Every year parishioners at Our Lady and St Cuthbert’s Church, Maybole donate to SCIAF, the Scottish overseas aid agency, by collecting funds in Wee Boxes.
At the weekend they were delighted to welcome Alistair Dutton who is the director of the charity.
Alistair entered the humanitarian aid and development sector when undertaking an ‘experiment’ as a Jesuit novice.
A chartered engineer, he studied physics at the University of Durham, and philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford. He spent five years as Humanitarian Director for Caritas Internationalis, and more recently has been interim Director of The Sphere Project, which sets standards for humanitarian aid delivery.
When a Jesuit novice, Alistair worked for the Jesuit Refugee Service and was seconded to Caritas Nepal. On leaving the novitiate, he went on to focus on international relief and development and has spent 18 years in this sector. He has led several major humanitarian responses and worked in over thirty countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
He told parishioners: “I’ve come to say thank you on behalf of the millions of people you’ve helped with your prayers, by campaigning for change and by putting money in a WEE BOX.
“They might be small, but, thanks to you, these WEE BOXES bring about BIG changes. Together, we raised £800,000 last Lent – that’s an incredible sum of money – and it’s all down to parishes like yours. The pennies and pounds you put in the WEE BOX become seeds and tools, school books, wells, medicines, training for nurses. Your WEE BOXES bring hope to people in desperate need.
“We believe that no parent should have to watch their children go hungry because they can’t afford to buy food. But, although there’s more than enough food on this planet for everyone to eat, one in eight people will go to bed hungry tonight. It’s shocking – but there is hope. Together, we’re helping poor farmers grow enough for their children to eat – not just for a few days or a year – but for life.
“And this Lent, your donations could make twice the difference! Every £1 we receive by May 17 will be doubled by the UK government, so you can help even more people.”
He went to talk about individuals who had been helped, before moving on to how climate change is affecting lives.
He added: “We’ve got to show politicians that we care about climate change and we want them to do something about it. But we all have a part to play. By each making changes to our lives, like walking short distances instead of taking the car, we can make a big difference. This Lent, please take a moment to fill in the campaign card that came with your WEE BOX, telling First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon what you’re going to do about climate change – and asking her to act too.
“By putting money in your WEE BOX this Lent, by filling in a campaign postcard and by joining us in prayer for those less fortunate than ourselves, you’re helping many more families escape from a life of poverty and hunger.”