Christmas Gifts for Waterloo
The seasonal Waterloo Partnership appeals had a particular urgency this Christmas. The Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone had left worsening poverty and deprivation in its wake, and we had discovered that the number of Ebola orphans needing our help was far greater than we had appreciated. To make matters worse, torrential flooding in September swept away possessions, food supplies and newly planted crops; including the ground nuts we had provided as a means of livelihood for the Ebola orphans’ foster parents.
As the money raised from our appeals was so vitally necessary to provide further humanitarian relief, we were absolutely delighted with the generous response we received.
The Christmas Gift Scheme, which offers donors gift certificates to give as Christmas presents, raised £5,300 – which with Gift Aid should exceed £6,000. A third of the donations received were for Ebola relief, a third for schooling and further education, and a quarter for farming and health.
We are once again very grateful to our regular donors from St. Faith’s, St. Mary’s and St. John’s for their valuable contributions. Year on year, local churches of various denominations provide a quarter of our Christmas Gift income.
Local schools provided another £1,400 through corporate donations, with more promised. This sum will provide care packages for at least five Ebola orphans, and will also contribute significantly to our educational projects
Christmas bag-packing at Sainsburys has been a traditional WP fundraising activity ever since the charity was founded in 2005. This year however we were disappointed to learn that the supermarket chain had altered its national policy, and that only charities supporting ‘local causes’ were to be allowed this privilege. Teresa McLaughlin, who organised the annual bag-packs, turned to Tesco Litherland for help; and we were allowed two cash collections at the store, raising £1,300. As always members of St. Faith’s loyally volunteered their help: our thanks to all the tin-rattlers, to buskers Rick and Rosie Walker for the organ accompaniment, and to Chris and Angie Price for counting the cash.
The generous response to our Christmas appeals will encourage us in our fundraising activities throughout 2016; since the commitment of the Waterloo Partnership to the needs of Sierra Leone is of course long-term, Sadly, the spectre of Ebola still haunts the country. The World Health Organisation declared West Africa to be free of Ebola on 14th January, but had to announce the very next day that a new case had been confirmed in Sierra Leone, after a woman tested positive post mortem. Since she had at least 27 high risk contacts, the risk of a further outbreak is very real.
Fundraising for our partners in Sierra Leone is essential and ongoing, but what matters even more is that we are not going to desert them and walk away.
(article first appeared in St. Faith’s Church magazine)