Next Sunday is the annual Share Lent collection for Development and Peace, so I would like to take this opportunity to give you a “heads up” and provide you with the reasons why you should make a contribution to this year’s campaign.
This year, as always, C.C.O.D.P. (Canadian Catholic organization for Development and Peace) has chosen its theme, and the focus of its energies very well: Together for Peace. In our ever more violent world, D&P is trying, this year, to renew our belief in the possibility of peace through dialogue, by affirming it, and by supporting partners in troubled areas of the world where, against all odds, dialogue is in fact working to promote peace. We have been privileged to witness a few examples in the messages that Development and Peace provided for us during our Sunday masses over the past three weeks, with a last one scheduled for today. Their bet has paid off. Dialogue is working. And because it is, more people than a year ago are emboldened to believe in its fruitfulness. Here is a first reason to make a donation: your gift will enhance D&P’s potential to make a difference in terms of dialogue, and its effect: peace. But there are other reasons, more of an ongoing nature.
Why are D&P’s themes and focuses of action always so relevant, so timely? Because they have their two feet on the ground. They don’t hatch their themes and their concrete development actions in an office in Montreal or in Toronto. They have legions of partners in the developing world. With these partners, they discern locally what the problems, issues, and challenges are, and together with these same partners, they come up with realistic, effective, grassroots, manageable, workable, and verifiable projects. As a result, barring unforeseeable catastrophes, the results of the projects that they support are almost always lasting and durable. You will hear of few large-scale, spectacular projects supported or initiated by D&P. The fruit of their labour is very modest, almost invisible, but its impacts are nonetheless huge. Just ask the people who have benefited from them in the last fifty years.
Given the scale of natural catastrophes and violence that have rocked our world in the recent past, D&P has had to compromise its fundamental objective, which is sustainable development, to render vast amounts of humanitarian aid. They have risen to the task, but without losing sight of their “raison-d’etre”, their fundamental vocation, which is to contribute to the world’s durable development. I find this immensely admirable.
For those who have heard horror stories about the overhead costs of aid and development agencies, I can tell you that for their fiscal year 2016-2017, D&P spent a total of 17% of their budget on governance, operations, and fixed costs. Everything else: 83% of their budget, was spent directly on international programmes (development programmes and humanitarian aide) and on In-Canada programmes (education and advocacy).
I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of space, and in any case, I think you get my point. Development and Peace is an institution of which we, as the Catholic Church in Canada, should be very proud. And supportive. There is no doubt at all in my mind that money spent on Development and Peace is money well-spent. May God continue to bless their ministry, and inspire you to be a part of it.