The annual fundraising event Christian Aid Week has got off to a "tremendous start", say supporters in churches and communities across the country.
Christian Aid is a UK-based churches' international relief, development and advocacy agency. It acts on behalf of over 40 denominations and church bodies - but its ethos is to carry out anti-poverty work alongside partners of all faiths and none, in many parts of the world. Its emphasis is on ground-up solutions.
In 2011, Christian Aid Week is aiming to raise more than £13 million for poor communities across the globe.
Around 200,000 people are expected to take part all over Britain, going door-to-door collecting, joining in with sponsored events, holding novel fundraisers or simply donating online.
Many Christian Aid supporters also try to raise awareness as well as funds - though in an economically constrained environment, bringing money to the cause obviously remains vital.
There are also be special church services and school assemblies to highlight challenges and issues of justice in the developing world.
"We want to help people understand how even a small contribution can make a big difference to impoverished communities," a CA Week spokesperson told Ekklesia.
The agency has also produced a series of short films telling the story of Christian Aid and how the money raised is spent. For example, 'Out of Poverty' looks at the social transformation taking place in coffee-farming communities in Nicaragua - a country that escaped dicatorship in 1979, went through a positive humanitarian revolution backed by Christians and others, but has endured further dark days since then.
The film tells the story of Gustavo Adolfo Talavera, a coffee farmer and community leader in Jinotega, Nicaragua, who is one of the founding members of a cooperative which has been selling coffee through Christian Aid partner Soppexcca for more than 12 years.
“I don’t know how to read or write and I did not want my children to be like me,” Talavera says.
“I did not have the opportunity to go to school, so I tell my children to study and do what I couldn’t. We fight so that the new generation, the children, are able to steer this boat,” he explains.
"Supporting Christian Aid, financially and through its innovative advocacy campaigns, is a real investment in hope," commented Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia, which describes itself as "proud to be able to cooperate with and benefit from the important policy and research work through which Christian Aid influences key debates about development, poverty and global justice."
"Religion often gets a bad press for being narrow, sectarian, self-preoccupied and divisive," added Barrow. "Christian Aid shows a completely different face to religiously-grounded and motivated conviction, inviting people of all faiths and simply 'good faith' to share the vision of a just, peaceful, generous and hospitable way of living. This ethos, as much as what an NGO is able to say and do, makes a huge difference. It's something very much worth celebrating and donating to in Christian Aid Week."
To find out more about Christian Aid Week and download resources, visit: http://www.caweek.org/