I’ve never been really good at Lent, I love the reflection and thinking of others, but have never been really good at the fasting part. I hit a high point in year eight when I did at 24 hour fast for CAFOD Family Fast Day. However, I haven’t been too successful since. So I thought I would do things a bit differently this year and try the CAFOD Hungry for change Games challenge. Continue reading
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By Bernadette Taylor, CAFOD education volunteer.
On 3 April children in Year 5 at St. Mary’s RC Primary School, Swanage, presented speeches about CAFOD to local dignitaries of the town council, local representatives from Fair Trade, and their classmates from school.
The class prepared speeches as part of their ‘Speak up for CAFOD’ project. The topic was about giving a voice to people who are hungry as part of the Lent Dig Deep theme.
All of the speakers stood with dignity and poise, and presented their work clearly and with diction. Two 9 year olds, Amelia and Ruby, were selected as having the winning speech. They opened with:
‘Did you know that 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry every evening? Yet in this world we produce enough food for everyone to eat? The way food is produced and shared is not fair.’
They continued to list some of the reasons why people go hungry every day, and described how campaigning with CAFOD and buying Fairtrade makes a real difference.
They closed their very powerful talk by showing how their listeners can help make a difference:
‘You can support CAFOD as part of your community, speak out for others in your school and tell important people about supporting CAFOD. You could do this by fundraising or taking part in Lent Fast Day. Donate the money you save this Lent to CAFOD – change a life!’
Swanage Town Mayor, Ally Patrick, presented prizes to the speakers, and said she believed that there were many public speakers of the future here.
Fair Trade coffee, tea and cake were the enjoyed after the event, whilst the children mingled with the guests. The listeners in the audience were so impressed with the speakers that they organised an impromptu collection and donated £25.
As the CAFOD education volunteer who worked with this class to prepare the project, I can say that we are all so proud of what these children achieved and delivered.
Well done to everyone who took part. We are so proud of you.
Thank you to the class teacher, Mrs. Meteau and Head teacher, Mrs. Lake.
by Ben Price – Ben currently stars as Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street, and has acted as an ambassador for a number of our campaigns and appeals.
Climate change – no longer a distant prediction
The world over, we are seeing ever more cases of extreme weather, from the recent floods in the UK to wildfires in Australia. With each incident comes the familiar assurances that – this time – the necessary action will be taken to make sure there is no repeat.
The reality is we have no choice, as every country faces the fact that climate change – and its impact on the weather – is no longer a distant prediction, but a daily reality. And for the poorest people on the planet, the need to change is not just a matter of saving money, but saving lives. Never has the phrase ‘Adapt or Die’ been so apt.
Extreme weather in Uganda
In January I travelled 4,000 miles to the Ugandan village of Lomunyen Kiryonon, where they are battling to survive more extreme weather – this time prolonged drought. The rains have not come; the crops have failed; the people are close to starvation; and the arid plains grow ever drier under the burning sun.
The villagers are pastoralists, dependent on their livestock for food, for cultivating the land, and for earning an income. But the cattle are long gone: those not stolen by armed rustlers have died, the first victims of the drought conditions.
Now, their only source of money is making and selling charcoal, but they cannot earn enough from that to feed themselves, so their main source of food is wild, dried-out fruit growing in the distant hills. It is a downward spiral.
Paska and her baby
I meet a young mother named Paska, who every day must leave her four young children behind to go and forage for fruit, running the gauntlet of hyenas on their own search for food. She returns with some bone-dry figs and tamarind for the children to gnaw on, the only meal they will eat that day.
I ask the age of the small baby Paska holds in her arms, thinking he looks about nine months. She tells me he is two years old. I had been told in advance that 38 per cent of children aged under five in Uganda have stunted growth, but no statistic prepares you for meeting a child so small for his age, and seeing the cause – his lack of food – up close.
Hunger is cruel on young and old alike. I meet 78-year-old Otyang, so weakened by lack of food that he can barely stand up any more. He does what he can for the grandchildren that live with him, but his eyes are plagued with worry.
As we get ready to leave the village, I am assured by CAFOD’s local partners that – now the plight of the village has been realised – the next visit they receive will bring emergency food supplies, and eventually, Lomunyen Kiryonon will be helped to become self-sufficient again.
Nevertheless, driving away from Paska, Otyang and the many children they are looking after – literally leaving them on the brink of starvation – is one of the hardest things I have had to do, and I find myself despairing about whether the help they receive will come in time or be enough, or how many other villages there are in a similar state.
Long-term help and adaptation
But one of the reasons I am a long-term CAFOD supporter is that – working through local partners – they will always seek out the most remote and vulnerable communities to see where help is most needed. And their response is never just to hand out emergency aid and walk away, but to offer the long-term help and adaptation a community needs to avoid the next hunger crisis.
I see this for myself the next day in the village of Nakambi. They too are suffering from the lack of rain, but they now have a borehole and water pump so that they can collect clean, safe drinking water, and almost every household now has a kitchen garden where they grow drought-resistant cassava, peas, sunflowers and greens. The community’s farmers have been trained in new agricultural techniques to help them increase their harvest.
In another village, Naloret, I meet the community’s bee-keeping group, equipped with the skills needed to harvest honey, used as medicine, food, and a source of income when taken to market. The chairman of the group, Paul, tells me that farming had become impossible due to lack of rain, but bee-keeping now puts food on his family’s table.
