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A moving message from Yeb Saño

9 January 2014 | by Clare Fussell 

This week we received a moving and heartfelt message from Yeb Saño, who was the head of the Philippines delegation at the United Nations Climate Change talks in Warsaw in November.

He wrote to personally thank you for your support in fasting and praying for climate action during the global climate negotiations.   

Yeb Sano among a crowd of people

Yeb Saňo among a crowd of journalists and supporters. Credit: CAN International

Yeb made headlines all over the world by fasting for the entire duration of the two-week summit in Poland. He did this to take a stand against the ‘climate madness' of rich nations refusing to reduce their carbon emissions.

Yeb had just witnessed his country being devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, and despaired that world leaders continually failed to reach a fair, binding agreement to tackle climate change when so many lives are at stake.

Tens of thousands of activists all over the world joined him in fasting and praying for action from our leaders to ensure a clean, safe future for us all. Hundreds of Christian Aid supporters were among them.

Yeb's message to you

On behalf of the people of the Philippines, I wish to express our deepest gratitude to Christian Aid and its supporters for standing in solidarity with us as we confront one of the most difficult moments in our history in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Thank you for the prayers you have offered for us, the generosity of your constituents, the actual presence of Christian Aid partners on the ground in the communities affected by the disaster, and all that Christian Aid has done for the Philippines even before the disaster.

  • It is with voices like yours that we become ever stronger.'

We likewise thank you for joining us in our action of fasting within the duration of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November last year.

It is deeply moving to know that members of the organisation and your supporters stood strongly with the plight of people around the world affected by climate change.

I have expressed many times before that the strength of my voice lies in the collective strength of the voices around the world crying out for climate justice.

It is with voices like yours that we become ever stronger.

One of the most touching and inspiring aspects of the past year’s experience is that we stood witness to how the spiritual aspect of the climate change issue had been brought to the fore.

We have had many conversations with dear colleagues from Christian Aid here in the Philippines regarding the relevance of Christian Aid’s work to the international climate negotiations, as Christian Aid has graciously extended much support to the Philippine Delegation over the years, and on many occasions we find the international multilateral climate negotiations very frustrating to say the least.

  • My family's lives will never be the same again.'

For me, this question has been laid to rest in Warsaw.

It is precisely the human condition and the moral aspect of climate change that makes it very clear that organisations like Christian Aid and its constituent communities have a very big stake in this crucial endeavour aimed at averting the climate crisis.

We are exceptionally inspired and enthused no end that the inter-faith and church communities, together with many civil society organisations, have fervently embraced this call for climate action and climate justice.

This planetary awakening is profoundly uplifting and amazing.

Before the Warsaw conference, my family led a very simple life. Today, we still do. But our lives will never be the same again.

We have been thrust into a position of responsibility to continue being the voice for the voiceless and lead this struggle for a more just and equitable world.

This is why it means a lot to us that you at Christian Aid and many others walk with us in this amazing but arduous journey.

  • Prayers from millions of people standing with the Philippines have buoyed us through.'

The prayers you have offered and have asked others to offer while we were coming to terms with the catastrophe back home - and at the same time in the thick of the climate negotiations in Warsaw - have been a great source of strength for us.

It still never ceases to amaze me how we managed to endure two weeks without food, and not merely endure but stand tall in high spirits with an unforgiving workload and difficult negotiating sessions.

And then, each day, we discover wonderful acts of kindness - like the statements of support on the Christian Aid website and blog sites written by your colleagues at the height of the fast.

We realise that the prayers from millions of people standing with the Philippines have buoyed us through.

This is particularly wonderful because we have always regarded the fast as part of a spiritual journey that the world must go through to end this madness.

It is very humbling and deeply touching to see that many people from different walks of life now realise that the planetary crisis reflects a deep moral crisis in each one of us and that to confront the global problem means to confront ourselves.

  • I am honoured to be walking with you on this journey.'

I believe that it does not matter whether my name is remembered, as I am merely an instrument of this cause and of divine justice. What matters most is that people embrace and embark on this global awakening.

Certainly, the road ahead will be extremely difficult, both for the lives of people affected by climate change and any kind of injustice, and for this ambitious endeavour to save the planet.

I am honoured to be walking with you on this journey.

We are eternally grateful for your prayers and solidarity.

About the author

Clare Groves

Clare Fussell is a campaigns officer for Christian Aid

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