One of the last events organised by the late Ed Le Quesne in his capacity as Secretary of the Jersey One World Group was a presentation at Ogiers by Tear Fund, and a meal and talk at the Liberation Suite. I was unable to go to the latter, but was very pleased to attend the former.
The focus of the Jersey One World Group is to:
· enable people to recognise the links between their own lives and the lives of those throughout the world
· increase understanding of the economic, social, political and environmental forces that shape our lives
· develop skills, attitudes and values that enable people to work together to bring about change
· work towards a just, sustainable and peaceful world
The President of One Work Group, Jean Le Maistre opened the evening by thanking Ogier for hosting the event, and introduced the speakers, Tom Herbert and. Clive Mather.
Work in Laos.
The first speaker was Tom Herbert, although it was more of an interview which took place while he was busy showing us his baking skills. Tom presented the BBC Four documentary “In Search of the Perfect Loaf” and appears alongside his brother Henry in Channel 4's “The Fabulous Baker Brothers”.
Tom visited Tearfund's anti-trafficking work in Laos, South-East Asia, where he met beneficiaries of the programme and the Tearfund partner staff working on the ground to help prevent children being trafficked
He demonstrated how using basic ingredients from the local market in Laos, he could teach young women basic skills which they could make a living from. He showed us how he was making a doughnut from “sticky dough”, with added sugar and some orange zest and a nice chocolaty sauce to dip it into.
In Laos, the favourite beverage is a very sweet instant coffee made with condensed milk, which is apparently delicious, especially for those with a sweet tooth, and most of the people there have a sweet tooth! So those local ingredients could be used to make a sticky sweet sauce with some chocolate.
By teaching basic baking skills to young women, they can earn a living and feed themselves, and they can in turn teach others the skills. This keeps them from looking for work elsewhere, such as in neighbouring Thailand, where they can all too easily be exploited by traffickers.
Tom ran a baking workshop to help provide skills and employment for young girls at risk of being trafficked. He showed them how to make a version of his 'Sticky Sticks' recipe with a simple method and locally available ingredients. 'Many of the young girls finish school aged 12. Tearfund's partners provide skills and livelihoods training that can give people a hope for the future, an alternative to the dangers they face being trafficked across the border to Thailand.'
Tom met 12-year-old Nang, whose family joined a farmer's group. They recently received vegetable seeds and attended agriculture training from the project so they can have vegetables to eat during the rainy season. Their buffalos were also vaccinated by the project to prevent the buffalos from dying.
It is by working with people and giving them the necessary skills they need, that Tear Fund can make a difference on the ground.
Work in Zimbabwe
The second speaker was Clive Mather, the Chairman of Tearfund. He said that the image Tearfund often had was in supplying relief to disaster zones, and while they do that, they also have a focus on teaching skills to people to enable them to get out of poverty.
This year is the International Year of Family Farming, and the “River of Life” project is all about helping people in Zimbabwe to acquire the basic skills to farm the land properly. Currently more than a million people in the country lack access to nutritious food and many are at risk of severe malnutrition. Poor farming skills mean that farmers do no know how to farm sustainable in the context of climatic change, such as recurrent droughts in the region.
Teaching them skills to farm effectively means that they can learn how to farm in water scarce lands and make the most of what they have. Proper training means that farm yields are around four times the national average. On average one educator trains 20 local farmers to transform their crop yields.
The change from subsistence farming to sustainable farming means that families can eat more than one meal a day, and are no longer hungry. They also produce a surplus which can be sold, and that means better financial security, and the opportunity to send their children to school, and better quality medical care.
Disaffected unemployed young men are those who are most likely to get caught up in Zimbabwe’s internal strife, where most villages have young men who have lost limbs in armed conflicts. Better farming, and the better education it makes available, means that there is hope for those young men, and that they will be less likely to turn to military means as an escape from a life of poverty and hunger.
Jean Le Maistre finished the evening by reminding those present of the ideals of Jersey One World Group, that we have a moral responsibility to help those who are our brothers and sisters in other countries, who live lives of poverty, hunger and suffering, and he called on those present to also consider making a donation to Tear Fund to help the work they are doing.
And with Jean’s plea for us to reach out and help others not as fortunate as we are, I would like to end with one of my favourite quotes from C.P. Snow, which I think is just as true now as it was when he made it back in the 1960s, and it reflects my own philosophy on the matter:
“I have said before, and I shall say it again, because it is the most imperative social truth of our age, that about one-third of the world is rich and two-thirds of the world is poor. By this I mean something very simple. In North America, in most of Europe, in Australia and New Zealand, and now in the Soviet Union, the great majority of the population get enough to eat and don't die before their time. That is what ‘riches’ means, in a world whose harshness those of us born lucky don't willing admit.”
“In the rest of the world the opposite is true. The great majority of the population don't get enough to eat; and, from the time they are born, their chances of life are less than half of ours, These are crude words, but we are talking about crude things, toil, hunger, death. For most of our brother men, this is the social condition.”
“It is different from our social condition. That is one reason why there is a direct call upon our magnanimity. If we do not show it now, then both our hopes and souls have shrivelled.”
It is time for magnanimity, and for those of us who can afford it, who do not go hungry, to come to the aid of those who are, not by just sending aid, but more importantly, by teaching skills, so that they can help themselves out of poverty.
Just £91 will pay for 7 farmers to be trained that will ensure there is enough food for 35 people.
We can all make a difference.
If you wish to make a donation, or to find out more about Tear Fund or the Jersey One World Group, you can contact Jean Le Maistre on 484004 or firstname.lastname@example.org