Typhoon Hagupit: lessons learned a year after Typhoon Haiyan

By Nick Harrop, World News Officer

Late on Saturday 6 December, Typhoon Hagupit hit the Philippines. Strong winds, flooding and landslides destroyed homes, farmland and lives. One year after Typhoon Haiyan caused such catastrophic devastation, families had only just begun to repair the damage. But, thankfully, this year’s typhoon wasn’t as strong, and because more than a million people were safely evacuated before the typhoon hit, the loss of life was far lower than during Typhoon Haiyan.

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Typhoon Haiyan: Ronald’s story

Ronald, Philippines, CAFODRonald Abao, who lives in Palo, vividly remembers his experience of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. He was looking after his wife Maria Gracia in hospital.

“At 5:45 in the morning, some of the roof was blown off,” he remembers, “and the rain started falling inside the hospital. By 6:00 the water was up to our knees. The wind became stronger and broken glass was flying around. People were panicking.”

At 6:30 the hospital was hit by the storm surge: fast-flowing water came crashing into the ward. Ronald picked up Maria Gracia and carried her on his back, struggling through the flood. Ronald carried Maria Gracia from room to room, hoping to find some way to climb up onto what was left of the hospital roof. Finally, in the last room he came to, he found a ladder. Continue reading

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World Gifts create a buzz this Christmas

Ben Price currently stars as Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street, and has acted as an ambassador for a number of CAFOD’s campaigns and appeals.

My Christmas list this year is slightly unusual. Instead of the customary socks, books and DVDs, I’m asking for a camel, a donkey and a couple of chirpy chickens. It may sound like I’m planning to set up my own farm, but actually, these are all gifts which feature in CAFOD’s World Gifts range of alternative presents.

World Gifts in Uganda

Earlier this year I travelled to Karamoja – in rural Uganda – where I met communities who have benefitted from World Gifts and saw firsthand the difference this scheme can make to the lives of people living in poverty.

Ben Price with beekeeper Paul, Uganda, CAFOD

Ben Price with beekeeper Paul

Greener than many of its neighbours, and home to both the highest mountain range in Africa and the source of the mighty Nile, Winston Churchill famously described Uganda as the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Unlike much of the country, however, due to its harsh climate and low annual rainfall, the Karamoja region is predominantly a semi-arid plain – causing many problems for the communities who live there.

Time and again during my trip I met people who were struggling to feed themselves because of ongoing drought. Most of those I spoke to were farmers but the lack of rain meant they were no longer able to cultivate crops or keep animals.

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CAFOD and its partner Caritas Moroto are working in the area to make sure the most vulnerable people have enough clean water to drink and food to eat. They’re helping families to grow more crops using drought-resistant seeds and to increase their household income by selling surplus produce at market. For communities whose traditional work – like cattle rearing – is under threat, they’re ensuring long-term development by providing innovative ways for families to earn a sustainable income. Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD, Uganda, World Gifts

Remembering Mandela with director Justin Chadwick

Behind the Scenes: Remembering Mandela with Director Justin Chadwick

George Stride headshot

George Stride

George Stride is 22 years old. He lives in London and works in advertising.

On the 11 December, I attended CAFOD’s special ‘Remembering Mandela’ event for young adults – a screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, followed by a Q&A with the film’s award-winning director Justin Chadwick.

I was really excited about the evening, and it was a fantastic event. It was amazing to commemorate Nelson Mandela with the director of the film behind his life – a life that was complex and difficult, but lived with passion and an unswerving dedication to justice. As the compere for ‘Remembering Mandela’ said – what would the world look like now if Mandela had never taken a stand against apartheid?

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Filed under CAFOD, Education, greatgeneration, UK, youth action, Youth resources

Boxing Day tsunami: the lessons we have learned

Matthew Carter, CAFOD’s Humanitarian Director, reflects on the devastating events of 26 December 2004 and what we have learned in the decade since.

Please pray for all those whose lives were torn apart>>

27747On Boxing Day ten years ago, I was, like many people, taking a Christmas break. My family and I were staying in our normal Christmas hideaway – a very remote croft on the Isle of Skye. I remember texts coming in on my phone early in the morning from a friend and colleague in India saying there had been a massive tsunami. But it wasn’t until a few hours later that the scale of the disaster started to unfold.

I vividly remember coordinating the CAFOD response from a tiny attic bedroom in the cottage, set amongst a wild landscape and deep in snow. My three-year-old daughter sat downstairs next to a roaring fire, playing with her Christmas toys, while my son of just three weeks lay sleeping next to me. There was a sense of bizarre calmness, while on the other side of the world there was total destruction and appalling human loss. In the province of Aceh in Indonesia, over 170,000 people lost their lives.   Continue reading

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Filed under disaster, Emergency, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, tsunami

Connect2: El Salvador – Greetings from Puentecitos

In March last year, Fidel, Julia, Erasmo and Sandra from the Connect2 community of Puentecitos in El Salvador, visited parishes across England and Wales.

They send you this Christmas message:


“Dear friends,

Your gestures of solidarity are registered in our memories. Time and distance can’t change our feelings of friendship and we know that you will feel the hug that we send you. We are sure that, with every day that passes, God will allow you to radiate happiness and all the love that you know how to give, which are the fruit of your unconditional way of being to others. We would like to express our best wishes for your well being, health and happiness during this time of Christmas.

Fidel – Julia – Erasmo – Sandra”


mensaje a hermanas y hermanos de Inglaterra

To read more news and updates from the Connect2: El Salvador community in Puentecitos click here, and to find out how your parish can get involved visit: cafod.org.uk/connect2elsalvador.

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Filed under Connect2, Connect2ElSalvador, El Salvador, fundraising