A NEW festive tradition began in Lisbellaw this week when local woman Libbet Irvine hung a sandbag on her mantlepiece instead of a Christmas stocking, to raise awareness of the hunger crisis in flood-hit South Sudan.
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.
Libbet, who is a member of Lisbellaw Presbyterian Church, is Christian Aid’s Enniskillen organiser, co-ordinating the fundraising efforts of the local churches. To date, the local churches have raised around £130,000 to support the charity’s work to tackle extreme poverty. Originally from Dungannon, Libbet has lived in Lisbellaw all her married life and has two grown-up children. She was a teacher at Lisnaskea High School until her retirement.
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 Libbet and all the Fermanagh people who support the charity’s work to relieve poverty in South Sudan and around the world:
“For many years, Libbet has stood in solidarity with people living in desperate situations. This year, her ‘sandbag stocking’ is helping to raise awareness of the impact that flooding is having on an already terrible hunger crisis in South Sudan.”
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