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Great goat giveaway tackles Afghan poverty

Great goat giveaway tackles Afghan poverty – 8 Jun 2011

A pioneering animal husbandry scheme run by Tearfund is transforming lives among poor communities in Afghanistan.

Improved diets and better standards of living are resulting from the project which is targeting the poorest families in Kandahar province.

Each family that signs up to the scheme receives one goat and two chickens. They agree to give the second kid produced by the female goat to another vulnerable family in their community.

Khatool, who lives in a village a few miles from Kandahar city, is among those to benefit from the goat giveaway: ‘When I received the goat from Tearfund it was pregnant and it was my hope that it would bear a female kid, so that I could help another family.


‘After some time passed, I went to my backyard and I saw the goat with two female kids. It was a real surprise for me to see that and now I can help my neighbour, but I also have one to keep myself which makes me very happy.

‘I am grateful to Tearfund for this and for their help towards others, paving the way for us to remove poverty from our country.’

In another nearby village, elderly widow Zalaikha appreciates how the provision of chickens has given her family new income opportunities.

‘My family was one of the poorest families in our village,’ says Zalaikha. ‘I was growing older and disabled and, day by day, I was facing different problems. My family life was hard.

‘The Tearfund people who came here were such helpful people. They asked us to take part in a workshop, explaining that it was to support vulnerable and widowed people, helping them to be healthy.

‘I joined and learned lots of things. During the project, Tearfund helped us by providing different things, like seeds, shovels, goats and buckets, which were incredibly useful.

Incredibly useful

‘Besides these vital things, Tearfund also gave us two chickens which produced many eggs. In the first two months of having these chickens, I collected 35 eggs and put them under my chickens to hatch.

‘These produced 26 new chicks of which 19 were female. After a few months they were able to produce more eggs for my family to use to trade.

‘Now we can buy our necessities from the bazaar using the money from the eggs that we trade and for this we’re very grateful to Tearfund.’

The animal husbandry project is set to boost livelihoods for others as it is being rolled out in more villages. As well as this initiative, Tearfund is working in Afghan communities to improve water, sanitation and hygiene.

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Are orphanages the answer?

Are orphanages the answer? – 25 May 2011

Jessica was abandoned by her parents when she was a few weeks old. She was left to die on a rubbish dump. But, thankfully, her story didn’t end there. Chief Executive Reuben Coulter considers how the church can provide children with a hope and a future.

The challenge of orphanages

  • For every three months that a young child resides in an orphanage, they lose one month of development
  • In Zimbabwe, nearly 40 per cent of children in orphanages have a surviving parent and 60 per cent have a contactable relative. Poverty was cited as the driving reason for abandonment
  • Orphanage care is 10 times more expensive than family-based forms of care
  • In Eastern Europe it was shown that more than 60% of children who graduated from orphanages ended up living on the streets or involved in crime because there was no programme to help them transition to the real world.

Read the Families_Not_Orphanages Report for a detailed analysis.

Note: There are many good orphanages with dedicated staff who are doing their best to provide a safe environment for children who have been orphaned or abandoned. Tearfund does not mean to belittle or diminish their work in any way. However it is a short-term solution to immediate needs and longer-term solutions which are in the child’s best interests are desperately needed. If you are supporting an orphanage then ensure that they are following best practice and that children are not being put at risk.

  • Does the orphanage screen children to ensure that there are not other alternatives for the child? (ie there may be relatives who could raise the child if supported)
  • Does the orphanage endeavor, where possible, to identify foster parents where a child could be placed?
  • Does the orphanage have a ‘leaving plan’ for children who reach adulthood to help them enter the real world?
  • Does an orphanage have good child protection policies in place?
  • Are staff employed by the orphanage vetted?

‘I met Jessica in an orphanage in China when she was four years old. Jessica didn’t smile at me or grab my arm like the other children. She sat silent and alone, avoiding any contact. The staff didn’t know how to help her.

A few months later Jessica was fostered by a young Christian couple who were friends of mine. I wondered how the couple would cope with looking after a child who seemed so emotionally disturbed and withdrawn. That Christmas, I went to visit Jessica and her foster parents. As they welcomed me, a smiling girl rushed up the hallway and hugged my legs. It was Jessica. I couldn’t believe it. In the space of three months she had completely transformed into a vibrant young girl.’

