Freetown’s long road to recovery

Kathleen O’Brien works in the schools team and travelled to Sierra Leone with the Step into the Gap volunteers earlier this year. 

Entering Sierra Leone’s capital on a quiet morning, I could hear the happy cries of children echoing out of the glassless windows of the Malamakaningo pre-primary school.

This was a stark contrast from a year ago. In August 2017 the school was used to shelter people who had lost their homes in a disaster from which Freetown is only beginning to recover. Torrential rain battered the city for three days, and in the early hours of August 14, floodwaters and landslides ploughed through the areas surrounding the capital, killing 1,141 people and displacing three times that number.

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Gospel reflection: Created from love and for love

Linda Jones from CAFOD’s Theology team reflects on this Sunday’s gospel (John 6:41-51). She explains how Jesus shows us how to live a life of love.

Based on the gospel for Sunday 12 August – John 6:41-51

“I am the bread of life.”

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How to enjoy the summer without damaging the planet

Climate champion Beth has been thinking of ways to enjoy the summer without damaging the world we live in. Here are her top tips.

With everyone enjoying the summer months it is easy to forget the small things that we are doing to cause damage to the planet. Whether you are out with friends, at a festival or jetting off somewhere far away, there are ways to enjoy the summer months and reduce your carbon footprint. You can enjoy the summer season and help save the planet one small step at a time.

These tips should help you make the most of summer but also advise you to enjoy the season with simple hacks that can make this world an even better place.

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Top tips for an Eco friendly summer

1. Reduce plastic waste

plastic water bottle
Reduce your plastic by not buying bottled water and using your own reusable bottle

With Britain experiencing its hottest summer for years, everyone is heading to the nearest park or beach for a picnic. Why not reduce the amount of plastic you waste, whilst enjoying yourselves? Try packing reusable cutlery and plates or even use reusable containers to pack your food in instead of disposable ones. Instead of constantly buying a bottle of water, be more prepared and bring your own reusable bottle. Many areas have water fountains to refill at, and cafes and restaurants will happily refill your bottle with tap water if you ask.

2. Walk or Cycle 

Think about your mode of transport! Although it is hard to stay “green” when you’re going on holiday aboard, it can still be done. Instead of jumping on the local bus or grabbing a taxi, a great way to experience your new surrounds and help reduce carbon emissions is by walking or hiring a bike. You may even explore areas you never thought of by traveling this way. It is another way to truly appreciate our own natural surroundings and all the real beauty the world has to offer!

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Gospel reflection: I am the bread of life

Reflecting on Sunday’s gospel John 6:24-35, CAFOD supporter Kathy McVay from Bristol considers the idea that we all need nourishing both bodily and spiritually.

Based on the gospel for Sunday 5 August – John 6:24-35

“I am the bread of life”

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How is Laudato Si’ changing the way we work at CAFOD?

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ has inspired and challenged CAFOD in the way we work. Susy Brouard, from CAFOD’s theology team, and Gisele Henriques, from our international programmes team, reflect on how.

In June 2015 Pope Francis issued the encyclical Laudato Si’. The sub-title was “on care for our common home”. The letter was addressed not just to Catholics, and not just to people of faith. It was addressed  to every citizen on the planet.

Pope Francis recognises that we have a common problem – environmental and social degradation. This problem will require a common solution so everyone is invited to be involved! As the Pope stated: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” (# 14)

Reflect on and respond to Laudato Si’ with our prayer resources

CAFOD’s reflection on Laudato Si’

Susy Brouard holding a copy of the Laudato Si
Susy Brouard holding a copy of Laudato Si’

As a Catholic development agency CAFOD took the Pope’s invitation to dialogue very seriously. We felt we were in a good position to contribute constructively to the conversation. At the same time, we also saw that Laudato Si’ contained within it many challenges about the way we live and work. This included our approach to international development. We realised that we might be required to change some of the ways we think and work.

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Reflections on the Zimbabwe election

Dadirai Chikwengo is CAFOD’s Governance Advisor supporting work across Africa, Asia and Latin America. She is currently in Zimbabwe ahead of the first elections since former President, Robert Mugabe – who had been leading the country for over 30 years – stepped down.

