CAFOD stands for the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development. We are an international development charity and the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. We stand beside people living in poverty – whatever their religion or culture. Through local church partners, we help people directly in their own communities, and campaign for global justice, so that everyone can reach their full potential. How to get involved with CAFOD None of our work is possible without you. Whether you donate, campaign, download prayers or volunteer we are grateful for your support.
Eleanor Margetts is a young CAFOD volunteer, who spoke at CAFOD’s parliamentary reception for MPs and MP Correspondents. This extract is from her inspiring speech.
I have been involved with CAFOD for about four years. The organisation has been a huge part of my life and continues to shape me.
I must admit, when I first chose to volunteer with CAFOD, I applied for the Step into the Gap programme, hoping that it would give me a leg up in the education sector.
But, unexpectedly, I encountered what Pope Francis calls the ‘cry of the poor’. Through working alongside CAFOD, something switched on inside me: a sense of responsibility for the rights of my global family.
Fergus Conmee isCAFOD‘s Head of Region for Africa. Here, he writes about how famine in parts of South Sudan has left people on the edge of starvation andhow desperately help is needed to restore hope.
If you’ve heard about Sudan in the news recently, it was probably because President Trump included the country in his list of seven ‘banned’ countries. Yet in South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011, people are wondering when the focus of the international community might turn to their own – increasingly desperate – struggle.
CAFOD volunteer Trevor Stockton, from St Anthony of Padua parish in Wolverhampton, reflects on the significance of Advent in his life, past and present.
Advent was a word I didn’t know about until I started going to church in my teens. The period before Christmas and Christmas itself really took on a new meaning for me thereafter.
Before then, as a child in a working class family in the 1940s, Christmas was simply all about having a few treats that we didn’t get all year round. Having an ordinary stocking filled with nuts, dates, a tangerine and other similar luxuries was amazing. A few, and I mean a few, simple presents followed by a family Christmas meal made the day. There was no television and the day continued with playing games. So, the weeks before Christmas were spent in anticipation of this special time.
Now, Advent means trying to put the religious significance into perspective against a backdrop of a society which seems to see Christmas as a purely commercial, money-making, money-spending time, whatever the cost to self, others and the environment.
After I have had the annual tussle with myself about the negatives of this commercial approach, Advent’s true significance to me is as a time of preparation for the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus – who forms the basis of our Christian faith.
Daniel Hale is CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns. In November, CAFOD will be hosting retreats all around the country, giving supporters a chance to reflect on faith and taking action in light of the Year of Mercy.
There are only three more weeks until the end of the Year of Mercy, the holy year called by Pope Francis to reflect on the mercy of God. Of course reflection is good at any time, but why did the Pope ask for this year to be the year?
I think it was a clever way to ask us to take a fresh look at the problems faced by the world and its people. The refugee crisis, to which Pope Francis had tried to draw so much attention was one such issue.
Over several years Francis had done a lot to promote the cause of refugees, including visiting Lampedusa, where so many migrants washed up on European shores. But the world was slow to act.
Catherine Gorman works in CAFOD’s Theology Programme. She reflects on a request from Vladimir in Bolivia that we pray for him and his family this Harvest.
“If people in England and Wales were able to pray for us, we’d like them to pray for our dreams to come true and that our work isn’t in vain, but that what we wish for our land will come true.” Vladimir, 25, Bolivia
On the day of the canonisation of Blessed Mother Teresa, Daniel Hale, from our campaigns team, reflects on her lifetime of charitable work.
Mother Teresa, one of the most globally iconic people in the Catholic Church in the 20th century, is being declared a saint this weekend in Rome. For many, this is the high point of the Pope’s Year of Mercy. Pope Francis holds Teresa up as the embodiment of Jesus’ words, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Leaving the relative comfort of her teaching order, Teresa began a ministry to those living on the streets of India. She showed the touch of God’s mercy to the ‘untouchables’ of society. To those who didn’t know more, her reputation was one of absolute charity – feeding the hungry and comforting the dying. When I grew up, Mother Teresa was its personification.
