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Real People, Real Giving

Oxfam Collection for the Ebola Appeal

On Thursday 30th October,  Oxfam took to the Guildhall Shopping Centre in Exeter to raise money for the Ebola Crisis. It was an emergency appeal and the Disasters Emergency Committee launched their response to the Ebola Crisis on the same day as our collection, broadcasting on major media outlets – it was well timed, for which we were thankful. We were blessed to have raised £425 to go to those areas worst affected by the disease and to assist in preventing the spread. It was a tiring, but joyful day to see the generous giving of many shoppers – giving their small change, giving pounds and notes. They wanted to be a part of the fight against this horrible disease and it was something special to watch people come to give. Every little did indeed help, as Tesco says…

Collecting to save lives
Collecting to save lives

Ebola or No Ebola?

You can imagine after the effort of volunteers giving their time to this cause and the generosity of those giving a financial contribution, that I was a little frustrated at an article which appeared in The Independent highlighting the countries affected by Ebola, in comparison to the rest of the African continent not having Ebola. It wanted to emphasise that the disease had been grossly exaggerated.

I respect that there has been ignorance as to the extent of the virus, as the article explains, but I find the map quite disturbing. It led me to respond to the article via twitter where I challenged it by stating: “@ And what about the communities and the human beings who ARE affected by Ebola? Map the people, not the problem.

I felt that the article was missing the point. These are real people and whole communities and livelihoods that are being affected by this horrible disease. Whether they are restricted to just 3 ‘problem’ countries or not, these are real people – it is a call for humanity to respond and to help with the means that we have at our disposal. I feel the same about famine, natural disasters, conflict zones, poverty and much more besides. How can we sit idly by and distance ourselves from this?

On Our Doorstep

As I write this I am challenged by the many people in my own country who are suffering in many different ways and I do believe that charity is needed at home too. How can I give my time and resources to my immediate community? A woman who gave some money at the collection said to me “If it happened to us here, I would like to think someone somewhere would be doing the same.” The truth is, we are tempted to distance ourselves from the challenging, awful atrocities both at home and overseas. We can passively watch the television or scroll through our ‘news feed’ and quietly sympathise with what is going on in our world. Or we can actively participate and be the change we want to see in the world, worded so powerfully by Mahatma Gandhi.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)

Useful Links

With regards to the Ebola outbreak and the response of organisations, check out some of the websites below if you are interested in finding out more about the disease and what is being done about it.

These are just some of the many people, charities and organisations that are working to tackle the Ebola outbreak. There are also many other emergency appeals that have gone off the radar of mainstream media, and there are so many people that we need to stand alongside and support. Please do not map out the problem solely, but look at the people who are being affected. They are people. Not numbers. Not a geographical location. People.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)