Tag Archives: lent

Digging deep for the world’s poorest people: witnessing the charity of Christ

Patrick Gbessay Jamiru has been Director of CAFOD’s partner Caritas Kenema, for over thirteen years. Caritas Kenema is the development and relief office for the Catholic Diocese of Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone.

Patrick is visiting the UK in the run-up to Lent, to talk to CAFOD supporters about the work of Caritas in Kenema and how, with your donations, they can help poor families to earn a living now and in the future.

Jesus Christ is our model and so we take seriously into account  all those values he set before us, which he himself had demonstrated.  Among them is that of charity.

Charity, from the point of view of the Christian faith, is not just giving handouts from the surpluses we have, but it is the ability to share our life with those of our brothers and sisters who are less privileged and cannot stand on their own.

Please join CAFOD to help those who are unable to stand on their own. Please dig deep this Lent>>

Please Dig Deep with CAFOD this Lent to help people in Sierra Leone and around the world to a better future.

Please Dig Deep with CAFOD this Lent to help people in Sierra Leone and around the world to a better future.

Those who find themselves in certain situations either by design or by accident need some intervention.  For example, those struck down by sicknesses, natural disasters, or those whose societies have deprived them of their basic human rights.

Jesus said to his people that he was not there for the virtuous but for those who were of the lost house of Israel; that those who were well did not need a doctor but those who were sick.   He was making reference to the reality our basic Christian principle wants us to pay attention to: that of care and concern for our brothers and sisters who are in dire need.

Some people may say we were all created by God with equal opportunities; therefore, for some it is due to laziness, or for some it is due to carelessness and so we must not care for others.  But in my estimation, our focus must be on those realities that dehumanize our brothers and sisters; those realities which make us agents of our Lord and not judges of their unfortunate situations.

Every Christian is charged with the responsibility of imitating our Lord Jesus and help in his or her own way in the spread of the Gospel and the Gospel values.  It can be education or support to those in hopeless situations.

The social teachings of the church can and should be lived out in diverse ways. The relief and development work of the CARITAS Kenema office in Eastern Sierra Leone helps mostly the poorest of the poor.

It is by sharing all of what life brings and helping people to live a full life demands, we are witnessing the charity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We want to create a world where all people can flourish. Will you dig deep this Lent to give the world’s poorest people a better future?>>

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1940s Rations challenge: What our mums have taught us

I love visiting my Gran. And as she lived through the war and rationing, she’s been a goldmine of information.

Gran has always been hardworking and resourceful. Like her own mum, she was great at making supplies stretch.

“There wasn’t much bread,” she says, ‘but we made soda bread. And for stew you could sometimes get a bone from the butcher. It was a good idea to make friends with the butcher, and then he’d put aside an extra bone for you to boil.”

Gran's wartime soda bread recipe has been so welcome this Lent

Gran’s wartime soda bread recipe has been so welcome this Lent

One of her favourite stories is how Arthur the butcher taught her to skin a rabbit. The skin could be cured and the fur used to line a little person’s coat, and there’d be rabbit pie for dinner. Nothing was wasted.

Get Gran’s wartime soda bread recipe here>>

“We looked after each other,” she says. “Neighbours looked out for each other and we shared what we had. That’s how it worked.”

This marvel of scrimping and soda bread is my legacy. I grew up in a home where ‘waste not want not’ hung in the air alongside aromas of bubble and squeak. Like Gran, my mum learned to feed her big family on the proverbial loaf and fishes. We’d tease her for saving a few peas in a Tupperware, or turning Sunday’s veg into Monday’s risotto. But we never went hungry.

Before the rations challenge, I hadn’t thought much about what I needed, only what I’d like to eat. So I’ve often ended up throwing food out (guiltily, expecting Mum and Gran to burst in yelling ‘no-o-o-o-o!’ in a slow-motion fashion) because I bought too much.

Now, I’m working out how to make food stretch, and appreciating how Mum and Gran had to balance everything to feed all those hungry mouths.

And the food waste is disappearing! The most I throw away is carrot tops and leek bottoms. I’ve stopped peeling carrots and spuds (a good scrub does as well and wastes less). With the meat, cheese and milk I work out what I need each day and how to make it last.  It’s a revelation.

Around a third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted every year around the world. Yet one in eight people don’t have enough to eat. What if we could change this?>>

Mums are brilliant. They never stop teaching us. My Mum and Gran are strong, practical women whose ability to make do and mend kept us all in shoes and coats (albeit usually hand-me-downs).

