Josiane still has the Trocaire Box from 2004 with her image on the front

Trócaire runs all of the health services in the Gedo district of Somalia supporting more than 220,000 people a year. It is fondly known local as “the Mother of Gedo”. In recent months the number of young children presenting with malnutrition has trebled, and there is growing pressure on the services. 

“Our work in Somalia and other countries around the world is absolutely vital and I would ask people to support the Lenten campaign in this 50th anniversary year so that we can continue supporting Ambiyo and millions of others like her,” says Paul Healy, Country Director for Somalia. 

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