Trócaire has thanked the people of Westmeath for four decades of life-changing support, as it marks its 40th anniversary this month. The aid agency’s annual Lenten campaign began this week on Ash Wednesday, February 13.
“For 40 years people of County Westmeath have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the most vulnerable people in the world,” said Justin Kilcullen, executive director of Trócaire.
“They have treated families living far away as their neighbours, reaching out with compassion during times of great need. Since Trócaire was established in February 1973, I have witnessed Westmeath’s life-saving support put to good use during the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s, the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the devastating Asian tsunami in 2004, and when famine struck East Africa in 2011.
“People from Westmeath and the surrounding diocese were incredibly generous last Lent, donating €483,387.39 to Trócaire’s Lenten campaign last year, a remarkably generous contribution that is building stronger communities across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.”
Ambika Paraja (9 ), who features on this year’s Trócaire Box, is one person whose life would be very different without this support. Ambika is from Jhilligoan community, a tribal village in east India. For years Jhilligoan’s people struggled to grow food on poor land and had no knowledge about how to improve their situation. In 2006, Trócaire, working through local community organisations, helped Jhilligoan residents advocate for their rights and to work with the local government to improve their village. The community now has clean water, a road, a basic school, a local health worker, and is farming more successfully.
“Posters from Trócaire’s very first Lenten campaign in March 1973 asked the question ‘Where’s my share?’ on behalf of the world’s poor,” said Mr Kilcullen.
“Today, communities like Jhilligoan are asking this question of their governments by themselves. They have gained this strength because people from Westmeath have stood behind them, and through their kindness have made an incredible difference to their lives.”
Trócaire’s Lenten campaign runs until Easter Sunday, March 31. To order a Trócaire box visit a local parish, log onto trocaire.org, or call 1850 408 408.