Unsustainable & unsuitable

There are more than 100 million orphans worldwide. The number is growing rapidly, mainly because of AIDS, and there has been a massive rise in the number of orphanages as many organisations, including Christian groups, try to help these children. But are orphanages the answer?

In Ireland, the residential home model has had disastrous consequences for children, despite the fact that we’re a developed country with a social protection system in place and child protection laws.

In developing countries, orphans are potentially much more vulnerable. Many studies have also shown that children can develop physical and psychological abnormalities arising from institutionalism. Children are often abandoned by poor families who feel that they are unable to look after their own child.

In addition the cost of supporting a child in residential care is very expensive. Since orphan numbers continue to grow rapidly and outstrip available resources, residential care is not a viable option for caring for the majority of orphans in the developing world.

Many orphanages, like the one Jessica was in, are extremely well run and have a team of loving staff. However, even the best orphanage cannot replace the loving environment of a family.

So is there a better alternative?

I believe there is. Tearfund works with church partners worldwide to place children in local foster families where they receive the individual love and care that they need.

In Cambodia, our partner Little Conquerors has been able to rescue hundreds of children from the streets of Phnom Penh. Many of the local foster families are extremely poor themselves but, by receiving a low level of support such as help with school fees, they are able to take on an additional child. Little Conquerors’ care workers conduct regular family visits to ensure the child is properly cared for.

Jessica is now 11 years old. Her memories of life in the orphanage are distant. She smiles with joy as she walks hand in hand with her parents .

It’s an incredible example of the local church in action – of Christians welcoming vulnerable children into their home. With 100 million children worldwide in need of a family, it is going to take a determined effort – with all of us working together – to bring lasting transformation.

Please give today.

  • €22 per month can support two children in foster families
  • €86 can pay for school fees and books for four families for one year
  • €125 can pay for a social worker who places children in a foster family

Download a Standing Order Form to give regularly
Give online here

Churches unite to pray for Zimbabwe - 25 May

Churches unite to pray for Zimbabwe - 25 May – 20 May 2011

Peace, reconciliation, healing and revival will be the focuses of the National Day of Prayer on Wednesday 25 May. The day is also a public holiday to mark Africa Day, the day in May 1963 when the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, was formed.

The prayer event will involve the country’s three major umbrella church bodies: the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference. Tearfund is also supporting the venture, which desires to see reconciliation between people of various ethnic, religious, political and social outlooks.

Denouncing violence

The day seeks the restoration of social justice, physical health, spiritual wellbeing and economic recovery of Zimbabwe’s people. There’ll also be prayers for the revival of the church and transformation of the nation through a commitment to God, to each other and to the nation for economic, agricultural and industrial revival.

Church leaders will use the prayer gathering to make a public declaration denouncing any form of violence, victimisation, hate speeches, or polarisation of any kind. A spokesman for the Christian Fellowship of Zimbabwe, said, ‘Zimbabwe is going through a period of trials and tribulations. We are convinced that Zimbabwe shall never be the same again but this can only be so when people join hands and pray for their nation.’

Join in prayer with Zimbabweans

Join our prayer group on Thurs 26th May, 6 – 7.30 pm at the Tearfund Office on O’Connell Street. If you are interested contact us 01 878 3200 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Learn more of Tearfund’s work in Zimbabwe here and give today

Prosecuting traffickers in India – 5 May 2011

In 2006, Debbie Walker visited India for a two-week holiday. Confronted by the horrific reality of child trafficking, she ended up spending four years there with Tearfund’s partner Freedom Firm. Reuben Coulter, Chief Executive of Tearfund Ireland, caught up with her while she was visiting her family in Ireland.

How did you get involved in with helping trafficked girls?
During my holiday in India, I met young girls who had been rescued from trafficking. They were of a similar age to me but their lives were so different. I realised that God was calling me to play a part. Tearfund partner Freedom Firm were looking for someone with legal skills and I had recently graduated in law. I agreed to undertake a role to manage the team of local investigators and ensure that rescued girls received appropriate aftercare.

