Letter To The Diocese Of Rochester From The Bishops Of Rochester And Tonbridge

2015_05_10_ADear Brothers and Sisters

Tanzania Drought Appeal

This year we will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our partnerships with Kondoa and Mpwapwa dioceses in Tanzania.  However, this year of celebration will be very challenging for our brothers and sisters in Kondoa and Mpwapwa as the winter rains have been very poor.  Crops have failed and some farmers are having to sell their cattle at low prices because they cannot provide them with water.  Here are some excerpts from recent messages from Bishop Given of Kondoa:

“The drought is very severe especially in Kondoa.  I am saying we need rain not for our crops which have already died, but water for the animals.  Currently in villages even water is difficult to get….  Last Sunday I visited Itolwa, a village well-known for producing maize – but people there go for three days without eating anything! These people respect very much the bishop but could not afford to buy food for the bishop to eat.  Since I started my work I have never been to a place where people could not afford to feed me!.… The situation of famine is very bad!  We are so encouraged for our friends to be in solidarity with us at this difficulty time.”

Drought affects many areas of people’s lives and is likely to have its most devastating effects in the coming weeks and months when present food supplies are exhausted and people would normally depend on the harvest which has just failed.  When maize is brought to the region from outside, the cost is often too high for the most needy to purchase it.  This brings a risk of malnutrition.

We ask you to pray for our brothers and sisters in Tanzania and to help alleviate this desperate short-term crisis by contributing to our diocese-wide appeal.  We would like to raise £10,000 to share between Kondoa and Mpwapwa dioceses to buy supplies of maize which will be distributed by Archbishop Jacob and Bishop Given through their church networks to those who need it most.

2015_05_10_BIf your church would like to make a donation, we suggest that you choose a Sunday in May or June for a retiring collection.  You may wish to avoid Christian Aid Week (beginning 9th May) as we do not wish to compromise their appeal, but do consider Pentecost (24th May) which is when our diocesan ‘Challenging Poverty’ programme comes to an end.  We encourage you to see this as an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to challenging poverty, and this appeal is a very practical expression of that.

To increase the benefit of our giving, gift aid envelopes will be available both at the ‘Challenging Poverty’  Conference on 9th May – at which Archbishop Jacob is speaking – and also from Gill Miller at the Diocesan Office, St Nicholas Church, Boley Hill, Rochester, ME1 1SL (01634 560000 or gill.miller@rochester.anglican.org).  Please let Gill know how many envelopes you need, and they will be sent to you with guidance about how to process gifts made in this way.  Please send any cheques to Gill at the Diocesan Office payable to ‘Rochester DBF’ and clearly mark on the back ‘Tanzania Drought Appeal’.

All funds raised will be sent direct to Bishop Given of Kondoa and Archbishop Jacob of Mpwapwa for them to buy and store maize for distribution through their clergy to the most needy in their communities.  The drought is severe in our partner dioceses but the generosity of our own diocese may help prevent it from becoming a catastrophe.  We are planning also for Bishop James to visit Tanzania in early August in order to express in person our prayerful partnership in the face of these challenges.

Praying for our sisters and brothers and providing practical help in this anniversary of our partnership will demonstrate our love and solidarity in their hour of need.  We are grateful for your support of this appeal.

With our prayers and good wishes,

Bishop of Rochester

Bishop of Tonbridge