Brendan Gilligan

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Fast opens Father’s eyes to food poverty

A priest from Clifton has stood in solidarity with those who live in poverty through fasting for six days while taking part in a Progressio fundraiser.

Fr Jim Williams, from the parish of St Lawrence and St Paul, took part in Progressio’s fundraising challenges ‘ZimFast’ and ‘ZimFare’, by fasting for six days on a nutritionally poor and repetitive Zimbabwean diet, and hosting a Zimbabwean-themed meal.

“I wanted to discover what it might be like to live with hunger as many millions do through no choice of their own,” said Fr Williams. “I know that six days is nothing compared to a lifetime, however I needed to do something to feel in solidarity with those who suffer hunger, and chose to do a task that would be genuinely testing.”

Seventy per cent of Zimbabweans live in extreme poverty, with millions confronted by severe food shortages.
Progressio works alongside local partners to support people in poor and marginalised communities to empower themselves, especially women.

“By fasting you are putting yourself on the line and helping yourself to understand how tough it is for other people,” explained novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce, who spoke at the ZimFare and ZimFast briefing event in the Liverpool Diocese. Along with his family, Mr Cottrell-Boyce raised £1,700 for Progressio last year in a similar fasting challenge. 

Fr Williams revealed that the fast opened up his eyes to how little is needed to live on but added that it was an uncomfortable challenge. “I discovered that one can live on 50 grammes of oats for breakfast, an onion and tomato for lunch and a piece of chicken with maize meal for supper, but it is not comfortable.
“For the first time I can remember I woke in the night with hunger pangs. Also, the lack of tea and coffee was absolutely horrible. It was an eye opener.”

At the end of his ZimFast challenge, he hosted a ZimFare lunch based on the same menu options offered for his ZimFast diet.
So far, Fr Williams has raised nearly £1,000 for Progressio.

• If you would like to support Fr Williams, you can make a donation on his JustGiving page at
www.justgiving.com/fundraising/James-Williams007  

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