For Gran, the occasional spare rabbit must have been a fantastic gift. As a mum with scant resources, it represented a family feast. And she watched her children grow up  strong and healthy, their futures before them.

So many mums don’t get to see that, because the unfair food system stops them. They can make a little go a long way, but if there’s not even a bare minimum, no amount of mum magic can make it stretch.

Sabita is a mum from Bangladesh. She struggles to grow enough to eat and sell when crops are washed away by heavy rains and sea water flooding. But our Caritas partner has helped her with simple solutions like raised vegetable beds and using home-made compost to improve the soil.

Sabita from Bangladesh

Sabita from Bangladesh

“This plot has made a big difference to my family. It’s improved our diet and given us extra income,” she says.

It takes such a small amount to get a family up and running.

Sabita features in our Emmaus meal resource. Why not share her story with your community?

We honour mums on Mother’s day. We celebrate and give thanks for them. We can also honour mums around the world, by taking action today, and making the first step to ending world hunger.

If we can make the system fair, I’ve no doubt mums can do the rest. That would be a real gift to mums everywhere.

Mother Mary,

You hold all mothers in your heart; you know their joys and sorrows. Pray that we may be inspired to create a world where every mother can watch her children grow, happy and healthy, and rejoice as their futures unfold.

My wartime soda bread and cheese rationAbout the Author: Claud Mba has worked in CAFOD’s digital communications team for three years. She lives with her husband in Kent and is a lifelong supporter of CAFOD’s work. This Lent she’s putting her love of 1940s style and culture to the test: getting sponsored to live on 1943 UK rations, in solidarity with people who don’t have enough to eat around the world.

You can read more about Claud’s challenge and sponsor her here: http://www.justgiving.com/claudonrations

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Rations challenge: cheating our food producers shouldn’t be an option

It’s week three and I think I’m hitting my stride. In becoming a dab hand and knocking up a few wholemeal scones , making sure I divvy up my protein for each day, and I can murder a potato in any one of a dozen devilish ways.

Meanwhile my grocery bills are down, and my waste is down…eve​n my waist seems to be benefitting​ from this restriction (and if ever there was a sign that I have far too much, it’s that I see a weight reduction as a bonus).

Meanwhile, thanks to the amazing generosity of friends, family, and some people I’ve never even met, I’ve already managed to raise nearly £400 in sponsor money for CAFOD’s Lent appeal! If you’d like to add to that total, please visit my justgiving page.

Maybe I’m blogging on a good day – one where the thought of one more potato doesn’t make me weep – but my thoughts for today are: it’s really not so bad. A few more eggs, and I reckon I’d be happy to adopt it on a longer term basis. Oh, and some tomatoes. An oranges…and the occasional avocado.

OK, there are definitely things I miss. But the benefit of the ration regime is that it really lets you get to grips with what’s essential and what’s a luxury. And the fact is, I’ve got all the essentials.

I’m wondering now, if I’d appreciate lots of things more if I only ate them seasonally? Most of us rarely consider if our fruit and veg is seasonal these days because you can always get what you want, but if we always get the season’s best it not only tastes better, we become almost by accident more aware and responsible shoppers.

Here is one important lesson I’ll be taking forward from the challenge:  overseas food is actually a luxury, which adds variety and excitement to my diet. And if I get seasonal local produce where I can, I will most likely have enough money to get my overseas produce from sustainable, responsible sources.

What could you discover in Fairtrade Fortnight?

What could you discover in Fairtrade Fortnight?

I do think we should keep buying our avocados and oranges and bananas because overseas producers do, after all, rely on that trade. But I do want to see them for what they are: gifts; privileges, and therefore not to be bought carelessly, or for knockdown prices.

Food that comes from overseas represents people’s livelihoods, every bit as much as buying carrots from Cambridge is supporting farmers here. So not being responsible about whom I buy from should no longer be an option.

Did you know that the 500 million women and men who produce 70 per cent of the world’s food also make up half the world’s hungry people? This is not an accident. Once again, the people who produce our food are losing out at the end of the supply chain.

And once again – it’s something we have the power to change.

During Fairtrade Fortnight, we’re all that little bit more aware of how our purchases affect other people. We can take that awareness forward to make permanent changes to our shopping habits that really support the world’s smallholder farmers who supply most of our creature comforts. After all, over 4,500 products are now Fairtrade, so we should be able to find them!

And we can keep shouting about how unfair it is that seven companies control 85 per cent of tea production globally, and three companies hold nearly half of the global coffee production. Meanwhile, the growers and producers get a tiny percentage of the profits.

