“Bishop, we have to help those people in Africa!” said Diana Mulloy, an elder of Christ Church Cathedral in Whitehorse, as she entered the office of Bishop Larry Robertson this summer. The bishop replied, “Yes we do. What are you going to do about it?”
Thus began an effort that saw the Diocese of the Yukon– all 15 parishes raise funds for PWRDF’s response to the famine in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Bishop Robertson put Diana in touch with the Rev. David Pritchard, a member of the PWRDF Board of Directors, and the two of them put their heads together and came up with a summer’s worth of activities to raise funds for this important work.
Their activities ranged from a series of lunches at the Cathedral where Bishop Robertson spent his time barbequing hamburgers and hot dogs for those who came to holding an art auction. The Diocese set up a table for donations at the Fireweed Farmer’s Market, held every Thursday. As people came by to make donations, some were worried about their aid getting through to those in need. The volunteers at the table explained the history of PWRDF and talked about how PWRDF is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 111 Churches and agencies who come together for relief and development work. This calmed the minds of those who donated.
The local schools got involved in the fundraising. The elementary school made a poster with pop cans and candy bar wrappers and encouraged every student to give the cost of one piece of candy. “Some kid must have eaten a LOT of candy,” joked Bishop Robertson, “because that school donated $1063!”
The diocese partnered with the Bank of Montreal and set up an account where people could donate to the relief effort. They approached local organizations for donations, receiving $2000 from the Rendezvous Rotary Club. Other organizations donated as well.
All told, the Diocese has raised over $26,000 as of September 15 “from Fort Nelson to Dawson City”.
“People in the North know what it means to be hungry,” said the bishop. “People were talking about it at church and in the coffee shops. You couldn’t help but overhear the guy at the table next to you talking about what was happening in Africa.”
When asked what he would like to say to other Canadian Anglicans, Bishop Robertson replied, “We have found this beneficial to us as a Diocese. It was a lot of hard work, but it was very satisfying. People want to give they are willing to give. We just need to go out and ask.” He concluded by saying, “Don’t forget the people of Africa. After September 16, the hunger will still be there. The need will still be there. There will be a need for food, for training, for helping people to become self-sufficient. Don’t forget.”
PWRDF will not forget, and will continue working with partners through ACT and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to respond to this situation, to work with those in need, and to help them to become self-sufficient.