(Vatican Radio) Responding to Jesus’ call for almsgiving, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) has launched its annual nationwide appeal to the people of Scotland.
SCIAF is the official aid and international development charity of the Catholic Church in Scotland. They work in over 16 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, helping some of the poorest people in the world, regardless of religion, to work their way out of poverty.
The annual ‘WEE BOX’ Lent appeal plays on the famous Scottish word ‘wee’ that means ‘small’. It encourages the people of Scotland to give their change to the charity. Boxes are placed in parishes, offices, schools, and even homes; and then the contributions are collected by the Church in Holy Week, and the first week of the Easter season.
Bishop Joseph Toal of the Diocese of Motherwell is the Bishop-President of SCIAF. He joined other archbishops and bishops in Scotland in urging people to support such a worthy cause: “SCIAF’s work is a great example of how we can all help people in some of the poorest countries in the world to improve their lives.”
Every year, the WEE BOX appeal tells a story about a particular project in which SCIAF is involved. This year, the appeal focuses on the work being done in Zambia, where the challenges of hunger and poverty are made worse by climate change. SCIAF is helping people to overcome these challenges by helping the people of Zambia to grow the food they need, improve soil and harvests, and ultimately build themselves a more secure future.
Reflecting on the important work being carried out in Zambia, Bishop Toal said: “Something as simple as putting your spare change in your WEE BOX this Lent means families in countries like Zambia will get help to grow enough food to eat, earn an income and have hope for a better future.”
Not all of the money goes into the project in Zambia, though. SCIAF is dedicated to raising vital funds so that they can help families affected by hunger, poverty, war and natural disasters around the world. In light of the famine that was recently declared in South Sudan, they have been helping communities in the region with emergency aid including water, food and shelter.
If farming, peacebuilding and emergency work are key themes for SCIAF, then another is education, which they see as something that will help people lift themselves out of poverty. Many of the poorest children around the world are denied a sufficient education. Thus, the cycle of poverty continues. The Fund sets up skills training courses so that people of all ages can earn an income.
Although the charity is an official charity of the Catholic Church in Scotland, it works with people of all faiths to offer help where the need is greatest.