Christian Aid Week 2024: 12th-18th May

Sometimes the simplest things can make a world of difference: every year, people all around the UK come up with all kinds of fundraising activities to support Christian Aid – from coffee mornings to talent shows and cycling tours to sponsored treks.

The appeal gives us seven days and so many ways to make a difference to people in the most vulnerable countries around the world.

Our global neighbours are also amazing, in so many ways, at transforming their lives.

This is Aline’s story.

Aline Nibogora is 35 and lives in Burundi. She was married young and when she was 14, she gave birth to the first of her six children. Her husband was violent and beat her regularly – one day it got so bad, she fled.

“He would often jeer that he would kill me and bury me without anyone knowing,” Aline said.

Forced to leave her children behind, Aline wandered the streets trying to stay close by, asking anyone for a place to sleep.

“Those who showed me kindness would let me stay for two or three days, but it was difficult,” she explained. “People would insult me and treat me with contempt. They forgot I was a human being. It filled me with sorrow.”

Every prayer, every gift, every action helps transforms lives; sometimes the simplest things can make a world of difference.

In a patriarchal society where men dominate in almost every aspect, life is particularly challenging for women. They’ve been conditioned to be dependent on and dominated by men.

But Aline found the strength and determination to push back against the injustices she was facing.

She went to a three-day community workshop where Christian Aid-funded trainers taught people about village savings and loans associations.

“I came out of it with amazing knowledge and skills. During the training, I stayed focussed and was determined to not miss out on anything at all. I really liked the teachers’ methodology; they restored in me a sense of hope and energy to take on
initiatives. From then on, I started working hard, so I would not be dependent on anyone.”

With a small start-up loan, Aline began trading avocados and peanuts locally; then used her profits to buy a bicycle to transport greater quantities of goods to markets further afield.

Aline is now a grocery wholesaler; she’s been reunited with three of her sons and lives on her own plot of land in a village in Kayogoro, in Makamba Province. She is planning to expand the business and is building a home for her family – in hopes she’ll one day have all her children with her.

“I bought some solar panels,” Aline added. “We now have electricity and the children are able to see to do their homework in the evenings. It’s true there’s a shortage of food at the moment, so there’s no lack of problems, but I’m doing what I can to get by, before we are able to harvest.

“I enjoy spending time with my children, who are my favourite people in the world. We makes plans for the future and we pray together. This is important; we are still alive thanks to God’s grace. God comforts you through troubled times and gives you hope for a better future.”

Aline is also now the chairperson of her own village savings and loan association and has helped 25 other families.

“I have been fortunate and it’s important for me to be able to give back and train others who didn’t have that opportunity for the further development of the community as well as our country.”

Aline says the support of Christian Aid has made the whole community feel comforted and empowered.

“We feel we are not alone in our initiatives. Without your support we could not go further, you empowered us by changing our living conditions. Before, we couldn’t see opportunities around us. Now we can see positive and significant changes in our lives. We can be independent and live on our own thanks to your help through the training. I really thank you for that from the very bottom of my heart.”

Christian Aid supporters helped make this transformation for Aline and her neighbours – as well as millions of other people in the most vulnerable communities around the world. Last year, the organisation reached 3.3 million people through 275 programmes, from savings and loans associations to farming co-operatives, and climate disaster risk training to healthcare schemes. 

This Christian Aid Week – from May 12-18 – supporters are once more stepping up, knowing every prayer, every gift, every action helps transforms lives.

Many of the projects Christian Aid funds are long-term and designed to combat poverty and help communities tackle issues like the climate crisis. Burundi, like many similar countries, is heavily reliant on agriculture – and is one of the least prepared to tackle climate emergencies, including droughts, floods and landslides.

The global cost of living crisis has intensified the challenges families face, and now more than 70 per cent of the population live in poverty, while more than half of children are chronically malnourished.

Philip Galgallo, Country Director of Christian Aid Burundi, said: “In the areas where we work, people without their own small business or income will typically head out on an empty stomach each morning to look for casual work to buy food for the evening. Most only eat once a day. It’s not uncommon to live in a one-bedroom house built of unbaked mud brick walls with an iron sheet roof. Unstable buildings like this are exceptionally vulnerable to collapse during the landslides and fierce storms which the climate crisis is making more frequent.

“Most families don’t have a water supply, so they’ll collect water from rivers or communal water points; the threat of water-borne cholera is ever present. In most instances, neighbouring families share toilets, but it’s not uncommon for there to be no communal toilet, forcing people to nearby bushes. Similarly, there are no bathrooms or showers. It’s a fragile existence that pushes many to the brink of survival.

“Together, we can support families to secure a better future for themselves and future generations. With your help, we can work towards a world where families can escape the trap of poverty and fulfil their ambitions. Join us this Christian Aid Week. Please give to help more people push back against the inhumanity of poverty.”

There are seven days and so many ways to make a difference – whether that’s church services, special collections, Christian Aid Big Brekkies, or even a Bible readathon. For those who like a physical challenge there’s a new option for 2024 with the chance to take part in 70k in May. You can cover the distance in any way you like, take part by yourself or with a group, and share your progress on a dedicated Facebook page. Find out all the ways you can support Christian Aid Week by visiting the Christian Aid website.

What could your donations buy?

£5 could buy a savings book for a member of a VSLA, setting them up to start their own small business and become finically independent.
£30 would help a family buy two Jerrycans to collect water from the river to carry back to their farm. Jerrycans provide irrigation to crops, especially during the dry season, maintaining food production for the family.
£50 would mean a vulnerable family can purchase a water storage tank. Water can then be stored for a few days rather than travelling to the communal water point, allowing instant access to water for washing, cleaning and cooking.
£100 could help a woman set up her own small business with a starter kit; including money to purchase her first few items to sell. This means she could supply local grocery shops or restaurants with vegetables, set up a roadside shop, or buy maize to sell in bigger markets like Bujumbura.
£100 could also help buy a family a bicycle meaning easier transport to school, quicker access to medical treatment in emergencies or support carrying produce from farm to market.