Byline: GERI GLOVER Christian Aid Ireland
THERE are certain things you can guarantee will happen in the month of May.
School exams will begin, as will the inevitable exam weather, warm, long sunny days.
The May bank holiday brings the first taste of summer, and the football season concludes with the awarding of the FA Cup.
Another thing guaranteed in May is that people across Ireland and the UK will display their unwavering generosity as the famous red Christian Aid Week envelope is delivered to millions of homes by over 300,000 collectors.
Last year, more than pounds 13 million was raised in the seven days, of which over pounds 500,000 was collected in Northern Ireland alone, a fantastic amount by any standard.
In the past week, millions of people will have given their spare change in the envelope - so what happens next?
Christian Aid is the official relief and development agency of over 40 church denominations in Ireland and the UK, and works in around 60 countries across the developing world.
Helping communities where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, Christian Aid provides people with the resources they need to solve the problems of poverty.
We work with local people in local organisations - our partners - in order to help their communities become self-sufficient. Christian Aid works with our partners on long-term development projects, which assess the needs of the moment and those of the future also.
Every effort in Christian Aid Week changes the lives of those in developing countries. The money raised goes towards supporting this long-term development throughout the year and ensures that Christian Aid's partners can continue their hard work.
However, it could be said there are 365 emergencies every year, for every day in the developing world, people struggle to find basic healthcare, food, shelter and education.
When a disaster occurs such as a hurricane or a volcanic eruption, these difficulties are exacerbated.
Christian Aid Week ensures that the organisation can respond instantly in these situations, providing initial grants for emergency relief.
One such emergency took place in Honduras in October 1998. The winds and rain of Hurricane Mitch tore through the country, destroying everything in their path.
At the time, the Northern Irish public were very generous and, through Christian Aid, 46 tons of goods were shipped off in Fyffes banana boats. However, when the TV cameras and newspapers left, the country was still struggling even though the 'disaster' was deemed to be over.
In February of this year, Margaret Boden, General Secretary of Christian Aid Ireland visited Honduras and saw how, even three-and-a-half years on, the effects of Hurricane Mitch …