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Guildford girl helps Christian Aid Week come to life

Date: 14 May 2012

Former Guildford High School pupil

Sofya Shahab is helping to bring home the message of how aid transforms lives as part of this year’s Christian Aid Week (13-19 May).


Twenty-three year-old Sofya, now a Christian Aid intern, travelled to Sierra Leone to see how partner organisations are helping people, particularly women, as the West african country recovers from war.


Case studies such as those gathered by Sofya are being used to promote Christian Aid Week, the charity’s biggest annual fundraiser. This year, the first £5m donated will be matched by the Government pound for pound.


Sofya said: “I met women in a rural village who have been campaigning for a better school for their children.


“Without the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL), this would not have been possible. The church is based in a district where two-fifths of children suffer from chronic malnutrition.


“Sierra Leone is still associated with its vicious conflict, in which women bore the brunt of the atrocities and are still bearing the brunt of the repercussions.


“Yet I met women like Mary Samuels, who through the Village Development Committee (which brings together marginalised people, such as women and youths, to give them a voice in the community), are gradually altering social consciousness in a country where women have long been amongst the most marginalised groups of society.


“It was Mary’s drive and charisma which convinced me that while it may be a difficult task, with a long way to go, her daughters will have the education and voice she desires.”


Sofya concluded: “The welcome that we received and generosity of everyone we met in Sierra Leone was incredible. Their concern was not for their own well-being but in building a future for their children, and for their neighbours who live in areas where the projects have yet to reach."


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