Last year, during the World Cup, I used my blog to highlight life in the diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman, a diocese linked with our own Oxford. It is a privilege to chair the diocesan Link Committee and to have visited our brothers and sisters to see and experience life in that diocese for myself. We have a wonderful committee, made up of dedicated people willing to give to specific areas of life overseas. Some have been involved in developing parish to parish links, some have spent considerable time in Kimberley and Kuruman and others have much expertise of working with aid agencies and charities overseas. The partnerships we have made, and enabled others to make, give us a sense of sharing in a common mission across the miles that divide us so much so that we end up receiving much more than we could ever give.
There are many frustrations, life works at a different pace in the Northern Cape of South Africa and resources are scarcer, but there are a huge amount of joys and many of those joys are found working with the most poor and needy. I shall never forget the huge grin on the face of a lady we met on our last visit who showed us the pumpkin she had grown in her own little vegetable garden, assisted by a team of community workers, set up by a local church and supported by the Oxford diocese. Nor shall I forget the singing and dancing celebrating another vegetable garden, set up in partnership with the church in Watlington to provide a balanced diet for the neighbourhood, particularly those who have HIV/AIDS.
Programmes for orphans and vulnerable children are developing, which gives those affected by HIV/AIDS a place to play with other children and a place to receive a good balanced meal at least once a week. More than 11 million children in sub-Saharan Africa have lost one or both parents to AIDS related illnesses. Today we pray for them,their parents and grandparents.