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.
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”
This Lent, Joe Andrew celebrated 20 years of volunteering with CAFOD.Here, he writes about the journey on which volunteering has taken him:
My involvement with the Catholic Church and with groups like CAFOD has gone in waves or cycles all my life. As a teenager I was an altar boy, went to Mass several times a week, and did house-to-house collections, sponsored events, all that kind of thing.
In my 40s I returned to my youthful faith and enthusiasms, and with it a renewed sense that ‘faith without deeds is dead’. With a few like-minded people in the parish I helped set up a local CAFOD group. We did lots of different stuff: raised money by auctions, coffee mornings, raffles and all the things that Catholics are so good at. Within a few years, I felt the need to go further, and applied successfully to become what was then known as a Covenant Volunteer for Birmingham Archdiocesan CAFOD. (‘Covenant’ meant that you ‘covenanted’, that is, committed to spend x hours a year on work for CAFOD).
Now the arrangements are more informal and you do what you can. For me my main role is as a Media Volunteer, and I also speak at Mass around the two Fast Days, visit a few local schools at those times, and also help out with fixing up speakers at Mass for the two Fast Days.
Molly McCaffrey recently spoke at a CAFOD reception at Parliament
When CAFOD invited me to speak at their parliamentary reception, I panicked. I’m a
student at Durham University, in the midst of end-of-term essay-writing. How was I going to plan a speech that was worth listening to, in between revising?
I decided to use my speech to reflect on the journey and experiences that CAFOD have facilitated for me; the people who have inspired me; and the conversations that have taught me to think and question.
Susan works in our education team. She recently visited Zimbabwe with young Step into the Gap volunteers from England and Wales. They met members of staff from Mavambo, one of CAFOD’s partners in Zimbabwe, who work extensively with local volunteers.
The singing reverberated through the hall, starting quietly, only one man, but swelling as the sixty or so people in the hall joined in. As I picked up the words, my voice joined too: “Here I am, I’m missing my partner. Here we are, your best friends! Here we are, here we are, here we are, your best friends. Here we are, here we are, here we are, face to face!”
Ben McMullen is the Deputy Head of All Hallows Catholic High School in Preston. In April he ran the 2016 Virgin London Marathon for CAFOD in memory of his father, Vin McMullen. Just before the marathon, he spoke to Jade Till of CAFOD’s media team, about the inspiration from his father and the course that CAFOD continues to run through his life.
CAFOD’s been a part of my life since I was 10 years old. My dad, Vin McMullen, worked for CAFOD for 16 years, from 1981 – 1997. He was the very first regional organiser outside of London. His area was originally the north of England, and then eventually covered Salford, Shrewsbury, Liverpool, and Lancaster dioceses.
Eventually every diocese had a regional organiser so he covered Liverpool. All through my teenage years I volunteered. My dad was the one who set up the Christmas Fun Run in Liverpool in 1984, which still goes on.
My dad was away a lot, and when he came back, all of the photographs and video clips really raised my awareness of how other people have to live. He was particularly involved with the Philippines. He wrote a book which the geography department at my school still uses.