Trócaire volunteer Joe Murphy from Castlepollard, with Mohamed Mohamud Nuh, from Gedo, Somalia, and Caoimhe de Barra (CEO of Trócaire) at the launch of the Trócaire annual Lenten appeal as the charity mark their 50th anniversary year.

Trócaire mark 50th anniversary with appeal to people of Westmeath to support Lenten campaign for Somalia

Trócaire mark 50th anniversary with appeal to people of Westmeath to support Lenten campaign for Somalia

Trόcaire have marked their 50th anniversary with an appeal to the people of Westmeath to support their annual Lenten Appeal to support the millions in crisis in Somalia.

Established in 1973 by the Irish Bishops, Trócaire have changed the lives of tens of millions of people around the world over the past five decades.

Their annual Lenten campaign features the iconic Trócaire Box displayed in hundreds of schools, churches, and homes in the build up to Easter.

Trócaire CEO, Caoimhe de Barra, said the agency’s history is owned by people in Westmeath and the rest of Ireland, who over 50 years have devoted unyielding solidarity to those who are suffering in our world.

Trócaire’s 50th Lenten campaign is focusing on Somalia, where repeated failed rains have led to nearly eight million people – almost half of the population – struggling to find food.

“Millions of people are facing the prospect of starving to death. Thousands have already died. This is a shocking scandal,” said Caoimhe de Barra.

She thanked the people of Westmeath for their support and continuing generosity.

“We work in countries that are most at risk of conflict, climate change and poverty, and the work we do is as important now as it was when Trócaire began. We will continue to support and work with those who are most vulnerable both to develop long-term solutions to the challenges they face and in times of crisis.”

Ms de Barra said the terrible events recently in Syria and Turkey show just how vital humanitarian organisations are when disaster strikes. “As part of the second largest aid network in the world, Caritas Internationalis, we are able to respond on the ground through our partners very quickly in emergency situations,” she said.

She said the story of Josiane Umumarashavu from Rwanda, who featured on the Trócaire Box in 2004, sums up the impact of the work of the agency and the support of the people of Ireland.

“Josiane lost her father and siblings in the 1994 Rwandan genocide – today, she is working for Trócaire in Rwanda as a finance officer. This is a powerful story of how together we can influence change and improve people’s lives.”

This year’s Lent campaign

This year’s Trócaire box tells the story of one Somali family who are struggling to survive. Ambiyo, her husband Mahat, and their eight young children are among hundreds of thousands of Somalis forced to flee their homes due to a fifth consecutive year of drought.

After their crops failed and the last of their goats died, their only option was to leave or stay and face starvation and death.

After walking for three days, they arrived at a camp for displaced people in Gedo in southern Somalia with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Ambiyo was pregnant when she arrived at the camp, and when she was giving birth, she experienced serious complications.

She was taken to the nearby health centre run by Trócaire, where she and the baby received life-saving treatment.

Trócaire run all of the health services in the Gedo district of Somalia, supporting more than 220,000 people a year. They are fondly known locally as ‘Mother of Gedo’.

In recent months the number of young children presenting with malnutrition has trebled, and there is growing pressure on the services.

“Our work in Somalia and other countries is vital and I would ask people to support the Lenten Appeal in this 50th anniversary year so that we can continue supporting Ambiyo and millions of others like her,” said Paul Healy, country director for Somalia.