Saturday was a beautiful autumnal day. The sky was blue, conditions were dry, perfect for the potato harvest. I joined my brother Trevor and the team in a field, with magnificent views of the Mourne Mountains, as we set out to bring in the crop of Marquis potatoes.
Now potato harvesting has come a long way, even from my younger days. It was the spinner back then, and you bent over to fill the plastic baskets once the drill had been dispersed. My father, John, usually drove the tractor. Every now and again, your tonne box or sometimes half a tonne box, would be moved closer to the drills. Back then, it felt like ages to fill up a box. By the time you had a tonne done, it was usually home time.
Now, the potato harvester has replaced some of the back breaking work and has speeded things up considerably! That is of course if all works well in the land of machinery. We had some technical hitches, which required attention of spanners and good old cable ties. The Reekie Clean Flow 2150 dug out two drills at once, the potatoes bounced up an elevator into tonne boxes on the trailor after stones were separated out by yours truly and fellow co-workers in the canopy area at the back. The potatoes came in abundance, a delight to see for the champ loving girl that I am. An afternoons work saw us harvest 32 tonnes – not bad for a manpower of six and some John Deere horsepower.
On Sunday it was our Harvest Thanksgiving weekend in church. The Presbyterian church I attend in Rathfriland was beautifully adorned with fruit, flowers, vegetables and decorations to demonstrate all the good things we enjoy as a result of harvest- there was even a toy tractor in the window with a load of spuds on!
As I reflected on my day in the potato field and the wealth of flowers and decorations in the church, I couldn’t help but think of South Sudan.
Back in June, when I was working at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s General Assembly, Rev Peter Gai Lual, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan told a story that made me, a farmers daughter, very sad. He told of how the conflict in his country has laid to the displacement of over 5 million people. Due to the conflict, crops were not planted as people have been exiled from their homes and their land. Imagine that? Not being able to plant crops and being forced to flee your home. With not much baggage and no prospect of food. Add to that the rainy season leaving muddy conditions and you have the dreadful threat of Cholera into the mix.
So why have we not heard about this in the news? Various crises in Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine and Syria and even an independence referendum in Scotland has dominated the foreign and national UK news agenda lately.
Quoted in the Presbyterian Herald, Rev Uel Marrs said, “We’re talking about a situation with the potential magnitude of the famine in Ethiopia in the past. The aid agencies have said around 5 million people in South Sudan could end up months from now suffering from malnutrition, hunger, cholera and disease.
“My personal fear is that this story will not really come to the fore until it’s too late, and until people are dying in their thousands through hunger, with children in particular suffering so much. We need to wake up to this major crisis.”
The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr Michael Barry, launched a special appeal for South Sudan in August. Monies raised will go towards the work of Tearfund and Christian Aid as well as support the Relief and Development Agency of the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan.
If you have enjoyed a good harvest – in your field, in your business, in your bank balance – please consider giving some of it to help the poor and needy in South Sudan. Before it’s too late. I will, will you?
You can donate online via the Moderator’s appeal here
Thanks for reading and thank you in advance for your generous giving.
This article was written by purplerain