The Bishops’ Lent appeal for Kagera has raised more than £45,000 in just six weeks - with more money still coming in.
The appeal was launched by Bishop Mike and Bishop Martin, following an urgent request for help from our link Diocese of Kagera, in Tanzania, East Africa. Harvests have failed for three years in Kagera due to severe drought in the planting season and the region has also suffered the worst ever earthquake in the area.
Aaron Kijanjali, Bishop of Kagera, said: "The big challenge that has affected our diocese is a failure of rains, people planted their crops but they’ve dried up, the lucky families are getting only a single meal per day. We are really in great need to help our people."
Parishioners across Suffolk spent the six weeks of Lent thinking, praying, and raising money to support Kagera. Many of our churches organised fundraising events, including special services, Lent meals, a barn dance, plant stalls and cake stalls. Church schools got involved and in Walton Parish, Felixstowe, the Rev. Caroline Allen and curate Charlotte Cook used static bikes to cycle the equivalent of the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Route, 490 miles, in aid of the Bishops' appeal.
Bishop Martin said: “It is the most money ever raised in Suffolk for a Bishop's appeal. The funds will be used both for emergency food aid to help those suffering from famine, and for long-term development in the region. It's an incredible success and I am so grateful to all those who have supported our appeal to help those suffering right now in Kagera.
"The fundraising in churches is in addition to the major amount of money and voluntary time given across Suffolk every week, by people of our diocese helping those in need here, including volunteers opening churches as winter night shelters for Suffolk's homeless in Ipswich, running food banks for those in need in Felixstowe and town pastors helping vulnerable young people late at night the worse for alcohol throughout towns in our county."
Chris and Anji Dawkins, who during Lent took over from Jean Daltry as Kagera Link coordinators said: "We and the Kagera Working Group are so grateful for the magnificent way that people have supported the appeal across the Diocese. We will send money out to Kagera as soon as possible to be used for immediate food aid in the parts of the region worst affected by drought and we will fund longer term sustainable development."
Bishop Mike is flying out to Kagera during October, to meet the new Bishop of Kagera. He will see for himself at firsthand how people there need support. “The diocese of Kagera are desperate to support the hungry and to continue the educational processes of helping families and communities improve agriculture, and develop self-sufficiency. The money raised in Suffolk from the Bishops' Lent appeal will greatly assist in realising these aspirations."
In Kagera most homes do not have running water or electricity, most roads are dirt tracks and the region of 20,000 sq km has an average life expectancy of 62. Many people live on less than £1 per day. In September last year an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale was recorded in Tanzania and homes and churches in Kagera were destroyed.
The Kagera Link was set up in 1994 as a two way partnership to help both Dioceses benefit from sharing experiences and understanding of others lives. The partnership started after the genocide in Rwanda which saw 1.5 million Rwandans fleeing into Kagera.
To support the appeal or to find out more see www.cofesuffolk.org/world-mission/kagera