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Junior Church

In our Advent Newsletter I wrote about the work that the children and young people had been doing to raise money for Sight Savers and how pleased we all were with the success of the project. Now there is even better news! By the end of the year that total had risen to a magnificent £1,000. Russell Richards of Sight Savers had hoped to join us at our Christmas Gift Service to receive the cheque personally but unfortunately he was unable to attend at the last minute for family reasons. However we have since received a letter from him thanking the children for their wonderful contribution and explaining how it will make a difference to the lives of others in the Third World.

Prompted by a number of conversations with members of our Church, I thought I might say a little more about the work of Sight Savers.

Throughout the developing world Sight Savers International works with local groups to improve the lives of those suffering from eye diseases. A lot of their work is in the prevention of eye disease e.g. they aim to treat 4 million people a year to protect them against River Blindness. This disease is caused by the simulium fly which breeds in the riverside lands in West and Central Africa. These tiny black flies bite people and by doing so they spread a microscopic parasitic worm which can, over time, lead to blindness. A once yearly dose of a medicine called Mectizan can stop River Blindness. The cost of giving a tablet is just 12p a year. It means that £2.40 protects one person against River Blindness for 20 years! Better yet, £60 buys a bicycle for a health worker to ensure effective distribution of the medicine and £45 can protect a whole village for a year.

Sight Savers also work with those who are already blind. They have developed partnerships on the ground in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean that are enabling blind pupils to take their place alongside their sighted friends. Sight Savers help to provide the extra assistance needed, including Braille books, specialist visiting teachers and equipment for writing, drawing and maths. Did you know that it takes 2.5 large Braille pages to reproduce one page of a primary school book? That each Braille book costs £9 and that £582 ensures a blind pupil will have a basic set of Braille books for primary education?

It’s good to know that the contribution raised by Junior Church will have such a positive impact on the lives of others. We really couldn’t have raised such a large amount without the help, encouragement and support of our Church Family, and I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Junior Church, to say a huge thank you to all those who helped in such a wide variety of ways. We’ve set ourselves a “big act” to follow in 2006 but the children have really enjoyed supporting Sight Savers and are looking forward to this year’s challenge.

With the New Year in mind, we are already thinking about and planning our special services and activities for 2006. In line with tradition the Primary, Beginners and Juniors started the New Year with a visit to the pantomime at the Carver Theatre. This year we saw “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The pantomime was excellent and we all had a really enjoyable afternoon.

On 5 February our Seniors and Young People once again brought forward their Anniversary contribution and led our Family Service. Based on material they had been studying just before Christmas, the theme was based on the gift of creativity and how we can use this for good and how easy it is to also abuse it. The service was planned by the young people themselves and was a powerful blend of drama, dance and music with a clear and thought provoking message. Thank you to all involved in the preparation and presentation of this act of worship.

Mothering Sunday is on 26 March this year and again we are planning to make this a Family Service which will be lead by Jackie Ambler with contributions from the children and young people. We look forward to seeing you at the service.

As usual the Primary, Beginners and Juniors will be leading morning worship on Sunday 21 May. This year’s theme is yet to be decided but rehearsals will begin shortly before Easter.

Other dates to pencil in your diaries are our First Steps Service on 25 June and a fund raising event on Sunday 2 July. This will probably be a Garden Party and there will be more details about this and our chosen charity nearer the time.

Thank you for your continued support for the work that we do with the children and we look forward to seeing you at our services throughout the year.

Hazel Meakin
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