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.
Ffion works in our digital team. This Lent she’s challenging herself to live on just 10 litres of water a day for a week to raise awareness of the CAFOD Lent Appeal.
When I first heard that people like Proscovia, a young girl from rural Uganda, sometimes live on 10 litres of water a day I thought, “that’s not too bad”. I’ve heard we humans are supposed to drink about two litres of liquid a day to stay healthy, so that’s a whole eight litres to clean your teeth and wash yourself. And wash your dishes and do your laundry. Oh, and then there’s flushing the toilet as well which, I’ve since discovered, uses at least four litres of water!
Far from thinking that 10 litres of water is sufficient, I’m now quite worried about my Lent challenge. I’ve done some research, which taught me that 10 litres is less than 10% of what we normally use per person per day in the UK. Washing things – yourself, clothes and laundry – seems to be where we use (or waste) the most amount of water so that’s what I think will be most difficult.
Laura Ouseley works in CAFOD’s Media team. She shares with us her experience of walking more than 12 miles to work for her Lent Water Challenge.
Alongside some of my colleagues (many of whom are taking on much bigger challenges than I am), this Lent I volunteered to take on my own Water Challenge in solidarity with people who don’t have access to safe water. For my challenge I decided that, rather than take the tube, I would walk my 12 mile journey into work!
This Lent, we’re telling the story of girls like 14-year-old Proscovia from Uganda, who had to walk every day to collect water for her family until CAFOD’s partner built a water pump near their home. Leaving at 6am, it would take her 4-5 hours to collect water and as a result, she would miss hours of school.
CAFOD gap year volunteer Danielle Storey has written about how climate change is impacting upon water supplies in Zimbabwe. Our 2016 Lent Appeal is focused on providing people with access to water.
The climate is changing. We can all easily fall into the habit of ignoring it, thinking it doesn’t affect me or it’s not that bad, my actions are only small so I can’t do anything about it. That’s what I thought too before I began my gap year with CAFOD. However countries all over the world, especially in recent years, are beginning to feel the effects of extreme weather events, including the UK with the recent devastating floods. We need to acknowledge that climate change is real and affecting people now.
Zimbabwe, along with other sub-Saharan African countries, is experiencing a severe drought. A priest we met while visiting CAFOD partner Mashambanzou told us that this is by far the worst he’s ever seen in the 30 years he’s been here. It’s been evident since we arrived here in Zimbabwe when we saw how dry and small the maize and other crops were for this time of year – there hadn’t been any rain for six weeks and it’s supposed to be the rainy season. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The effects of climate change on water”
Fiona has written from her Step into the Gap visit to Peru about how she is seeing the corporal acts of mercy in action in CAFOD’s work:
During this Year of Mercy, we are called to act upon the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. And so, while in Peru, I’ve been reflecting on the corporal acts in particular. It seems that they don’t need to be taken literally, as I’d first thought. I thought I’d take this time to focus on CAFOD partner CEAS who we’ve had the privilege of spending time with during this trip. They are the organisation for social action set up by the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.
Of all the corporal acts of mercy, I find that ‘welcoming the stranger’ is a particularly challenging one. It’s God’s call for us to put the faith and trust we have in Him into a complete stranger’s hands. It can be difficult to open our hearts—let alone our homes—to people that we know nothing about. Still, families have been doing just that—and more!—for us gap year volunteers here in Peru. The relationship built between CAFOD partners such as CEAS and the local community has enabled this faith and trust to exist.
Nana Anto-Awuakye is CAFOD’s World News Manager. She recently met families living in the Bekka refugee camp in Lebanon as part of CAFOD’s Lost Family Portaits project.
Last Christmas, various family members snapped away on their latest mobile phone cameras, and we all dutifully posed for the camera. I asked for the unflattering photos of me to be deleted, my sister refused saying, “It’s Christmas, and we are all together.”
Only a few weeks earlier I was in Lebanon’s Bekka valley, just nine kilometres from the Syrian border. I was working with our partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, the photographer Dario Mitidieri, and the creative agency M&C Saatchi to photograph family portraits of Syrian refugees inside some of the informal camp settlements in the Bekka.
