We would like to say a huge thank you to our wonderful supporters – you gave your time and support so generously this Lent.
Every year we are astonished and humbled by the generosity and solidarity shown by Irish families, communities and parishes.
Our 2013 Lent campaign was launched by the kids at Northampton National School, Kinvara, Co Galway, who won a national competition to have their design featured on the Trócaire box.
This year we introduced you to Ambika on the Trócaire box. She is a nine-year-old girl living in one of the remotest and poorest parts of rural India. And we told you about the enormous difference your generosity has made in Ambika’s community.
With your support they have learned about their rights and gained government support to build a road and a school, and to ensure their families have clean drinking water.
School students from around the country took part in fundraising events – some wore blue for a day as a show of solidarity with Trócaire, others fasted, others baked cakes and some even cycled the distance from Ireland to India! Check out our highlights slideshow below.
Trócaire celebrates its 40-year anniversary in 2013 – making this a particularly special Lent for the organisation.
Our annual conference in March looked at the need for a new global development framework to deliver for the world’s poorest.
It also considered over-consumption and resource shortages and what we can do as individuals to make a difference.
If everybody in the world consumed as we do in Ireland, we would need three and a half planets. This is clearly unsustainable but the fact that 85 per cent of current consumption is done by the world’s richest 1.4 billion people indicates that it may be possible to change this.
By Sean Farrell, Trócaire Country Representative in Uganda
For many women in Uganda, violence is not an isolated and horrid act, but a fact of life. A large study conducted throughout the country in 2006 found that up to 70 per cent of Ugandan women over 15 years of age had experienced physical or sexual violence.
Half of these women experienced violence at the hands of their husbands or partners. These shocking statistics are well above the average in Africa and worldwide, making Uganda one of the most dangerous places in the world for women.
Caption: The Catholic Church in Uganda is working with Trócaire to tackle the problem of violence against women. Photos: Alan Whelan and (middle top) Jeannie O'Brien.
Trócaire began examining how to best respond to high rates of domestic violence in Uganda. One of the issues that emerged was the lack of work to address domestic violence by any major religion. Trócaire set out to fill this gap alongside the leadership of the Catholic Church in Uganda.
There are approximately 14 million Catholics in Uganda with high levels of religious practice and faith. In rural areas, which suffer poverty and exclusion, many people turn to their local Church in times of difficulty or distress. The Catholic Church was uniquely positioned to champion efforts to end violence against women using its influence and reach into every village in the country.
In 2009, Archbishop Lwanga of Kampala, with the support of Trócaire, launched a national Church project to tackle domestic violence, spreading awareness of the problem through parishes.
Today, the call to break the silence on the scandal of domestic violence has been carried to each of the 25,000 Catholic churches in Uganda. Its parishioners are receiving and grasping the Church’s powerful message against the abuse of women.
In a survey, 88% of Mass goers said they had heard their priest or church leader speak about domestic violence. They are beginning to talk and acknowledge the problem. The silence is being broken village by village and church by church.
Archbishop Lwanga recently told me: “In a culture where matters affecting the home are not publically discussed, women can suffer silently. Our national campaign has created awareness, which did not exist before, of what is happening in people’s homes.”
The effect of this project has been transforming. Now, Muslim leaders have seen the impact of the Catholic Church’s project and have started a similar initiative for mosques across Uganda.
As long as domestic violence persists, the challenge to respond will be there. With your support, church leaders in Uganda are lifting the lid of silence and leading the way towards a day when the horrific presence of domestic violence might become a thing of the past.
Donal Dineen’s Parish, Rarely Seen Above Ground (RSAG) and the Dublin Afro-Beat Ensemble will headline at this year’s TrócaireLive at the Grand Social in Dublin on Saturday 27 April.
This is the third year of TrócaireLive – an event offering an exuberant gig experience with an international flavour.
Caption: RSAG, Discovery Gospel Choir and Gypsy Rebel Rabble are just three of the acts playing at Trócaire live on April 27. Photos: Marc O'Sullivan.
This year, we’re planning an even bigger and better event – a mini festival experience for gig goers.
You’ll find international food, drumming and dance as well as performances from some of Ireland’s most creative and energetic acts. You can soak up the festival atmosphere on the roof garden with live music from 5pm.
