Generous Dubs donate €16m to Trocaire in past decade

Fiona Dillon

Generous Dubliners have donated almost €16m to the Trocaire Lenten campaign over the last 10 years.

The figure was revealed as the organisation launched its 2011 Lenten appeal in the capital today. Now in its 38th year, Trocaire has raised almost €250m nationwide since the campaign first began.

The agency's director Justin Kilcullen praised the public's generosity: "Through recession and bad times, even when people here had very little, they stood by the people of the developing world -- and they are still doing so today.

"There's been a real sense of despondency and low morale in Ireland since the collapse of the banks and the EU/IMF bailout.

"Ireland's reputation has suffered across the world. In contrast, Trocaire's work is something for which we rightly have a good reputation and the Lenten campaign is an example of that. It turns despair into hope all over the world each year and it's something of which we can all be proud".

"The Trocaire box -- an Irish icon -- is filled with hope, dignity and pride," he added.

He pointed out that the money raised from the boxes had travelled the world giving the poor a voice and a new lease on life. However, he said that poverty steals 50,000 lives each and every day.

"In the developing world most people survive through smallholder farming. But globally there is a struggle for land and a parallel move towards land grabs, where poor people are left vulnerable to the illegal seizing of land by the wealthy.

"Some states are taking long leases on huge tracts of land in poor African countries to export resources to their own countries. This is an enormous threat to the ability of poor people to produce enough food for themselves," Mr Kilcullen said.

"Women perform 66pc of the world's agricultural work but earn 10pc of the income and own 1pc of the property. In Africa, where women produce up to 80pc of the crops, they are routinely denied the right to own the land they cultivate and on which they are dependent to raise their families," he added.

This year's Lenten campaign illustrates how poverty in northern Honduras makes people vulnerable and invisible.

In the community of La Confianza, home of Digna Portilla, the little girl featured on this year's Trocaire box, families are risking everything for the right to own enough land to earn a decent living, says the agency.