Takura Gwatinyanya works for CAFOD partner Caritas Harare in Zimbabwe. He recently met CAFOD supporters in England and Wales to talk about how Caritas Harare is using renewable energy to help to tackle the effects of climate change in the southern African country.
Pope Francis warns in Laudato Si’ that our interference with nature is particularly affecting areas in which the poorest people live.
This is all too evident for the communities that Takura and Caritas Harare serve in Zimbabwe. As we have caused the climate to warm, drought has dried up people’s water supplies, destroyed their crops and livelihoods, and increased the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea.
Takura recently visited parishes around England and Wales to talk about how the support of Catholics in this country is enabling people in Zimbabwe to overcome the challenges thrown at them by our exploitation of nature.
Today more than 10 million women, men and children in Ethiopia are struggling with severe hunger caused by drought. With CAFOD working to respond, Jade Till, from our news team, describes her experience of the country’s rich culture and natural beauty.
Ethiopia is where life happens. Recently, Ethiopia has been in the news due to a widespread drought. What’s rarely told is the wondrous beauty of Ethiopia. It’s a dynamic country, rich in culture and history, I’m fortunate enough to have experienced it.
Probably what Ethiopia is most well-known for is coffee. Anyone who’s met me for longer than five minutes knows I’m a coffee drinker. Ethiopia is why I love, and drink, so much coffee.
I remember experiencing my first traditional coffee ceremony. No matter where I was in Ethiopia or if I was in the city or a rural village, the coffee was always served in a traditional style. Grass (even in areas where I hadn’t seen grass for days) is laid out around the coffee area. The woman making the coffee always wore a traditional, flowing, white gown. The coffee beans would be; washed, roasted, crushed, mixed into hot water, and then placed in a traditional coffee pot. The coffee would be shared and you would always drink seven cups of coffee during the coffee ceremony! Ethiopian coffee is extremely strong; it’s also extremely delicious.
It’s one year Laudato Si’ was published. Pope Francis used this ‘letter to the world’ to call for action on issues such as climate change and for us to rethink our ideas of progress. Liam Finn, CAFOD‘s UK News Officer, looks at the impact of the encyclical:
“I wish to address every person living on this planet.”
So declared Pope Francis at the start of his landmark encyclical, Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, a year ago. The Holy Father called for a “bold cultural revolution”, imploring us to transform ourselves because the human and environmental costs of our current way of life – particularly for the world’s poorest people – are too high. He spoke of the need for measures to tackle climate change and pollution, for greater awareness and appreciation of nature and the planet, and for us to value everyone in all places and at all stages of life.
Laudato Si’ is extraordinary. For a start, it’s the first encyclical focused on the need to care for Creation. It is, as MPs said in Parliament, a “most beautiful document” which is “astonishing and exceptionally rich”. Even so, its greatest power is the way it acts as a mirror to the world with brutal reflections, whether saying that the earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”, or talking about “the disposable of society” – a description so steeped in satire that it reads more like it’s from the pen of a punk lyricist than a pontiff.
Justin Rowntree owns the highly acclaimed Silversmith’s Restaurant in Sheffield. On 5 June he ran the Ugandan Marathon in memory of his late mum, Sarojini, his grandmother, Angelina, and to support CAFOD. He set himself the challenge of raising £4,000 to cover the cost of building a borehole in the Gulu region of Uganda. He spoke to CAFOD’s Katherine Binns about the race:
The week before the marathon was truly life changing. Meeting people in the remotest of villages rebuilding their lives after 20 years of war, [and seeing] their dignity, determination and relentless strength to improve their lives is something we in the west can learn so much from.
I saw how wells already implemented by CAFOD changed the fortune and lives of whole communities. No six hour trips for water by the children meant school could be attended, hygiene and health improved tenfold, and crops had a chance to survive drought.
As one village leader said to me “building a well is giving life, as here water is life”