Earlier this year, the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev John Hind, went on a fact finding tour of Senegal with Christian Aid. Andy Jackson asked him about the trip.
What was the purpose of the trip to Senegal?
To see for ourselves the effects of unfair trade on the lives of people in Senegal.
What were your first thoughts of the country as you stepped off the plane?
It was very busy at the airport. But it was nice and warm, even at 11 o’clock at night having left a very cold Heathrow airport on the Monday morning. It was dark driving into Dakar and so I did not get a feel for the place until Tuesday morning.
What did you learn about the country and its people from the trip?
Where do I begin? I learnt so much during the six days. It was my first visit to Africa and I was very eager to meet lots of people. It was good to see the poverty at first hand.
Did the trip change your views about trade justice?
It has strengthened my resolve to campaign for changes in UK and EU policies.
Did you eat Thieboudienne [ Senegal’s national dish of fish, tomatoes, rice and onions]? If so, what did you really think of it?!
I did and thoroughly enjoyed it. Delicious!
What was the reaction to you as a church leader from the people you met?
They were very gracious and welcoming. I particularly enjoyed the warm welcome we received from the Imams at the Great Mosque in Dakar.
Is trade justice a spiritual issue, and if so, what should churchgoers do about it?
It is a part of gospel imperative to 'Love your neighbour'. We live in an increasingly small world and now realise how much we need each other for peace and protection of the environment. Making such that our fellow human beings have the same opportunities is part of that calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
All that the people of Senegal wanted was a fair chance to help themselves. The richer countries are making it harder for them to survive. They are getting poorer and it must not be allowed to continue.
What were the best and worst parts of the trip?
The best: The people and the food!
The worst: Only being there for a few days.
What did you think about on the return leg of your trip?
In ten year’s time you’ll go back to Senegal. What do you hope to see then?
That the people in Senegal have the opportunities to help themselves. Also, that trade justice reforms will allow the people of third world countries to improve their living conditions.