In the last five days, I have been taken back to my childhood days. The days when I was a little girl in Gweru. The euphoria and the excitement in the country have taken me back decades to 1980 when Mugabe came into power.  It is winter in Zimbabwe. Not that our winters are grey and wet as some place in the North where I now live. Here most of the vegetation looks brown like fields of wheat ready for harvest. But this winter, the colours on the brown barks of the trees have been unusual. From green, yellow, red, blue, you mention it!

Trees in Zimbabwe covered in election posters
Trees in Zimbabwe covered in election posters

In case you think I am out of my mind – surely who has seen a blue tree? I am not. These are all the colours of posters tied up or pasted on the trees. The colours of posters that are lining the streets or on walls whenever you go. Posters of political parties, the Church or the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission about this election.  I meet people in the streets who are fearlessly open about their candidate of choice. Clad in the colours of their party every time they see someone in the same colours they acknowledge them and loudly say out the slogan ED Pfee (ED enters) or Chamisa chete chete (Chamisa the only one).

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Warriors against Climate Change

Eighteen CAFOD supporters gathered in Belgium last month at a sustainability camp. They joined other Catholic sister agencies for a one week camp. They got together to reflect on topics related to climate change, ecological living, Laudato Si’, activism and sustainability. Bridgid Duffy, a CAFOD Climate Champion, shares with us her experience.  

After a long, hot day of carrying several tents from the UK to Belgium, we reached our destination – Wereldkamp 2018.  We were all invited by CIDSE. CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies working together for global justice. The smiling faces of the CIDSE volunteers were the first people to greet us. As soon as we caught sight of the camp, there was an undeniable sense of community. Children were playing football on the dusty ground under the hazy sunshine. The adults were preparing dinner on the peripheries of the magical forest.  In that moment I realized that everyone was there for one common goal: to learn what our role is in creating a more sustainable world. My heart began to race. I knew it was the beginning of a powerful and inspirational week.

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Gospel reflection: Jesus ensures there is enough for all to share

A small boy has five loaves and two fish. Jesus blesses them and ensures that all in the crowd can eat. Volunteer Trevor Stockton reflects on what this gospel story (John 6:1-15) means for us in a world where so many people still go hungry.

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Based on the gospel for Sunday 29 July – John 6:1-15

“Here is a small boy with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that among so many?”

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How reading about honey gave me a sweet fundraising idea

Runa volunteers for CAFOD. She tells us why a CAFOD beekeeping project inspired her to want to fund raise.

I recently helped my niece and nephew bake a honey cake for a bake-off challenge for their charity school fair.  A lot of families attended the event  and  it was a real success. It is great to see supporters looking to have a party-like experience while raising some money, although our cake wasn’t the winning cake (I am still sad about that). I believe creating a fun atmosphere is the key in raising money for CAFOD this summer.

Get ideas from CAFOD’s A-Z of fundraising

Beekeeping project

A training workshop in caring for bees. CAFOD's partner in Nicaragua runs a beekeeping project to give women a source of income. They work in a group to care for hives and bees and are then able to sell the honey produced.
CAFOD’s  beekeeping project.

I was inspired by reading about CAFOD’s overseas projects, and I came across the story of Bharoti. Bharoti lives in a village in Bangladesh with her husband. They are poor parents that led a very hard life and struggled to pay for the basics. CAFOD’s beekeeping project gave Bharoti an alternative way to earn money. The project provides training on bee cultivation and advanced bee keeping techniques. They learn about proper nursing, feeding, treatment, and how to make a new queen cell to grow the bee colony.  It is great to hear Bharoti is now an expert on advanced bee keeping technologies, and she also provides technical support to others in the community.

Stories like Bharoti’s prove how beneficial raising money is to families that need support. CAFOD Beekeeping projects provide an income and can create business opportunities.

The project is a source of hope for women where paid work is hard to come by and working with bees has helped build confidence and self-esteem within their communities. That’s surely motivation to want to do fund raise this summer.

Do you feel inspired by CAFOD Beekeeping project and want to show your support? Organise a fundraising event

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Gospel reflection: Jesus is moved with compassion

In this Sunday’s gospel, Mark 6:30-34, Jesus is moved with compassion for the crowd and responds to their needs. Volunteer Trevor Stockton reflects on how we are called to follow Jesus’ example.

Based on the gospel for Sunday 22 July – Mark 6:30-34

“Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”

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