AN Antrim grandfather is hanging up a Christmas ‘sandbag stocking’ to raise awareness of hunger crisis in flood-hit South Sudan
Alex Chestnutt, a retired assistant bank manager, has been supporting Christian Aid at First Antrim Presbyterian Church for more than 30 years.
About four years ago, he became the church’s Christian Aid representative, coordinating the fundraising efforts at First Antrim.
The congregation of First Antrim has donated around £300,000 to Christian Aid to date, making it one of the charity’s most generous congregations on the island of Ireland.
Normally deployed in flood prevention, the sandbag is being used as a reminder that extreme weather exacerbated by climate change is a powerful driver of poverty and hunger, especially in flood-prone countries such as South Sudan.
In October, South Sudan saw its worst flooding in nearly 60 years, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their homes. Unusually heavy rainfall in recent months caused the Nile to burst its banks, leaving huge swathes of rich farmland under water.
As well as destroying homes, the flooding killed livestock and destroyed crops, worsening a food crisis which has left 2.4 million people at risk of falling into famine.
Christian Aid is working through local partners to respond to the hunger and flooding crisis in South Sudan. The charity is providing emergency life-saving support including blankets, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and cash to flood-affected families as well as cash, seeds, farming tools and fishing kits to families struggling to get enough food to eat.
Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked Alex and all the members of First Antrim Presbyterian Church for their support, saying: “For many years, Alex has stood in solidarity with people living in desperate situations. This year, his ‘sandbag stocking’ is helping to raise awareness of the impact that flooding is having on an already terrible hunger crisis in South Sudan.”
To support Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal, visit caid.ie/Christmas or call 028 9064 8133 to make a telephone donation.