Roger Morton sends word from over the water.
I am back in my second home in the stunning scenery of West Cork in Ireland. I arrived to find the local community buzzing with excitement – some scenes for the next Star Wars film are going to be shot on Brow Head, the extremely narrow and sheer-sided peninsular I wrote about last year in a piece I called “Thoughts on the edge of the world”. In a selfish way, that is sad. Brow Head is probably my favourite place round here but it is now closed off and they are laying a temporary steel road to get the equipment out to the end.
However, it will only be until the end of May and then I am assured that it will be returned to its natural state. It is also very good news for the local community. The economy relies heavily on the tourist trade and the season is very short, only about six weeks in July and August. Outside that time, West Cork is really quiet with many bars, restaurants and hotels closing their doors. People hope they have made enough during the summer season to see them through the rest of the year. So the arrival of the film crew (and maybe some stars) has brought a much-needed injection of business and cash to this otherwise lean time.
Many of the countries where CAFOD works experience a similar cycle of periods of relative plenty followed by periods of scarcity – only for the people in these countries the lean times can be literally a matter of life and death. Have they harvested enough to last through the ‘hunger season’? This worry is even greater now as climate change makes the rains unpredictable, disrupting the planting, growing and harvesting schedule, as well as the greatly increased frequency of droughts and floods. CAFOD’s work with these communities is vital. Examples of this work which I have seen in trips to CAFOD’s partners in Kenya and Ethiopia include schemes to capture and hold rain water and irrigate crops, training in better ways to store crops and helping to set up small businesses to provide income throughout the year (usually run by women and including such enterprises as making bead jewellery and bars of soap with home grown aloe vera).
As you will be well aware, in addition to this important development work, CAFOD provides immediate humanitarian relief when disasters occur. These disasters, whether natural or man-made, are becoming more frequent. It is important that all countries unite to tackle the causes of these disasters and to ensure that international aid is getting to where it is most needed. World leaders have an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of their aid programmes when they meet for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in May. The UK has a good record on international development and we want David Cameron to commit himself to attend the Summit in person – but he will only do that if we tell him to make this a priority. Please email your MP and ask him/her to write to the Prime Minister urging him to attend the Summit. You can do that easily here http://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/More-issues/Emergencies
Also, you may be interested to know that people can be part of CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team, giving a regular gift to our Emergency Fund to be used when necessary. This helps us save lives in emergency situations throughout the world so please do click the link to read more about it.
With thanks for all you do to support CAFOD’s work and wishing you all a happy Eastertide.