This past week I’ve participated in and now completed The Mean Bean Challenge for Tearfund. It’s been a challenging, educational and inspiring week. I’ve felt tired, hungry, hangry, inspired, my body has got sore, I’ve been envious and very grateful that I have so much choice ordinarily when it comes to food. I’ve had good and wide ranging conversations and been really impacted by people’s generosity. (I have almost hit my fundraising target! To find out more about my week, see some more photos and if you wish to sponsor me do visit my JustGiving page)
The conversations have in part been about how this campaign is framed and whether it does justice to the challenges of overcoming poverty. I like the quote in the image at the top of the blog. There is something about empathy, solidarity, sacrifice, an act of worship, an honesty that this is just a tiny thing to do, but one that is helpful in opening up more conversations and reflections. I’m very thankful to work for Tearfund who’s understanding of poverty is rooted in relationships, and how broken relationships are at the root of poverty. Restoring relationships with others, God and creation are at the heart of tackling poverty. Tearfund are doing some fabulous work to change communities lives and to restore not just relationships but the image in which people see themselves, and the image by which countries and people where we work are portrayed.
The weekend before I began the challenge it was Comic Relief. There was a lot of good discussion around its approach to addressing poverty. This one from David Lammy was my favourite. Africa absolutely deserves better from Comic Relief. Whilst its undeniable that this approach is effective in raising money, raising money should not be the be all and end all. It’s undeniable that the crisis in East Africa and indeed multiple current emergencies require a swift response. However, we must also get better at highlighting the creativity, complexity and hope that exists in these contexts, and we must also look beyond money and quick fixes into the challenging but vital areas of campaigning for change and challenging the status quo.
I however also really empathised with this Thought for the day from Giles Fraser on how our emotions and are hearts are not to be ignored or suppressed in favour alone of rationality and logic. Just as it would be wrong to totally throw out the Comic Relief fundraising, it also seems wrong to throw out the complexity and diversity of issues, we need to fundraise, but we need to do and be more than just about that.
I’m glad I took the mean bean challenge, very grateful for all the support and encouragement, but I am also re-motivated and focused to also highlight the systemic issues and injustices that need to be challenged and I am also keen to learn from and champion the innovation and creativity in Africa and other parts of the world, which tell the fuller, wider, deeper and more real story of the world in all its fullness.