Gillian Kingston, from Shinrone created a new festive tradition. Gillian is a retired teacher and UCD chaplain. She lives in Shinrone and is a member of the Methodist Church in Roscrea
A new festive tradition began in the Irish midlands this year when a Christian Aid Ireland supporter hung a bar of soap on her Christmas tree for the first time.
And in light of the fact that many people are keeping their Christmas trees and decorations up for longer to bring some cheer during Covid lockdown, maybe it's one for you to try.
This year, Gillian Kingston, who lives in Shinrone attached a piece of soap to the tree in the garden of her home in Shinrone, County Offaly - part of a campaign by the charity to celebrate the life-saving power of soap and to raise awareness of the millions who still lack easy access to soap and water.
Regularly washing your hands with soap is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, however an estimated 3 billion people, 40% of the world’s population, don’t have soap and water in their homes.
As part of its global coronavirus response, Christian Aid has so far managed to distribute soap to nearly 250,000 people in 18 countries as part of their effort to prevent the virus spreading in some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
Rosamond Bennett, Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland thanked Gillian for taking part in the campaign. She explained: “While we all wait for the coronavirus vaccine, the humble bar of soap remains one of the best ways to help keep us safe by preventing the spread of the virus. However, the reality is that far too many of the world’s poorest families don’t have the basics like soap and water at home to help keep them safe. As a Christmas decoration, soap is a sign of hope that we can beat both the virus and extreme poverty.”
Soap plays an important role in helping fight poverty too. In Ethiopia, as well as the impact of coronavirus, the climate crisis is increasing the risk of drought and famine, which is pushing farming communities further into poverty. Christian Aid is providing women with the tools they need to run a successful soap-making business. Mother-of-three Kumana Kurasho (26) has been trained in soap-making by Christian Aid using the drought-resistant aloe vera plant native to the area which thrives where other crops fail. For more information, check out http://caid.ie/SoapMaker