Stories For Change 46

Dear all,
Apologies for the lateness of this edition of Stories for Change.
Please do encourage people to attend the Hope in God’s Future day at Carrs Lane on the 4th November. We need to be sharing the message that those already being affected by changes in climate are those who have contribute


For most children, swimming is a fun activity, but in flood-prone Bangladesh, where over 17,000 children drown each year, it can mean the difference between life and death.

A non-governmental organisation, with the help of a group of Australian lifeguards, is teaching as many Bangladeshi children as possible to swim to reduce a fatality rate that children’s fund UNICEF says is one of the highest in the world.

“Every child that you teach to swim is a child that will not drown,” Australian swimming coach Jess Moss told a group of Bangladeshi swimming instructors, who will then go back to their villages and train the local children.

The swimming instructors are part of a training programme run by the non-governmental Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB), with help from UNICEF, to teach swimming to children aged between four to ten years. Since it began in 2005, the programme has taught over 30,000 children, with Australia’s Royal Life Saving Society sending over instructors recently to give advanced training to the Bangladeshi swimming teachers.

“Bangladesh is particularly prone to floods and it has got water everywhere and drowning is today a major killer of children up to the age of 17,” said Brithe Locatelli-Rossi, chief of UNICEF’s Bangladesh Health and nutrition Section.

“With some technical assistance from Australia, we have trained people, who today, as master trainers, are teaching children in villages. It’s survival swimming.”

With no swimming pools in villages, children are taught how to swim in murky ponds ringed by bamboo frames for safety. Kamran ul Baset, the national coordinator of CIPRB, said their programme was literally a life-saver.

“Death from drowning is really a big issue for Bangladesh. But if we taught a baby to swim, or even stay afloat, for 90 seconds, we would save a life,” he said.

Source: Reuters Azad Majumder, editing by Miral Fahmy

Dr Atiq Rahman, from Christian Aid partner the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) joined Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Climate Change and Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development in September to launch the International Climate Champions in Bangladesh. BCAS is part of this British Council initiative which gives young Bangladeshis the opportunity to tell leaders about the impact of climate change in their communities.

In pictures: Bangladesh’s flood plight. The low-lying country of Bangladesh drains three of the world’s largest river systems, the Ganges (Padma), Brahmaputra and Meghna and regularly experiences severe monsoon flooding. Check out this superb gallery of photos on the BBC News website. To see the Christian Aid images


Jamaica‘s economy, already saddled with the lowest economic growth in Latin America, has faced increasing difficulties over the past year as the global economy slowed. The economy faces serious long-term problems, including large-scale unemployment and an onerous debt burden – debt servicing accounts for nearly half of government expenditures. Inflation rose sharply in 2008 as a result of high prices for imported food and oil.

Like the rest of Central America and the Caribbean, Jamaica regularly experiences devastating storms and floods. In August 2008 tropical storm Gustav passed through the Caribbean, hitting the island with heavy rain and strong winds. Two people died and much of the island was without electricity. Christian Aid partners were in the forefront of efforts to help communities prepare for the storms.

The work of Christian Aid’s partners in the country continues to expand. As part of Christian Aid’s ongoing commitment to eradicating poverty in Jamaica, a new agreement has been signed to support S-Corner’s health (general preventative and curative, HIV) and peace-management programmes, as well as some core costs.


This is an extract from an article by Revd Ed Cox who visited Zimbabwe and in particular Silveira House in August of this year. You will be able to see images of the trip in the October Update and the whole article will be available soon on our website.

Despite the scale of Mutoko’s poverty, there was little evidence of development assistance. The government declared Mutoko a ‘no-go’ area after the aborted election of 2007: no go to any agency which might be responsible for agitating against the ruling party. Not that much agitation was necessary. Mutoko’s historical allegiance to ZANU PF has been tested for several years and Operation Murambatsvina (restore order) in 2005 saw numerous homes and workplaces destroyed as ZANU henchmen attempted to assert party control. Alex and his colleagues lost their workshops in the process and have now formed Mutokon Home Industries Union to challenge the local authority to provide alternative accommodation. In recent times, Mutoko has been a hotbed of ‘political’ disturbance – violence fed by unemployment and despair than genuine party allegiance – where most NGOs now fear to operate.

But not Silveira House, with the support of Christian Aid, it has been running vocational training programmes for the past two years with a growing number of satisfied graduates. Silveira House has established training programmes in a wide range of skills: from welding to tin work, carpentry, hairdressing, tie-dyeing and screen printing. Courses are pitched at different ‘levels’ and some participants have now been on a number of courses as they have grown in their skills.

Most graduates previously did nothing having finished school and lived from day to day from the meagre earnings of their wider families or friends. But newly acquired skills can have an immediate impact. One man had learned to make tin watering cans and other tin products. He could make and sell five each day at $10 a piece, earning him around $30 per day after the cost of raw materials. Silveira House has often provided basic tools alongside the training as well as some individual follow-up support.

Alongside the skills training, every participant learns about HIV/AIDs issues and also about ‘conservation farming’. Many homes in Mutoko have small subsistence plots growing spinach or maize, but Silveira House places particular emphasis on its course participants adopting sustainable agricultural practices alongside their newly-acquired vocational skills. Conservation farming requires no chemical fertilisers or heavy tilling and encourages people to plant a wide variety of crops giving households more nutritious food. It also enables hard-earned dollars to be invested in growing their small business rather than being spent on inflated supermarket products. Alex and his colleagues were as excited to show us their small plots as they were to show us their wares.


Join the Push for the Pool

The Stop AIDS Campaign is an initiative of the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development and brings together more than 80 of the UK’s leading development and HIV and AIDS groups, including Christian Aid. The Push for the Pool is its latest campaign for the HIV patent pool. This simple system could make a big difference to improving access to life-saving HIV treatments for adults and children who urgently need it.

Pray for the work being done.

Working with Christian Aid we have a vision: an end to poverty. Please bring this work before God in prayer.  To help, there’s a range of prayer resources on various issues

4 November

Hope in God’s Future’ Day at Carrs Lane URC, Birmingham. Come and find out how climate change links into your faith and what you, as an individual and as part of a church, can do .To book a place please email

5 December

The Wave: Come to the service at Westminster Central Hall and hear the Archbishop of Canterbury and then join the March to encircle Parliament. Bring the family, wearing blue and make a wave at 3pm to show you care about the world God created,

Campaign win

Gordon Brown will go to Copenhagen!  December’s Copenhagen summit is our best chance yet to secure a fair global deal on climate change.  And thanks to campaigners Gordon Brown has pledged to lead Britain’s delegation in person.  Now we need to keep up the pressure and make sure he helps deliver climate justice for the world’s poor when he gets there.  Please email US president Barack Obama, China’s Hu Jintao and EU president, Sweden’s Fredrik Reinfeldt, and ask them to be in Copenhagen as well.

Are you serious about getting Governments to take Climate Change seriously?

Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
01702 315981
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us.

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