Over 800 people gathered in Shankill Parish Church to celebrate World Water Day recently.
They received a little help from the amazing Belfast Community Gospel Choir. Led by their charismatic Director, Marie Lacey, BCGC are one of Northern Ireland’s most sought-after musical groups. They have performed for the Queen, at the Titanic opening, as well as at scores of festivals, weddings and charitable events.
And they also heard from Coleraine Olympic Silver medallist Richard Chambers who arrived into the church carrying 20 litres of water in a huge jerry can. He was highlighting the plight of many children in developing countries who spend a lot of their days fetching the water for their families. Earlier in the year Richard and his brother Peter had travelled to Uganda with Tearfund to meet Doreen and Jouvllet, who face a gruelling walk up a 3km mountain every day, just to get the water their family needs to survive.
Richard described it as the hardest training session he had ever done.
He said: “We get up at 6.15am and we train five hours each day. Doreen and Jouvllet get up at 6am and their two walks to collect water take four hours in total. We choose to do what we do; to row every day and compete at the Olympics. These girls need to do what they do every day just to stay alive. It’s wrong.”
And yet just £14 would stop that walk and give Doreen and Jouvllet access to clean water. They can also attend school full time and have the chance of a better future.
During the concert, Marie Lacey, local journalist Will Leitch and Richard Chambers shared inspiring stories of the remarkable change they saw in the lives of people who were able to access clean water for the first time. Tearfund Vice President Bishop Harold Miller joined Rev Geoff Wilson from Shankill Parish and over £7000 was raised.
Rev Geoff Wilson said: “It was a genuine privilege to host the BCGC in Shankill Parish in aid of World Water Day through Tearfund. On the night, over 800 folk gathered for an evening of entertainment and worship centred on and grounded in the joy of knowing Jesus. Our collective efforts will mean that at least 1000 people will receive fresh water through wells and tanks in Uganda; so good to be part of this life-saving work.”