LAST YEAR, the Christmas Bowl raised $2.3 million to help people from conflict and disaster affected countries, including
Burma, where violence and persecution have forced tens of thousands to flee to camps on the Tai-Burmese border.
Funds raised support Act for Peace’s work with project partners in conflict and disaster affected countries including
Pakistan, Ethiopia and the new nation of South Sudan.
Act for Peace’s project partner provides food, shelter and medicine to people in the camps on the Thai-Burmese border.
This year, the Christmas Bowl highlights the work of Act for Peace’s partners in Zimbabwe, where agriculture has been
crippled by the combined effects of drought, HIV/AIDS and controversial government land reforms, and more than 39 per cent of the population is undernourished.
Act for Peace’s partners have introduced a low-cost and low technology farming strategy, called conservation farming,
which can increase a farmer’s yields by up to 200 per cent.
Act for Peace’s Executive Director, Alistair Gee, said the flow-on effects are enormous.
“With better yields, farmers can buy clothes and school supplies for their children, and reliance on food aid is reduced.”
Shanangurai Pedzisai, a farmer from the Mwenezi district of Zimbabwe, is just one person the Christmas Bowl has helped.
“Conservation farming has changed many lives of the people living in our community,” she said.
“I am getting enough food to feed my family and help other people. Now I am a better woman, because I can make some money to put my children through school.”
With her 50 square metre plot of land, Ms Pedzisai has renewed hope for her future – and her children’s future.
“When they grow up I want to train them to do conservation farming and to live better lives, so they can manage to support
themselves and other people,” she said.
According to Elleck Mabhena, a project assistant on the conservation farming program, it also has important social benefits.
“Psychologically, if you don’t have to think about food because it’s already there, there is less strain on members of the family, and it creates security,” he said.
“It also builds self-esteem for the farmers, knowing that they can provide for their families.”
Funds from this year’s Christmas Bowl will also be helping provide quality doctors and health workers in Kohistan, Pakistan, to promote greater awareness of the importance of health care and hygiene and help women access the pre-and postnatal care they need.
Mr Gee said that for more than 60 years the Christmas Bowl has shown how churches can work together to make a lasting
difference in the lives of people around the world.
“Uniting Church congregations around Australia have been extraordinarily generous in their support for the Christmas Bowl over many years. Thank you.”
A range of resources are available to help congregations incorporate the Christmas Bowl into worship, including activities
and worship resources prepared by the United Theological College in Sydney.
For more information visit www.actforpeace.org.au or phone 1800 025 101
Photo : A conservation farmer and her young son in Zimbabwe. Photo by Janet Cousens/Act for Peace