After a year of bad news and hardship, many of us are exhausted, clinging to the hope of an easing of the lockout. As the light at the end of the tunnel gets closer and closer, it’s easy to put your head down and focus on moving on to the next little bit of freedom. The opening of the gym, the first haircut, desperate to find some semblance of normalcy.
But, as we begin the slow journey along the roadmap to freedom here in the UK, the situation around the world is very different. It has been impossible to escape the devastating images and statistics that have flooded India in recent weeks. There has been an endless stream of heartbreaking stories and gruesome milestones; a baby girl dying on the hospital steps, surpassing 20 millions recorded cases, more than 3,500 dead in one day.
So here at Feed The Hungry, we decided to take a leap of faith and look to covid-tired UK churches and wider communities for support. Trying to keep our expectations realistic, we set up the “Oxygen for India” campaign, calling on people to donate to India.
Four hours later we had raised over £ 9,000. I remained humble and amazed by the generosity I showed.
Medical Defense Union (MDU)
National Office for Animal Health (NOAH)
During this year, I have often been overwhelmed by the response of communities to the covid crisis. Time and time again, they have mobilized to meet the needs around them. I saw the support at the Halo Center here in Coventry as we distributed food to hundreds of food poor people, as well as in countless other places across the country.
Feed The Hungry, working with other Christian charities, has lowered import duties on things like medical equipment to get it where it’s needed most. This enables us to maximize the impact of the resources entrusted to us and provide opportunities for those in the UK to support and empower those in need across the world, as well as at home. Faced with the call to step up once again, this time for communities further afield, there was a wave of generosity. This response should be celebrated, but it is also food for thought.
Our government’s attitude tells a very different story. As the impact of the debt created by the pandemic was felt, the government responded by cutting the budget for foreign aid. When we need it, our first thought is often on ourselves. Opposition to these cuts often highlights the government’s myopia, highlighting the impact of poverty abroad on us in the long run. The same was true of the crisis in India; we should be helping because of the economic impact it will have on us. There is a recognition of the moral case, but this is rarely seen as a sufficient reason for generous aid abroad – both the leaders and the opposition have demonstrated this point of view.
The answer to Oxygen for India contrast completely with that. The financial difficulties and the tensions and pressures that it brings have characterized the covid crisis for many of us. Job losses and business closures have become commonplace. So you might expect the donations to have dried up. But this is not the case. Giving and generosity are more than protecting our own interests or making us feel good about ourselves, it is about sincere care and love for our fellow human beings. At Feed The Hungry, we don’t just work in the UK, but with those in need all over the world. We are committed to showing love to all who need it, wherever they live.
When we see people as our neighbors, our equals, we no longer see them solely for their problems and needs, their place of origin or the impact of their lives on us. We don’t lead them into thinking we can step in to fix their situation. We see them. We see them holistically. We see them in context. We don’t just see their immediate problems, we seek to know and understand them, to see them flourish. Only then can we begin to take care of them effectively.
The needs in India, the UK and around the world will continue. We need to be people who don’t just respond to a crisis, but continue to be generous afterwards. The generosity of the response to our campaign, even after the year we have had, fills me with confidence.
Confidence that communities across the country will continue to show care, compassion and generosity to people on their streets and cities and around the world.