In Harvesttide this year we are financially supporting the Bishop of St Albans Harvest Appeal which seeking to raise money for, and awareness of, the work of Christian Aid in the Dominican Republic.
The Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic shares – not always comfortably – the island of Hispaniola with the French-speaking and much poorer country of Haiti. Its economy depends on the tourist trade and on foreign businesses operating in its Free Trade Zones.
Many people in the UK will think of the Dominican Republic as a luxury holiday destination, but there is great poverty and great inequality in the country:
- Two out of five people are classed as ‘poor’; one out of five are classed as ‘extremely poor’
- The richest 10 per cent own twice as much of the country’s wealth than the poorest 50 per cent.
- One in five adults cannot read or write.
- One in ten people do not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation.
The fact is that there are now more poor people living in middle-income countries – almost three-quarters of them – than there are in low-income countries. That is why it is vital to challenge ideas of poor countries and rich countries and to support poor people wherever they are.
‘The image we have is the opposite of what we are. It’s like a slap in the face to the poor.’
So says, Melba Neris, a church member who volunteers in a local school run by a Christian Aid project in a poor community in the capital, Santa Domingo. She says: ‘I feel powerless when I hear we’re described as a middle-income country. It’s true, but I am powerless to change it. We had the first university, the first cathedral [in the Americas] here, but we are the last in everything... Inequality produces so much violence. I hope for a better life for these children.’
Inequality may dominate the development landscape in Dominican Republic, but through amazing projects, communities and individuals, there is hope.
A little goes a long way:
£2.50 could pay for seeds to set up a kitchen garden
£25.00 could pay for a gardening tool kit
£93.00 could pay for aday of emergency practise drills for a whole community
£293.00 could pay for a workshop for a whole community on preparing for natural disasters
We're also supporting locally the work of the Catholic Worker Farm in West Hyde again with our perishable and non perishable produce.
The farm is there to support and accommodate destitute women (whom we call 'Guests'). These are vulnerable homeless women and children disentitled to benefits or work permits, literally "street homeless", where together with others at the farm they try to live each day by the love and values of Jesus Christ. The Farm seeks, with our help to provide a safe, warm bed in our home, access to shower, clothes washing and cooking facilities, help with acquiring solicitors and medical care, English lessons, Citizenship Classes and Counselling, support with finding voluntary work and most importantly to provide a supportive, loving environment within which our Guests can recover and work towards self sufficiency.
The farm are in particular need of any of the following:
Tins of chopped tomatoes
Home made Jam
Home made Chutney
I hope you will join me in giving generously to both causes in living out God’s love this Harvest.