Churches help to build peace, restore communities through Christmas Bowl

Churches help to build peace, restore communities through Christmas Bowl

Ecumenical social justice group Together in Epping joined thousands of churches across Australia in raising funds for the 2012 Christmas Bowl, helping to rebuild communities and save lives in some of the world’s most conflict-affected countries.

The Christmas Bowl is the Christmas appeal of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Together in Epping, which has members from local Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches, holds street collections in the local community, raising funds and distributing resources about the Christmas Bowl.

Joan Wilcox from Together in Epping said, “I’ve been supporting the Christmas Bowl since it began. It’s such a worthy cause, helping people with immediate aid, and also helping people in the long term — giving them a chance to get out, and stay out, of poverty.

“Working across denominations provides good witness to the community that churches are working together and gives me a warm glow, knowing that we can do good in the world, and where there is need we can respond.”

Last year’s Christmas Bowl highlighted the plight of Sri Lankans who fled their homeland to escape conflict during the civil war that ravaged the country for more than 25 years.

With support from Australian churches, Act for Peace’s project partners help Sri Lankan refugees living in camps in Tamil Nadu, southern India, providing health care, counselling, maternal health care and women’s empowerment programs.

Now that the civil war has ended, Act for Peace’s partners are helping to prepare refugees to return to Sri Lanka when it is safe to do so.

Act for Peace executive director Alistair Gee said, “Thanks to generous support from churches for the Christmas Bowl, we have started the work of building shelters for 50 families who have returned to Sri Lanka.

“Your support has also helped us to provide families with materials for rearing cows, goats and chickens, and tools and fishing gear for small businesses, so that they can provide for themselves and work their way out of poverty.

“And thousands more returned refugees and displaced people in Sri Lanka have begun the life-transforming process of being provided with the vital documentation they need in order to access basic government health services, education for their children or land titles.”

Funds raised through the Christmas Bowl help Act for Peace’s project partners in some of the most conflict-affected countries in the world, including Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma/Myanmar.

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