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Friday, December 9, 2016
Celebration for 'Jewel in Crown' of Scottish Catholic Church
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¬†Leading Scottish aid agency, SCIAF, ended its 40th anniversary year with a celebration of the lives it has changed. At the event in Edinburgh on Saturday, speakers from India, Colombia, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia joined with SCIAF Chief Executive Paul Chitnis, Cardinal O'Brien (SCIAF Chair) Bishop Moran (SCIAF President) and over 500 SCIAF supporters from across Scotland to celebrate the agency's continued work for justice. Monsignor Hector Fabio, from Colombia, Betty Gahima from Rwanda, Beatrice Lubega from Uganda, Sr Jember from Ethiopia, Ray Kancherla and Ms Mirunalini from India joined Thomas Hastie, a SCIAF supporter from Scotland, in explaining how their lives had been touched. Bishop Moran opened the event, saying: "I'm new to the post of Bishop President of SCIAF and I hope to learn from your enthusiasm. This is a day of celebration and recommitment. There are a lot of people here today and that is a source of great joy for us at SCIAF. We're grateful for your support and for coming in such great numbers." Sister Jember also addressed the gathering. She established the Integrated Holistic Approach Urban Development Project (IHA-UDP) in 1989 after a long and varied career in healthcare. She was a political prisoner from 1976 to 1981 but continued her work by training health assistants in prison. In 1989 she recognised the need to work with the urban poor who face insecurity, unemployment, poor housing and the growing scourge of HIV/AIDS. She explained how IHA-UDP has a varied programme that responds to these problems in a number of ways including providing small grants, establishing a clinic, demolishing poor housing and building good simple replacements. She concluded: "Donations from SCIAF have made a difference to the quality of life or the poorest of the poor. SCIAF has enabled us to reach out. I thank God and bless all of you for the work you are supporting." Monsignor Fabio explained how he had become involved in the peace process in Colombia, assisting in negotiating for the release of several foreign hostages including Briton Mark Henderson in 2003. Part of the process included compiling a report into some of the most vulnerable sections of Colombian society. He said: "I want to give thanks to SCIAF. Very poor peasants in Colombia are receiving your support and because of that they now think its possible to build a new country with a sustainable peace. They've grown in confidence and are pushing the Government to make changes." Paul Chitnis, SCIAF Chief Executive, said: "From its earliest days operating out of a classroom in Rutherglen in Glasgow 40 years ago, SCIAF has become the leading indigenous international aid agency in Scotland. In 1965, its income was £8090. In 2005, it was over £7 million. In 40 years, SCIAF has received more than £65 million for its work in the developing world. Two thirds of that income has come in the last ten years. We have worked in over 100 countries. Millions of people have had their lives touched by your generosity through SCIAF. "We have responded to emergencies in Biafra in the 60's, in Pakistan in the 70's, Ethiopia in the 80's, Rwanda in the 90's and only last year the tsunami in south Asia. Our development work through local partner organisations is helping communities create a sustainable future for themselves. " Throughout the day, supporters were encouraged to meet the international visitors, to visit stalls on SCIAF's work in Scotland and overseas and to participate in a range of activities including an unfair bungee run to illustrate the unjust trade rules that condemn poor countries to poverty. The day closed with Mass where the main concelebrant was Cardinal O'Brien. The Cardinal said: "What a task is ours; what a task belongs to each and everyone of us associated with SCIAF. I cannot better express the thanks of the Bishops of Scotland than to remind you of the words in our pastoral letter for the 40th anniversary of SCIAF: "We express our deepest gratitude to our hundreds and thousands of people in Scotland who have helped, through SCIAF, to bring joy and hope over four decades to millions of people living in poverty and to make SCIAF, our own Scottish Catholic Agency for Development, .the Jewel in the Crown' of the Scottish Catholic Church." Source: SCIAF
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