CAFOD’s ‘Dig Deep’ Lent fundraising appeal is built around the idea that – with the right support – every farming community coping with challenges can adapt, survive and flourish. It is built on the principle that no village should be left to starve like Lomunyen Kiryonon; no mother should risk her life foraging for wild fruit like Paska; and no child should grow up stunted like Paska’s son.
Most of all, it is built on the compassion and generosity of people here at home who, perhaps more than ever in the wake of our floods, are alive to the reality of climate change, and aware of how it is affecting the poorest people in the world.
If we all Dig Deep this Lent, we can all make a difference.
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Ben’s blog was published in The Catholic Times and on The Huffington Post.
Sophie Harrington is CAFOD’s Diocesan Communications Officer for East Anglia. She joined Christine Walkden, Patrick Jamiru and a host of keen young gardeners for a day of digging deep in support of CAFOD’s Lent appeal.
It’s not every day you meet up with a TV gardener, some schoolchildren and an African charity worker to fight global hunger.
Clutching some cabbage seeds, we did just that at St Laurence’s Catholic Primary School in Cambridge to highlight CAFOD’s Dig Deep Lenten appeal.
The appeal reminds us that one in eight people in the world go hungry every day – but we CAN help.
The One Show’s gardening guru Christine Walkden shared her passion for plants with the children aged five to nine years old in the newly-formed gardening group.
She showed them exactly how to plant those cabbage seeds so they do the best they can.
Her visit coincided with that of CAFOD partner Patrick Jamiru from Sierra Leone, who came to the school to explain how – with their support to CAFOD – people in his region have transformed an abandoned diamond mine in fertile farmland. It’s helping people to overcome the hungry season in his country, which sees people struggle to find enough food for up to six months of the year.
Patrick encouraged the children to ‘dig deep’ with people in his own country and think how they can help the world’s poorest people.
He told them: “The land had been mined for diamonds in Sierra Leone and once they were not finding any, they went and left big holes with water in. They dug big, big holes and they had not filled their holes, they just left them like that.
“Our land is our mainstay and how we get our livelihood. To change it so that people could farm for themselves has helped them so much.”
He told the Cambridge pupils how children he knows, called Mohammed and Samai, have had their lives improved by the project. Even having the prospect of being able to attend school becoming a reality for them.
The children listened keenly and had a host of questions for both Patrick and Christine.
Christine told the young gardeners: “Without gardeners and farmers we would starve. It’s the gardeners and the farmers of the world that keep us alive. They also make the world beautiful. A gardener can make the world beautiful and grow food and what a privilege that is.”She added: “Growing plants is the same as growing people. What it requires is tender loving care. Without it neither will grow, develop and bloom.
“The children here today were very interested, very engaged and enquiring. It’s important that children know in this country how to grow food. We take so much for granted. It’s important for children to realise that there are places in the world where people do not have enough food to live.”
Teacher Barbara Quail said the visitors had both inspired her and the children.
Mrs Quail said: “We are the opposite to the children in Sierra Leone in some ways. We have enough food grown and we are now trying to help the children redevelop those skills that they have lost because the supermarkets sell everything they need. They should know where their food comes from and how lucky they are. How they can help others who are not so fortunate has been really brought to life to them.”
CAFOD volunteer, Mary Watkins, said: “I think it is an excellent project. It’s very exciting for the children to be involved in and important for them to learn where their fundraising goes. Patrick has been able to tell them first-hand.”
“I have helped at the school with CAFOD for about seven years and I know this is an experience the children will remember. It always amazes me what they remember from previous visits when we have told them about CAFOD’s work.”
Hopefully some seeds for thought were also planted that day.
The event brought press attention with Cambridge News and BBC Cambridgeshire Radio attending and playing a part in highlighting the scandal of global hunger.
Tomorrow is Lent Fast Day. This year CAFOD is asking you to dig deep for children and families around the world who don’t have enough to eat – children like Mohammed and Samai in Kenema, Sierra Leone.
Eleanor, one of our gap year volunteers travelled to Sierra Leone, and spent three days with the community of Tissor, where Mohammed and Samai are from. She saw first-hand how your money is helping.
We began our stay here on Sunday when we went to mass at St Paul’s Cathedral looking amazing wearing our freshly made African outfits. The whole Catholic community make a real effort to dress up in traditional costume for mass so we thought that we would join in the culture and wear ours! They’re amazingly comfortable, and I’m going to be really tempted to live in it when I’m back in the UK.
The bulk of our week was taken up with our 3-day visit to the rural community of Tissor, just outside Kenema. CAFOD is helping people make a living in this area by giving the community the know-how and financial support to set up a poultry farm and a fishpond.
It was incredible to see how CAFOD’s support has helped. Although not fully functional yet, it is clear that the project is already really affecting the lives of the community in a very positive way. Albert is the community officer of the poultry farm and says the project, which provides eggs and a source of income for the people of Tissor, has given him a real sense of purpose and helped him to afford to send his children to school. He is really appreciative of CAFOD’s support, and we all hope to see this success copied throughout communities in Sierra Leone.
After a sad farewell (particularly from the children!) from the village of Tissor, we headed back to Kenema city.
It has been a real eye-opener to be invited into this wonderful, flourishing community. Aside from enjoying spending time with some amazing and inspirational people, I have had a chance to see just some of the huge impacts that CAFOD is having on people’s lives and how support from the UK is really making a difference.