At the moment I’m only able to buy food produced in the UK. But I’m going to take a good, hard look at what I usually put in my basket, and see if I’m really putting my money where my mouth is.

I like to think of it as a pincer movement: buying Fairtrade so that growers today get a good deal, and big companies have to think a bit harder about their suppliers, and taking action to change the food system for good might mean that in years to come, we’ll be able to shake our heads in disbelief at the idea that fairly traded food was ever a choice we had to make.

It’s not right that people don’t get a fair price for what they produce. Let’s make 2013 the beginning of the end of this injustice.

CAFOD is part of the IF campaign. Please take action to end world hunger for good>>

016Claud Mba has worked in CAFOD’s digital communications team for three years. She lives with her husband in Kent and is a lifelong supporter of CAFOD’s work. This Lent she’s putting her love of 1940s style and culture to the test: getting sponsored to live on 1943 UK rations, in solidarity with people who don’t have enough to eat around the world.

You can read more about Claud’s challenge and sponsor her here: http://www.justgiving.com/claudonrations

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Rations challenge: We’re all in this together

As I may have already groaned, I’m finding the monotony of rations something of a chore to deal with. And yes, I am ashamed of myself for saying that.

But there was another side to rationing in the UK. Many poor families ate better in World War 2 than they ever had before. The principles behind rationing were founded not only on making do and home grown, but also on proper nutrition.

homemade broth and wartime scones

homemade broth and wartime scones

The government policy was possibly one of the best policies ever written by a government: it was based on the principles that there must be enough food for everyone, and that the food there was needed to be balanced and nutritious. It was a policy which cared for poor people in a way we rarely see in society today.

The people responsible for putting rationing together were not only interested in making sure the food lasted. They also understood that for everyone to survive and stay healthy, you couldn’t base what people ate on what they could afford, but on everyone getting a fair share.

As such, the very wealthy had to get used to eating only their share, so that the very poor could keep going. Put another way, the rich had to live more simply, so the poor could simply live.

Could your parish take the CAFOD Livesimply challenge? Find out more>>

I don’t for a moment think that the wartime government was any more compassionate or big hearted than any other government in history. I think their reasons were pretty straightforward and common sense: there was a war on; we were a small island. We needed all hands on deck and we needed people to be fit for work. The last thing the government wanted was the workforce taken out by malnutrition.

But…isn’t that the same issue today? Countries all over the world are literally grinding to a standstill because people don’t have enough to eat. Because food is scarce, prices are high, and that leaves no money for education or essential services. People become weak, and sick and start to die, which decimates the workforce. And this is a travesty, because if we made it possible for people to be well and healthy enough to work, we know beyond doubt that people in poor countries have the resourcefulness, creativity and drive to lift their entire nations out of poverty.

In a world of plenty people don’t have enough to eat. This is a scandal we can change. Please take action today>>

It’s time to change this system. I think we’re ready for change; I think we’re hungry for it. I think we need to keep questioning and questioning, why food isn’t being shared out properly; why people’s most basic needs are being held to ransom for profit; why I get to choose whether or not to use food carefully while mothers like Rose worry that their children will not survive the next drought.

Read more about Rose, her family, and the goat that got them through the drought>>

The wartime ethos of ‘we’re all in this together’ needs reinstating – but not on a national scale. We have one world: one finite, albeit abundant resource. We are ALL in this together, across the globe. It’s more than time to get hungry for change. It’s time to get global on global hunger.

Are you hungry for change? Take action with CAFOD today>>

Claud with her victory cookbook

Claud with her victory cookbook

Claud Mba has worked in CAFOD’s digital communications team for three years. She lives with her husband in Kent and is a lifelong supporter of CAFOD’s work. This Lent she’s putting her love of 1940s style and culture to the test: getting sponsored to live on 1943 UK rations, in solidarity with people who don’t have enough to eat around the world.

You can read more about Claud’s challenge and sponsor her here: http://www.justgiving.com/claudonrations

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Hungry for change: Is empathy dead?

John McBride with the Olympic torch

John McBride with the Olympic torch

In a recent speech to graduates at an American University, US president Barack Obama said that the ‘empathy deficit’ was a bigger worry for him than the financial deficit.

His concern is that people are losing the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

John McBride – the barefoot runner from Consett who has gone as far as taking his shoes off to run in solidarity with people he met in Kenya who can’t afford them – talks about what empathy means to him and how he believes that it is a sentiment that is far from dead.

Help support CAFOD at Lent, by giving a donation here >

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