More than £2.6 million has been raised for a charity appeal to help women and children facing hunger, poverty and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf) raised £2.6 million, including £1.2 million of match funding from the UK Government, for its Lent 2020 Wee Box, Big Change appeal.
Decades of conflict have left a legacy of brutality and lawlessness in the eastern region of DR Congo, and sexual violence and rape are widespread.
The funds will help 4,000 extremely vulnerable women and girls affected by violence by providing them with medical care, trauma counselling, legal support to prosecute their attackers, and help so they and their families can become financially independent.
Thousands of people helped to raise the money by giving up a favourite treat, like coffee or chocolate, for the 40 days of Lent and donating the cash they saved in doing so.
Deacon Blue stars Lorraine McIntosh and Ricky Ross helped launch the appeal last year.
McIntosh said: “The scale and brutality of sexual violence in eastern DR Congo is extremely disturbing.
“The lives of thousands of women and their families are being torn apart.
“It was great to see how money given in Scotland is helping women get the medical treatment, trauma counselling, free legal aid and help to recover and support themselves and their families in the future.”
Sciaf director Alistair Dutton said: “We are extremely grateful for people’s generosity throughout Scotland, year after year, and especially that of schools and parishes during this difficult period.
“As the coronavirus crisis continues to maintain its hold, we are seeing increasingly vulnerable communities pushed deeper into poverty, undoing decades of progress.
“The funds will also help to provide urgent food, water and medical assistance and put in place measures to help minimise the spread of the virus and its impact on people’s livelihoods.
“We could not do this without the incredible generosity of the Scottish public.”
To find out more or to make a donation, go to www.sciaf.org.uk/weebox, or call 0141 354 5555.