Friday, 8 January 2010

Good Neighbour Scheme

Outside my home the snow is over a foot deep. Underneath it, the ground is covered in a thick layer of ice. It's treacherous, to say the least. So I was very glad when my neighbour knocked on my door.

"I'm going to the shops," he announced, pointing at his four wheel drive car with its off road tyres. "Shall I get your shopping while I'm there?"

Other neighbours have come out to dig paths to people's homes. People push cars that struggle to move on the icy roads. They've called on those who live alone and made sure they're OK. In some cases, it's the first time the neighbours have shared more than a brief hello.

"Don't mention it," said my neighbour in response to my thank yous. "It's all part of the Good Neighbour Scheme."

By anyone's standards, I have very good neighbours. They've proved that this week. Time and again, they've come out to help someone, with no reluctance, no thought of profit, or repayment. They've seen a need, and they've jumped in to fill it. And everyone of us has felt better for it. Giver and receiver, the deed has left a feeling of well being within us.

But who is my neighbour? Is it just the person in the house next door? Is it the man who lives on my street? In my town? My country? My world?

We are all neighbours really. We're all people, we all have needs that someone, somewhere can fill. One person's insurmountable problem is another person's drop in the ocean.

For instance, in Sierra Leone, children are dying of hunger. The country is rebuilding after a bitter civil war, and many parents cannot support their children. For some, this is because of injury - soldiers on both sides cut off the hands and arms of men, women and children from the opposing factions, leaving a country full of people unable to work.

Those who escaped the amputations are not necessarily able to earn the money they need, either. Being available for work is not the same thing as having work. Industry, infrastructure, everything in the country is in disarray. Poverty is everywhere. And as usual, the children are among the worst hit.

World In Need runs a feeding programme through schools in Sierra Leone. For £5 (about $8) per child per month, we ensure the children get a good meal inside them every day they come to school. For many, it is their only food and we make sure it is nutritious, so it will help them stay healthy and grow strong. By linking it to school attendance, we are also able to ensure that this new generation will be better educated, gaining the skills they need to look after themselves, their families and their country in the future.

The programme is paid for by sponsors, people in the west for whom £5 a month is nothing. A drop in the ocean. To the child they help, it is the world.

From the snow covered towns of Southern England to the ravaged land of Sierra Leone, the whole world needs a Good Neighbour Scheme. Let's start one.

No comments:

Post a Comment