Humanitarian, peace envoy and former hostage, Terry Waite, CBE, brought together two of the charities he has helped found – Emmaus and Y Care International last week – helping them raise nearly £1,000 in just one day for Pakistan flood victims.
Terry Waite is President of Emmaus, a charity which supports homeless people in the UK by providing accommodation in 19 communities around the country and work experience in Emmaus shops to help the residents – known as ‘companions’ – rebuild their skills and confidence.
He is also president of Y Care International which he founded 26 years ago. Y Care International is the YMCA’s international relief and development agency which works across the developing world to respond to the needs disadvantaged young people. Its Pakistan Floods Appeal is raising money to provide shelter and support to thousands of families in the affected areas.
In an act of solidarity with the poor and homeless in Pakistan, the Emmaus companions at St Albans decided to donate the proceeds of the day’s sales of furniture at their secondhand shop to the appeal.
“One of the great things about the work of Emmaus is it enables people to have hope – and what they’re trying to do here today is practical and symbolic. The companions are saying: ‘We’ve been given hope ourselves, we’d like to give hope to others’,” said Terry Waite, who joined the fundraising effort by chatting to customers, local press and working on the till.
“We knew the money would get where it is meant to go with Y Care International because Terry has talked about the charity’s work with such conviction,” said Tim Fox, General Manager of Emmaus St Albans. “We knew he’d make sure it got to the people who need it.”
Y Care International launched an emergency appeal to help support the flood victims in Pakistan soon after the devastation became apparent. Working with YMCA partners in Pakistan and also through Action by Churches Together which supports local community organisations in the flood regions, money raised is going towards providing adequate shelter, blankets, warm clothes, and other winter items to help the affected population survive the harsh winter. An estimated seven million people will be homeless for some time according to recent predictions.
Y Care International’s partner on the ground is also organising debris clearing, distribution of construction materials and household goods to families and seeds to help families start growing their own food again and restoring livelihoods.
“What’s most inspirational about Y Care is – we’re not in the business of sending over experts from here to there, we’re in the business of supporting people in their locality to enable them to be agents of their own development, to support them with whatever it is,” says Mr Waite, who is still actively involved in the charity’s work as well as other humanitarian causes.
“Pakistan is in a dreadful state and the more that can be done at every level to give them support the better. It is a human tragedy, a terrible tragedy,” he continued.
“When you think in terms of seven million of people without a home – well the numbers roll off the top of our head because we can’t grasp the enormity of it. But if we were to translate it to this country and it the whole of London was homeless and depending on whatever charity there was – then it would be a different matter – we’d be up in arms wouldn’t we?”
“The fact that the people involved in Emmaus chose to do this is very inspiring,” said Chris Roles, Chief Executive of Y Care International.
“The Emmaus companions have very little income themselves and run the Emmaus shops to support their communities, yet they chose to donate this money to people worse off than themselves, which is a wonderful act of generosity.”
“Immediate relief is still needed in Pakistan, particularly with the winter approaching, so all the funds they raised will be saving lives.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Terry Waite co-founded Y Care International in 1984, serving first as Chair, and now as President.
He joined the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Private Staff in 1980 and in the early 1980s he successfully negotiated the release of several hostages from Iran and Libya, which brought him to the public’s attention.
In January 1987, while negotiating for the release of Western hostages in Lebanon, he himself was taken captive and remained in captivity for 1,763 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement.
After his release, in November 1991, he dedicated himself to study, writing, lecturing and humanitarian activities.
2. Y Care International is the international development and relief agency of the YMCA movement in the UK and Ireland, working in partnership with YMCAs across the developing world to help young people build alternatives to a future of poverty and disadvantage.
3. Y Care International is well placed to respond to emergencies, as local YMCAs’ local knowledge and ability to mobilise quickly and effectively is invaluable in coordinating an emergency response.
4. As well as supporting relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation work when there is human emergency and natural disaster, Y Care International supports long-term development programmes in 20 countries worldwide.