Westmeath residents spend over €36,000 on charity Christmas gifts

Trocaire has revealed that Westmeath people place gifts for the developing world at the top of their Christmas shopping lists, spending €36,421 on Trocaire’s Christmas gifts last year.

Trocaire’s 2008 Christmas gift campaign launches this week. Speaking about last year’s campaign, director Justin Kilcullen said, “It is clear from these figures that people from Westmeath think beyond friends and family when buying their Christmas presents. By purchasing Trocaire gifts at Christmas, Westmeath has made its mark in countries as far away as Malawi and Honduras. As part of an Irish effort to support the world’s poorest at Christmas, Trocaire has given over 500,000 Christmas gifts to families overseas from new homes for people in India, to livestock for African families, to school kits for poor children in Haiti, and the list goes on.”

Last Christmas, Irish people bought survival kits for families in Uganda. The Gulyeminas were one of the families that received a kit which included seeds, agricultural training and oxen. Amoo Gulyemina and her family live in a camp in Kilongo, northern Uganda. They were forced from their home by the conflict and violence. Since moving to the camp Amoo has struggled to survive. She was very happy and relieved to get the survival kit. “This gift will make our lives so much easier. Thanks to the ox we won’t have to dig the land by hand. We will be able to plough a much larger area and grow more food.”

Thousands of miles away, the Peralta family from Florencia, Colombia, are also benefiting from Irish Christmas gifts through Trocaire. Like many parts of Colombia, Florencia is plagued by conflict and drug-fuelled violence. John Peralta depended on growing coca for a living but had to give it up as it became illegal. With support from Trocaire he was able to find another way of life. Trocaire gave John’s family chickens, a fish farm and training through its Christmas gifts. John now earns a reliable income selling eggs and fish. But the biggest benefit John has seen is his family’s improved diet. “Before we got the chickens and fish we survived mainly on bananas. Now my children have protein, a much better diet.”

Speaking about this year’s Trocaire Christmas gifts appeal, Justin Kilcullen remarked, “When you buy a Christmas gift from Trocaire it’s hard to imagine the huge effect your purchase will have on a family far away. But that’s the truth of it. We are constantly speaking to families like the Gulyeminas or the Peraltas that show us how Trocaire’s Christmas gifts have changed their lives.”

Praising County Westmeath for its generosity, Justin added: “Trocaire sold 75,000 Christmas gifts last year and could not have reached so many families overseas without the support we received from Westmeath. We hope that people throughout Westmeath will continue to support our Christmas campaign generously again this year so we can help even more families.”  


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