independent

Monday 22 September 2014

Couple urges public to buy lifesaving gifts

Maria Pepper

Published 24/12/2013 | 05:38

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A Wexford couple who had an emotional meeting with their sponsored African child earlier this year are appealing to people to buy charity gifts this Christmas.

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A Wexford couple who had an emotional meeting with their sponsored African child earlier this year, are appealing to people to buy charity gifts this Christmas.

Pat Barron and Ethel Cahill from Wexford town said festive gifts being offered by World Vision Ireland could change the life of an African family.

Pat and Ethel saw the work of World Vision at first hand when they visited Tanzania this year.

During the trip, they finally met Juma, a young man they have been sponsoring for the past nine years.

The couple were overjoyed to see him after years of corresponding through letters and photographs.

'It was very emotional. We have been sponsoring Juma since he was eight years old and we have watched him grow up through the photographs and letters he has sent us over the years,' said Ethel.

'It was such a joy to chat with him and his family. It is an experience I will never forget,' she added.

Pat said he didn't know what to expect before he arrived in Tanzania.

'I was slightly worried about what I would witness but I am so glad I decided to take this trip.'

Meeting Juma was very emotional. He is such a lovely young man.

'I feel very proud to be involved in his life in some way. It's very heartening to see how far my small monthly contribution has gone,' said Pat.

'While we were there, we met other children who despite having nothing in the world, would light up the room with their beaming smiles.

'It was heartbreaking to hear some of their stories, so many had to work so hard from such an early age to help their struggling families,' said Pat.

'Some had lost one or both of their parents and others had lost brothers and sisters or friends.

'They are so young and yet they have already experienced such hardship and pain.

'You could see from their eyes that they just wanted to be kids – to have fun and play, just like all children.'

Pat said it saddened him to realise that the chances of them achieving their dreams are so slim because of where they were born.

The Wexford couple said they were very impressed by the work being done by World Vision in Tanzania.

'This trip really put things into perspective for me,' said Pat. 'I know we have a lot of worries in Ireland, especially at this time of year.

'But when I was in Tanzania I met children with nothing and there was no social net for them to fall back to. They were really at risk.

'Even something as simple as a tummy bug could be a death sentence for a child who doesn't have access to clean water or decent food.'

Ethel urged people to consider helping children like the ones she met, by buying gifts or making donations this Christmas.

'I know times are hard for many people in Ireland now but after being in Tanzania, I know the difference even a small donation can make,' she said.

Last Christmas Wexford people provided 21 African families with a supply of chickens and 23 children with school supplies, as well as other gifts through World Vision Ireland.

'That's something to be really proud of,' said Ethel

'This year €10 will provide a family with five chickens that will ensure food and an income for them.

'I know many people question whether the money really goes to where it should but I have seen it with my own eyes and I can assure you it does," she said.

Other World Vision gifts include: school supplies for a child for €10; a hygiene pack with soap towels and laundry cleaners for a family in the Philippines for €10; set a family up for life with essential farming tools for €30 or help a midwife deliver a healthy baby with a birthing kit containing soap and sterile equipment for €50.

Gifts can be bought online at www.worldvision.ie/gifts or by telephoning 1850 366 283

World Vision Ireland is a child-focused overseas aid agency and is part of World Vision International, the largest privately funded NGO in the world.

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