Aid Agencies Launch their Christmas Campaigns

International development charities Concern Worldwide and Bóthar are urging Irish people to spend selectively during the recession and to help the poorest people in the developing world this Christmas.

Concern Launches Campaign

Concern Worldwide recently launched its 40th annual Christmas fast in Dublin. Fast mascot Basil the Bear joined with Today FM's Ian Dempsey at the launch in St. Stephen's Green to help get the word out about the fundraiser, which has set itself a target of €1million this year.

“The people we are dealing with are not just cutting back,” said a Concern Worldwide spokesman. “We deal with women heating up water to give to children just so they’ll have something warm in their tummies.” The theme of the fast this year is to urge people to “Go hungry for Gloria” for 24 hours.

Gloria is a six year old girl who lives in one of the most deprived and dangerous slums in the world in the city of Nairobi in Kenya. Gloria has been responsible for taking care of her two siblings ever since her mother went missing six months ago. Sadly Gloria is but one of many such children facing a life of daily struggle and poverty and which Concern is dedicated to helping.

“It’s tougher now the way things are going for charities to do well and people have to be more selective of whom they support,” said Dempsey.

Approximately 4,000 people and 200 schools from across the country are expected to take part in the fast this year, which is being held on 3 December. A school teacher and two students from the school that manage to raise the most money will be given the chance to visit one of the charity's overseas programmes. Any individual participant who raises more than €500 will automatically be entered into a draw for a weekend away and those who raise between €100 and €499 will be in with a chance to win a fair trade hamper.

One annual participant, Darren Grant, who works in an organic supermarket in Blackrock, Co Dublin, said that, “Not eating for one day long was extremely hard considering we were in a food store serving people food. It really does challenge you, but also reminds you of what people are going through. That hunger pang you’re feeling is what a child can feel for days. It also reminds you of how people waste food. You really value your food more the next day.”

Although primary school children are invited to get involved by perhaps giving up sweets or tv for the day, it is not advised that they fast for 24 hours.

Bóthar Christmas Catalogue

Bóthar has also recently launched its “Waste Not, Want Not” campaign which urges Christmas shoppers to give "gifts with meaning" by buying their Christmas gifts from the Bóthar catalogue, which provides Irish-bred livestock to the developing world.

“We know that this year has been a tough one for many Irish people but if it is tough on us we must consider how badly people in developing countries are being affected," said Bóthar chief executive Peter Ireton.

“We encourage everyone not to waste money this Christmas and choose a gift that will help save lives and create a sustainable future for people suffering in poverty in our world.”