Painting a picture of El Salvador life

by Gemma Salter, primary schools resources writer

Geography was always one of my favourite subjects at school. I loved learning about new places and cultures, immersing myself in an entirely different context. Having specialised in Geography during my teacher training, I am always looking for new material to inspire children to start this journey of love too.

When I travelled to El Salvador earlier this year, I heard first-hand from children what their life is like there. It inspired me to share stories from this intriguing country with others.

Jacqueline with her family - Puentecitos, El Salvador - CAFOD

Jacqueline with her family


One village CAFOD currently works in is ‘Puentecitos’, which means ‘little bridges’. It is a couple of hours’ drive to the west of the capital San Salvador. The landscape here is beautiful; the river Metal meanders through the village, and there are several bridges and footpaths to cross. Steep hillsides and volcanoes rise in the distance.

Puentecitos is a place rich in community spirit. Sharing is a big part of life here, with neighbours teaching each other to grow crops, women coming together to share skills, and the Church caring for sick and elderly people in the community.

But Puentecitos is also one of the poorest regions in the country. Three out of four families here have no clean water and most houses are made of mud bricks. Finding work is a big problem, with many people moving away to the cities to find jobs. Picking coffee is one way to make a living, but the steep and rocky landscape makes farming difficult. Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD, Connect2, Connect2ElSalvador, Education, El Salvador

Climate change and Kitui: How we’re working to turn the tide

by Antony Mbandi, Director of Caritas Kitui

Climate change has no borders, it has no boundaries and it doesn’t need a visa. It’s something that, at some point in our lives, if not already, will affect all of us.

I shared this thought when I met with CAFOD supporters across the UK last month. I told them about the challenges we are experiencing in Kenya, especially in the diocese of Kitui where I live. I also gave them information on how they can help us to tackle the myriad of problems we’ve been facing, including issues around food and water shortages – both of which are a result of climate change.

Antony Mbandi, Director of Caritas Kitui - CAFOD

Antony Mbandi, Director of Caritas Kitui

Climate change in Kenya

A decade ago, though our diocese was in an almost infertile area, we were able to predict and plan effectively for our food needs to a certain extent. But today Kitui is, simply put, a dry place. One of the main problems that people face is a lack of water, due to increased frequency of droughts. These droughts are getting worse and worse because of climate change. In my role as Director of Caritas Kitui, we’ve had to increase some of our projects so that we can try and reduce the problems we’re having. Water is core to our faith, and by sharing water we are sharing our faith.

Find out how you can share your faith >>

Climate change has a domino effect, impacting on many different areas of everyday life. For us in Kitui, the critical issues are getting enough food and water. As a result of climate change, the land in Kitui has become dry and barren, leaving people unable to grow their own produce. But we have a plan to rejuvenate the land and the water supply as part of a two-year collaborative project with CAFOD called Hands On. The project involves restoring a huge dam, planting thousands of trees, building a new network of mini dams and many more activities, providing the community with water close to their homes and better-quality soil for planting crops. Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD, Kenya

World Humanitarian Day

by Patrick Nicholson, Director of Communications for Caritas International

A boy walks at Dalhmieh Syrian refugee camp near Zahle, Bekaa valley, Lebanon - CAFOD.

A boy walks at a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon.

“Children were dying of hunger. There was no milk to feed newborn babies,” says Amal, a 27-year-old mother who recently fled from Damascus.

“People were eating cats and dogs. We were boiling grass in water to make it go further. You hated the day because there was nothing to eat and you hated the night because there was nothing to eat.”

While the media focuses on the plight of people in Iraq and Gaza, Syrians continue to flee the war in their country, crossing the border to Lebanon and other neighbouring countries. Even if it is to face a life of uncertainty as a refugee, they say they have no choice because they have to save their children.

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“They’ve lost everything, not just their homes and their belongings, but their self worth,” says Laurette Challita, an aid worker for CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. “Our job is to give them back their dignity; to give the refugees control of their own lives.”

The refugees live in makeshift tented camps, abandoned buildings or apartments, for those who can still afford it. They need to pay for rent, electricity, food and water. The children need to go to school, mothers need to give birth in hospitals and older people need medical help. Continue reading

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Filed under CAFOD, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria

Praying for rain in Sebeya


Praying for rain

Members of the community praying for rain outside Holy Trinity Catholic Church

For Sebeya farmers, rain is crucial to grow cereal and vegetable crops every year. A little rain in June helps the farmers start preparing farmland, such as plowing the land, and the main rainy month in July is when the famers plant their crops. The rain is then expected to continue in August and September.

However, this year’s rain is extremely in short supply for the farmers. Children and mothers in Sebeya are praying for the rain every day. They present themselves inside and outside Catholic and Orthodox Churches praying for rain. They pray ‘egzihomarene Kristos’, which means ‘O! Jesus Christ, please forgive our trespasses’.

Abba Solomon, the parish priest of Sebeya Holy Trinity Catholic Church speaking about the lack of rain, says:

Normally July is the green month in Sebeya as rain is available. But it is now like in the middle of the dry season – very arid and dusty. I have never seen such a bad drought in recent years. As the planting season is passing, it is very unlikely for the farmers to plant and have harvest for the following season.

My brothers and sisters in England and Wales, I was glad to see you during my recent visit to different parishes. I was amazed by your effort to support people in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

I pray for my people, Lord

You saved this people

Because of your deep love

May you forgive us and remember us

During this depression and suffering.

Let us pray for each other. Please keep Sebeya and my people in your prayers.”

However, while farmers depend completely on rain for agriculture, underground water is used for drinking and sanitation. Recently, two clean water facilities for drinking have been renovated in the villages  of Argit and Adi Ezana, in Sebeya. These are hand-pump type water facilities, which will be used by 300 people in nearly 60 households, who will now have access to a clean, drinking water supply.

To sign your parish up to Connect2: Ethiopia and hear more from the community in Sebeya visit:


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Filed under CAFOD, Connect2, Connect2Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Farming, fundraising

Connect2: Brazil: “This was truly a job of partnership and sharing”


The community in Verguerinho, a favela in south east São Paulo, decided to come together for a day,  to work together to improve the living conditions for local residents in Verguerinho.  The party of 50, which was made up of members of the local parish, and municipality, and supported by the local government, carried out maintenance of the area around the Machado stream, which flows behind Verguerinho.

Speaking about the day, Zeza, from MDF (Movement for the Defence of Favelas), said:

“We planted 110 trees, picked up litter and went from house to house, giving out leaflets to raise awareness about not throwing rubbish in the stream. This was truly a job of partnership and sharing.”

Also in attendance was the deputy mayor, who said he was going to organise for the stream to be cleaned, which will benefit a neighbourhood of many residents.

To find out more about the Connect2: Brazil community and to sign up your parish visit:


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Filed under Brazil, CAFOD, Connect2, Connect2Brazil, fundraising