A guest blog from our longterm main partner, Christian Aid.
As we get ready to celebrate Greenbelt’s 50th anniversary, this year’s festival also marks another major milestone — 30 years of partnership with Christian Aid.
For three decades we have sung, danced, marched, lamented, raged, campaigned and prayed together. Together we have been inspired to raise our voices for trade justice, for tax justice and for climate justice, and have dared to dream of a world where all are able to live a life of dignity, free from the scourge of poverty.
And over the last 30 years, Greenbelters have given generously and often sacrificially to support Christian Aid’s work – working with partners in 37 countries around the world to tackle both the causes and the symptoms of poverty.
At 2022’s Communion gathering, we heard from two Christian Aid staff in Kenya and in Bangladesh – Joab Okanda and Nushrat Choudhury. Joab and Nushrat helped us to imagine our future over the next 30 years if we fail to act on the climate emergency – one of the biggest causes of poverty across the globe. Together we lamented for the way that we have treated our world – and the terrible impact that climate change is having on those who have done the least to cause the crisis.
We then turned our lament into hope. Hope for an alternative vision of a peaceful world. And a commitment to change and to take action now.
This action included an opportunity to give – with 50% of our communion offering supporting a Christian Aid climate change project in Bangladesh. This was launched last September and is working with local partners to protect vulnerable borrowers from climate threats by overhauling the micro-finance they can apply for.
In its first year, the project has already helped to train around 600 Bangladeshi women on climate resilient agriculture to support them to adapt to climate risks. It has also started to address the power imbalances between men and women by increasing women’s participation in decision-making over the activities and businesses that will be established using micro-finance loans.
After another year of terrible heatwaves, storms and floods caused by climate change, we need to continue to support this vital work.
And so at this year’s Communion, part of your generous giving* will go to support the ongoing growth and impact of this project in Bangladesh. With your support, Christian Aid’s partners Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) and the Centre for Participatory Research and Development will be able to continue to support 15 villages in the Kurigram district of Bangladesh, with the longer term aim of reaching over 9,000 borrowers directly, and more than 14,000 family members who will benefit indirectly.
So, as we look forward with excitement for our 30th festival as Greenbelt’s main partner, we want to say thank you.
Thank you Greenbelters for your generosity and support. Thank you for standing in solidarity with those on the front line of the climate crisis. And thank you for taking a stand for climate justice.
*We’ll announce how we’ll be distributing your generous giving at the festival communion gathering on Sunday.
Click here to see what Christian Aid will be doing across the festival weekend.
The story behind the picture
Morsheda Khatun and her group started a clothing business after receiving start up funds from Christian Aid partner organisation Aid Comilla.
Morsheda is 21 years old and lives in a remote village in the region of Kurigram in Bangladesh.
Morsheda married at a young age, and shares her experience of how this can affect a young girls’ prospects, and value in the community. But Morsheda both studies, and runs a clothing business, leading and working with a group of women.
In one of the most disaster-prone areas of Bangladesh, an extraordinary group of gifted women artisans and entrepreneurs, are embracing new technology, to revive ancient art forms, craft beautiful beadwork, or make colourful clothing, to sell online.
Life is challenging in Kurigram, Northern Bangladesh. The climate crisis hits people hard, wreaking havoc on traditional farming livelihoods. For women, opportunities are even more limited, with societal norms to marry young, and little scope for study or future work.
Yet the women in these stories have come together, to carve their own paths. Many of these women are juggling businesses, alongside higher education studies, to further their prospects in Bangladesh, actively encouraging other women to do the same.
Christian Aid’s partner, Aid Comilla, have supported with training, equipment and the funds for business setups. Aid Comilla work with women ‘change agents’, who bring other women on board to setup their own businesses.
Aid Comilla provide training and mentoring for women on gender rights, and digital literacy, so they can pursue different economic opportunities, such a selling their own clothing or handicrafts online. They also provide start-up funds, and key equipment, such as smart phones, to enable them to start up and run these businesses.
The aim was to reach 5800 women through 580 women change agents over the project period. This has been achieved.