BARONESS COX of Queensbury visited Stonyhurst College, Lancashire last week and talked about her work with the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), of which she is the chief executive.
Over the years Baroness Cox has travelled, often illegally and in danger, to Armenia, Burma, northern Nigeria, Sudan and North Korea to offer practical help (she is a trained nurse), moral support and prayer to some of the estimated 250 million people who are persecuted for their faith.
HART seeks to help persecuted and suffering people in parts of the world not reached by other agencies such as the UN or the Red Cross.
Many are taken into slavery. Baroness Cox said: “In the 21st century we should not have an estimated 27 million victims of various forms of slavery.” Her aim is to raise awareness of their plight and to lobby Government to do all it can to effect change.
She used the words of St Francis of Assisi to illus trate her belief in the importance of showing solidarity with the persecuted by actually being among them: “Pity weeps and turns away. Compassion weeps and holds out a hand.” A key aim of HART is to ask people directly what they need most so that the aid they supply is as effective as it can be. It may be food, medicines, livestock or Bibles. But whatever the practical need, the knowledge to the persecuted that someone in the world beyond knows and cares about them is of inestimable value, she said.
It was both humbling and inspiring to learn of some of the many individuals Baroness Cox has met in hidden corners of the world rarely reported on. They are people whose faith withstands huge pain and loss, who travel vast distances with little or nothing just to stay alive, and who continue to praise God with conviction and joy.
Andrew Johnson, headmaster of Stonyhurst, said: “We are very grateful to Baroness Cox for her illuminating and moving talk, and her generous engagement with our pupils. She even invited them to visit the House of Lords.”