A Kinross-shire church elder who has returned from an eye-opening visit to earthquake-hit Nepal has urged Scots not to be cynical about foreign aid in the wake of recent charity scandals.
David Chisholm, an elder at Fossoway St Serf’s and Devonside Church, was part of a delegation of 18 Church of Scotland members to the south Asian country.
They were given the chance to see reconstruction work following a 7.8 magnitude quake three years ago, which claimed the lives of 9,000 people.
The kirk’s World Mission Council is helping thousands of families rebuild their communities in some of the worst affected regions.
Church of Scotland members have donated more than £310,000 towards work led by the United Mission to Nepal (UMN). The project involves the reconstruction of 72 schools, as well as installing water supplies and reinstating 33 miles of roads.
Mr Chisholm, whose congregation raised £1,500 to fund three new houses, urged people not to be deterred from donating to charities in the wake of scandals at Oxfam and Save the Children.
“You still question the validity of any appeal, but in this instance it is absolutely superb,” he said.
“In Nepal, there has been a long association with the Church of Scotland, it is a mature relationship and both organisations have a deep understanding of each other.
“Supporting a charity is a personal choice, but I do think you have to be – if not sceptical – then selective and have an understanding of the background.”
He said: “It was heartening to see we are supporting an organisation which is delivering good work on the ground and hope for the people.
“It is particularly good to see this at a time when charity organisations are under close scrutiny. It is truly gratifying to see that the staggering sum of money raised by people in Scotland is being put to such good use.”
Also on the trip was Hannah Dunlop, an elder at Dalgety Parish Church in Fife.
She said: “Being able to see how people in the mountains live was a unique experience.
“I got the impression that most people are not feeling sorry for themselves at all and are just getting on and working together to do what they need to do.”
John Hafvenstein, director of UMN, said Church of Scotland money was making a “tremendous, transformational difference” in the Dhading region.
He said he understood why some were cynical about foreign aid following recent charity scandals.
“We have seen there are good reasons to have safeguards in the international aid process,” he said. “But that should not be reasons for cynicism and when you investigate some of the work, you will see there is tremendous good being done in countries like Nepal.”