Belfast’s Black Santa, Dean John Mann, will travel to India in November to see how funds raised on the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral each Christmas are making a difference to lives far away.
Dean Mann and his wife Helen will visit a number of Christian Aid projects. They will be accompanied by Rosamond Bennett, newly appointed Chief Executive of Christian Aid, and Deborah Doherty, Head of Church and Community with the charity.
When he distributed cheques totalling £180,000 at the annual Good Samaritans’ Service last February, the Dean expressed a desire to visit some of the projects which had received funding for the charitable work they do.
Christian Aid, which is supported by Black Santa for its work overseas, extended an invitation to Dean Mann and his wife to view some of the work the organisation is doing in India.
The group will leave Belfast on November 14, arriving in Delhi the following day where the Dean is scheduled to visit the Christian Aid offices in the city and get an overview of the charity’s India programme.
They fly to Tamil Nadu the following day. Here the group will visit two Christian Aid partners.
The first partner, SASY, works on Dalit human rights and the economic empowerment of Dalit women. The second partner, Arogya Agam, is a project focused on HIV prevention and the prevention of parent to child HIV transmission. There is also the possibility of a trip to Bangalore to view a similar project.
On November 20, the group will travel to Andrapradesh to visit two partners. COVA works with Muslim women, and DDS is a project working with Dalit women and agriculture
“Heading to India is something that Helen and I have dreamt of doing for a long time, but to go with Christian Aid will be very special as we visit projects supported through the gifts of many fundraisers and personal donors in Ireland,” said Dean Mann.
“The Black Santa fund has contributed to this important work over a number of years – so I shall be wearing that hat as I learn where the money is being spent. Scarf and gloves and black cloak will not be needed – it will be hot!”
Dean Mann said he was looking forward to this year’s Sit–Out which begins on Saturday December 15.