It’s Trócaire’s 40-year anniversary this year making the event even more special.
Doors open at 5pm and admission is free before 7pm and €10 after 7pm.
Last November, an earthquake struck the San Marcos region of north-western Guatemala, killing 41 people and leaving over 20,000 homeless.
When I visited San Marcos in February, the destruction of that earthquake could still be seen in the damaged buildings and piles of rubble that littered the streets.
The San Marcos earthquake did not generate many headlines outside of Guatemala. It was small news internationally, but for the people of this region the damage it caused was huge.
Mayda Mendoza Diongio’s house was completely destroyed when a boulder rolled down a hill and crashed through the front door of the house.
“Thankfully my children were at my sister’s house,” she said. “We are always told to stand at the doorframe if an earthquake hits, but if they had stood at our doorframe the boulder would have killed them. I saved for years to build the house and I lost it all in just a few minutes, but at least my family was not harmed.”
Caption: Bottom: Mayda Mendoza Diongio’s with daughters Melisa and Paola beside the boulder that crashed into their house during the November earthquake. Top: Mayda examines the coffee growing on the plot of land where her new house will be built.
A little down the road, Marvin Méndez Fuentes is also thankful for the stroke of luck that saved the lives of his children. There is nothing left of what was once his home – but he knows it could have been worse.
I was working in the field when the earthquake happened,” he told us. “Thankfully, my wife and children were all at a funeral and were not at home. Ten of my neighbours were killed when their house collapsed on them. If the earthquake had happened at night, we would all have been killed.”
Caption: Marvin and his son Jose Enrique beside the rubble of their home in February, 2013 and (top) with family outside what will be their new home.
Trócaire is currently rebuilding and repairing houses in San Marcos. This is one of the many humanitarian projects Trócaire carries out to rebuild lives after emergencies that many people outside of the affected region will not even have heard about.
Sixty-nine-year-old grandmother Maria Margarita Quiroa lived her whole life in the home that was destroyed by the earthquake. Like many others in San Marcos, she will soon be able to move back into a proper home, thanks to the support Trócaire receives from the Irish public.
For Maria, a new home means everything.
“It was so sad to see the house destroyed,” she said. “I was born in that house, as were my four children and five of my grandchildren. We lost everything. With the new house At least I will be able to see out the last days of my life in a proper home.”
Caption: Maria Margarita Quiroa inside her temporary home in February 2013. Below, work is underway on her new home, March 2013.
All photos by Alan Whelan bar the bottom two and middle top by Trócaire Guatemala.
“On 24 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was murdered while celebrating Mass in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital in San Salvador. His murder was a reprisal for his unflinching defence of human rights and of the rights of the poor in El Salvador.”
This quote taken from ‘The Search for Justice’, a book detailing the history of Trócaire, continues to reflect the dangers facing individuals, groups and organisations working for justice in the developing world in 2013.
Every day, people around the world face death threats, intimidation and assassination for their work defending the poor and vulnerable in their communities.
To highlight these dangers, Trócaire launched its ‘Power Up’ campaign for Lent 2013, calling for greater protection for community leaders and activists. Campaigners around the country immediately answered the call to action and either wrote letters or took our online e-action.
Within days of the launch in February, hundreds of people had written to their local TDs, who in turn took action in the Dáil, tabling Parliamentary Questions and writing to Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, asking him to use his influence to protect those under threat.
Left: Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at the Trócaire 40th anniversary conference in March. Right: campaigners lend their support to the Power Up campaign
The Tánaiste was quick to respond: “I welcome the focus of this year’s Trócaire Lenten Campaign on the rights of citizens and community organisations to participate in and influence decisions that affect their lives”, he wrote to the TDs who had contacted him.
The Tánaiste confirmed that Ireland will take the lead in the nine countries in which Irish Aid operates, both on a funding and a diplomatic level, to ensure that groups in those countries are able to work for their rights without threat of intimidation.
“Ireland’s partnerships in these countries are founded on respect for human rights, and we will continue to emphasise in our dialogue with partner governments that it is essential to ensure the role of civil society organisations is enhanced,” he said.
But these are just the first steps in the campaign, and it’s important that people here in Ireland continue to add their voices to our call to protect people at risk overseas. If you haven’t signed our online petition, you can still do so, adding your voice to calls to protect people who risk their lives to help others.