How do these girls end up being trafficked?
For many girls, it is the desperation of poverty which makes them vulnerable. For example, Laxmi was only ten years old when she was trafficked. Her mother was dead and her father was desperately ill, so she got on a train to Mumbai to search of work. She thought she was being offered a job as a maid but, instead, she ended up as one of thousands of child prostitutes in Mumbai.

What happened to Laxmi?
Fortunately, an investigative team heard that the brothel where Laxmi was working had under-age girls. They sent a team in to investigate and gather evidence. In coordination with the police, the brothel was raided and Laxmi was set free from her horrific life at the age of 12.

How did Laxmi recover from the experience?
Laxmi was incredibly traumatised. She initially entered a government refuge for women but it wasn’t a good place. Eventually she came to the Freedom Firm home where we were able to counsel, support and pray with her. We couldn’t undo the past but we were able to provide her with hope for the future. Today she is completely transformed. She is part of a local church and has a good job in a call centre.

You are back in Ireland now. What will you do next?
In September I’m starting a doctorate in law in Minneapolis, USA. I’m not sure where God will lead me but I’ll continue to use my legal skills to fight injustice. Each of us has God-given talents that we are called to use for his kingdom.

Take action this summer.

Refugees continue to flee Ivory Coast

Refugees continue to flee Ivory Coast – 22 Apr 2011

An ongoing ‘precarious’ security and political situation in Ivory Coast is expected to swell the number of refugees seeking safety in Liberia to at least 250,000 by the end of June. Unicef predicts the figure could even be as high as 500,000, as the crisis shows no sign of easing despite the arrest of former president Laurent Gbagbo.


Tearfund partners are helping thousands of Ivorians who have fled to Liberia, the vast majority of whom are women and children. Latest UN estimates say more than 140,000 refugees are now in Liberia, with 45,000 arriving in one county in just over a month.

Tearfund partners are providing healthcare to the displaced in Nimba County and clean water and sanitation and to distribute food in the adjacent Grand Geddeh County. The World Food Programme has begun airlifting food into Liberia from Niger and Mali but Unicef says the lack of supplies is a ‘major concern’.

Rainy season approaches

Another concern is that April marks the start of the rainy season and this could make getting relief aid to people harder as poor quality roads become impassable.

In Ivory Coast itself, although Alassane Ouattara is now in control, there are still pockets of resistance to his forces and outbreaks of lawlessness. Tearfund partners in Ivory Coast are to join a multi-agency assessment on returning to the western town of Duekoue, where fighting forced them to stop working three weeks ago.

Donate today

  • €31 can pay for school fees for a vulnerable child
  • €55 can provide a family of with essential household items,water containers and blankets

You can help the refugees by giving to our Emergency Fund today

Ethnic tribes in Myanmar receive aid

Ethnic tribes in Myanmar receive aid – 13 Apr 2011

Tearfund partners are successfully managing to bring vital aid to thousands of isolated villagers hit by a powerful earthquake in eastern Myanmar (Burma) nearly three weeks ago.

About 100 people died and another 150 were injured after a 6.8 magnitude tremor struck Eastern Shan State at the end of last month. Assessments put the number of people affected at 18,000 across 90 villages, with widespread damage to roads, bridges, schools, churches and monasteries. In the 50 most severely affected villages, more than half of all buildings have either been damaged or destroyed.

One church building in the Lahu ethnic community of Kya Kuni collapsed while a large gathering of women were inside, with 25 people reported to have been killed and many more badly injured.

Three Tearfund partners have been working in the affected areas since the immediate aftermath of the quake. Isolated ethnic Akha and Lahu communities, which have received no other outside help, are being assisted by two partners.



Food, water, medical kits, temporary shelter and non-food items, such as cooking utensils, have been supplied and work is progressing to set up a trauma care and support service for those affected. From an initial response in five villages, relief work has spread to 22 villages.

Another partner is offering help to five villages where leprosy is heavily prevalent, once again offering food aid, water and sanitation.

Partner staff also plan to set up Village Relief Committees which will help implement recovery activities, with special attention towards people with disabilities, the elderly, women and children. Using partner expertise on reducing the impact of disasters, homes will be rebuilt so they are better able to withstand future earthquakes and villagers will receive disaster response training.

Land restoration and repairs to water supplies will also be carried out.

Give today to support our Emergency Work

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