PEOPLE living in poverty now have one million reasons to say thankyou to churchgoers.
Members of Wakefield diocese have raised £1m for to help their poorer neighbours in the Tanzanian region of Mara in the 20 years the two have been twinned.
The money has set up vital health projects tackling Aids and HIV, clean water supplies and mosquito nets.
It has set up a secondary school, brought oxen and established other farming projects, put roofs on churches, established a cathedral and paid for government and municipal health workers to be properly trained in England.
And yesterday the Bishop of Mara, Bishop Hilkiah Omindo, preached in Wakefield Cathedral as part of a special celebration service to mark both the 20th anniversary of the church link and the forthcoming Lambeth Conference.
Bishop Hilkiah said: “The Wakefield-Mara link has been a fountain of blessings for Mara. It has benefited not only the church but the local community and the Tanzanian Government.
“We have learned to work as a team, although we have different cultures and economic powers.
“We have managed to establish permanent structures like Issenye Secondary School, Mara Cathedral, parish church and vicarage buildings.
“We have been able to train priests and evangelists and form new parishes.
“In 1988 we had 24 parishes. Today we have 103 parishes, thanks to Wakefield.”
The link, set up in 1988 by Bishop David Hope, has been hailed as one of the most successful church links in the country.
The Bishop of Wakefield, Dr Stephen Platten, said he was staggered at the amount of money people gave to Mara.
He and Bishop Hilkiah recommitted their two diocese to each other when they signed a specially commissioned scroll in Wakefield Cathedral after the thanksgiving and celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Wakefield Mara link yesterday.