This Lent the Archbishop of Liverpool has offered his support to Progressio’s ZimFare and ZimFast Lent campaigns; inviting participants to stand in solidarity with people in fragile and marginalised communities in Zimbabwe and around the world.
“I care passionately about social justice and Progressio’s work,” said Archbishop Malcolm McMahon. “Your support could make a significant difference, not just because of the funds raised, but because it will give hope to people who most need it.”
70 per cent of Zimbabweans live in extreme poverty, and after years of economic instability and the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS, millions are confronted with severe food shortages. In Zimbabwe and around the world, Progressio works alongside local partners to support people in poor and marginalised communities to empower themselves, especially women and children.
The ZimFare and ZimFast fundraising campaigns involve either fasting on a simple Zimbabwean diet for six days or hosting a Zimbabwean-themed meal to raise vital awareness and funds to support Progressio’s work.
“By taking these simple actions we can empathise closely with the people in Zimbabwe,” the archbishop said at the briefing event in the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
Charlotte Reeves, a Progressio International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteer, revealed what she had experienced during her time in Zimbabwe. “Whilst I was out there I got to see first-hand the lives of the people in Zimbabwe, and the lack of basic nutrition that was available.
“I was relatively lucky being in a town where a lot more [food] was available. So it only leaves you to imagine what people out in a rural area would be left with.” Ms Reeves was in a team of six UK and six Zimbabwean volunteers, who worked closely with children staying in a child protection service. They also ran awareness-raising workshops in the community, among other activities. Charlotte told a particularly moving story about Maria, one of the local volunteers.
Maria lost most of her family members at a young age, and as a teenager she had no option but to leave school and find work. As a domestic labourer she worked long hours with little pay. She was treated badly and also lived in unacceptable conditions. However, Maria’s life was turned around when she got a placement on the ICS volunteer programme with Simukai, Progressio’s local partner organisation. Here she was able to build her confidence, develop life skills, learn English and socialise with the other Progressio volunteers.
“The programmes that Progressio supports do not only directly help the beneficiaries, but they enable people to get involved, build skills and become part of an organisation,” concluded Ms Reeves. “I hope now that Maria has got her foot in the door she’ll continue to get the chances she deserves, and I hope projects like these continue so that other people can get the chances that she has had.”
Best-selling Catholic novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who raised £1,700 for Progressio, spoke about his experience of taking part in a similar fasting challenge with his family last year. “By fasting you are putting yourself on the line and helping yourself to understand how tough it is for other people,” he said.
ZimFast and ZimFare were launched on Ash Wednesday. The campaigns aim to raise the vital funds needed to ensure the continuity of Progressio’s programmes alongside people living in some of the world’s poorest places.
Participants are encouraged to take part between 10th February and 27th March but can still take on either of the challenges up until Pentecost, on 15th May.
If you would like more information or want to get involved, please contact: [email protected]