Danielle Storey is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers. Here she writes about how the work of our partners in Zimbabwe is one way of showing the mercy Pope Francis has called for in this holy year:
We’ve learnt so much after just two weeks spent in Zimbabwe that no book could have ever taught us. The people we’ve met so far are just amazing. With the help of CAFOD partners and their inspirational volunteers we have witnessed the true loving mercy of God in action; as the local priest said in his homily this week, the work of God is alive and active.
As Pope Francis has announced this year as the Year of Mercy, we are encouraged as a worldwide family to have compassion and share our love unconditionally with our sisters and brothers, no matter how hard that may be: “let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven”. The volunteers here put their all into helping children who have been orphaned and people who are living with disabilities, sickness, or are disadvantaged, all the while struggling themselves to earn money and feed their own families. They do it because they have love to share, they open their hearts to others because there are no labels in the eyes of God – we are all equal and everyone deserves that love. As one of the Shamware Dzedu, the friends of Mavambo, said, “Volunteers want to give everything; song, heart, power.” Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Love is an Open Door of Mercy”
Laura Ouseley, CAFOD’s World News Officer, recently traveled to Greece to meet refugees attempting to continue their journey through Europe, and the Caritas partners working with them.
As we drove up out of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, and headed north towards the border with Macedonia, snow-capped mountains gradually came into view, the temperature dropped, and the landscape became increasingly barren.
I was in northern Greece to meet refugees who had already risked their lives crossing the Aegean Sea in overloaded boats and were now attempting to continue their journey through Europe. They had all saved up, borrowed money or sold their possessions so that they could make this dangerous journey in search of a better, safer life. They had already traveled at least 20 days to get there. For some it had taken much longer.
Every day at the border, coaches arrived with hopeful refugees. Hassan, a Syrian teenager I met there told me that this part had been the most difficult. “I have been waiting for so long. It is boring and so cold”, he said.
Katy Lowrey is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Zimbabwe. Here she writes about how vital birth certificates are to families and how difficult it can be for children to get one.
We have been in Zimbabwe now a week and we have visited two different partners. Both have shown me so much: about life in Zimbabwe, an insight into the difficulties faced by organisations such as Mashambanzou and Mavambo – two of our partners – and the reality of what life is like for people living in poor communities.
One thing that has really stood out and shocked me and made me think is something that before this trip I would never have really thought of as being important in my life. What I have learned is that every child needs a birth certificate. Without it they cannot go to school, they cannot take exams, they cannot apply for an ID and they cannot vote. Therefore this means this child will grow up to be a human being without any rights, it takes away their dignity. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate”
Alice and Michelle are currently in Peru, visiting communities CAFOD works with as part of the Step into the Gap programme. This is their first blog about their stay and some of the people they have spent time with so far.
Luz first came into contact with CAFOD partner Warmi Huasi as a mother when they were running a child nutrition programme. Now she works for Warmi Huasi and continues to support parents and children to live with dignity, know their rights, and be treated fairly.
It was so impromptu. I can’t even remember what we were talking to Luz about before. But then she started to tell us about the time she found out that a school in her area was mistreating its students. Luz wanted to campaign for a better learning environment for the students so she asked others for their help and support. At first, they were worried about the consequences and didn’t want anything to do with it – but with a little bit of encouragement, the campaign began. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Advocacy at the local level”
Jason Sheehan and Joanna Knight are two of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers. They’ve written about their experiences from their first week in Zimbabwe:
We’re one week in to what’s already been an amazing adventure and I’ve experienced so much. The best thing about this trip so far has been the opportunity to meet and talk with so many different people and about so many different issues.
One of the biggest talking points so far has been the drought that Zimbabwe and many other African countries are experiencing. The thing that stood out to me the most is that it’s not just the farmers talking about the effects the drought has and will have on them; everyone is discussing it. I hear a lot about the effects of climate change at home but it wasn’t until I witnessed the repercussions in person that it became real and – if I’m honest – quite frightening. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – reflections on the first week in Zimbabwe”