Step into the Gap – Adventures in Peru

Fiona Sim is one of our gap year volunteers. Here are some of her reflections from her first week seeing projects CAFOD supports in Peru:

Fiona (right) with women from Lomas de Carabayllo's comedors
Fiona (right) with women from Lomas de Carabayllo’s comedors

From working with the dynamic children of Warmi Huasi to meeting the inspirational residents of Lomas de Carabayllo, it has been a jam-packed first week of our journey. Though it’s been quite an intense week, I feel so privileged to have been able to meet and learn from so many amazing people already. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel like I’ve met some of the real life super heroes of our time. These people have no special powers, no soothsaying abilities, and no fancy capes. This is what they do have: resilience, strength, and a kitchen at their fingertips.

These are the wonderful women of two of Lomas de Carabayllo’s comedors. These communal kitchens provide a subsidised lunch to people who need it in the community—those who would struggle to afford hearty meals otherwise—from Monday to Friday. The staff members themselves are part of the same community and earn free meals through working at the comedor when they can.

Buy Food for a Family with CAFOD’s World Gifts Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Adventures in Peru”

World Day for Migrants and Refugees

This blog is written by Linda Jones, Head of the CAFOD Theology Programme. Linda shares her thoughts on the World Day for Migrants and Refugees in this Year of Mercy.

Aza and her young son
Aza and her son

‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ (Luke 6:36).

“They (refugees) are men and women like us… seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war” Pope Francis.

Last year the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) recorded that more than one million migrants and refugees had crossed the Mediterranean Sea, seeking sanctuary in Europe. Sadly, the UN Refugee agency (UNCHR) say that over 3,700 other children, women and men did not survive the perilous journey by sea, and drowned on their journey to safety.

Find out more about our response to the refugee crisis

Aza fled Syria with her infant son because of the war. She said, “They told us that there would be 35 people in our boat but when we arrived there were more than 200. We were in the sea and the engine stopped. The first thing we did was call the coastguard but they didn’t come.

Continue reading “World Day for Migrants and Refugees”

Show Your Love and Share Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

Libby Abbott, Campaigns Coalition Manager at CAFOD, tells us how witnessing an act of kindness from a supporter on the Paris metro has inspired her to Show the Love and tackle climate change.

Crafted Green Hearts for Show the Love campaign
Green Hearts for Show the Love

In December, I had the privilege to travel with 21 CAFOD campaigners to Paris as part of the UN COP21 – where world leaders met and agreed a binding deal to tackle climate change. We had an incredible time bearing witness and participating in mass mobilisations around the Eiffel Tower.

We also had some very meaningful exchanges with Parisians. On the Paris metro, one campaigner, Jane, noticed a woman staring at a badge she was wearing. The badge was a heart made of green felt with the word ‘families’ embroidered across the front.

Jane explained to the Parisian that it represented families all over the world who would be affected by climate change. She then unpinned the green heart from her coat and gave it to the woman to keep. Looking back to me she said, ‘I guess I’ll just have to make another one for myself!’

Unbeknownst to Jane, she had just participated in a campaign action. CAFOD is teaming up with the Climate Coalition this Valentine’s Day to #ShowTheLove for all the things we hold dear that could be affected by climate change, from our families in the UK to the world’s poorest overseas. Continue reading “Show Your Love and Share Your Heart for Valentine’s Day”

CAFOD corporate partner: cycling 180 miles for Kitui

Paul Bennett is Executive Chairman at CAFOD corporate partner b:ssec. Here he tells us about the huge challenge he and Wayne Ward, Managing Director of b:ssec, are taking on for CAFOD.

Paul and Wayne from b:ssec
Paul and Wayne from b:ssec training for their CAFOD Wessex Way bike ride

For three days in May 2016, Wayne and I will be taking our mountain bikes off road and cycling 180 miles in aid of CAFOD. The ‘Wessex Way’ ride takes us from Westbury in Wiltshire to Beachy Head in East Sussex, across rough terrain and through some really varied landscapes.

It’s a ride that has been on my bucket list for a while. Life is too short not to do what you love! Wayne was mad enough to join me on it – so great. What’s fantastic about this challenge is we will be having fun, reducing the middle age spread and raising money for CAFOD. Any sponsorship that we receive will go towards supporting vulnerable farmers in Kitui, Kenya, to grow enough food, access clean water and engage with the local government on the issues that prevent them from earning a living.

Please sponsor us via JustGiving

CAFOD is helping farming families in Kitui to plant seeds and to terrace their farms, re-sculpting the landscape to keep rainwater where it is needed and stop topsoil from being washed away during the rainy season. So that crops flourish, the farmers are being supplied with solar-powered drip irrigation kits and sand dams to collect rainwater. We are proud to be involved in making this important work happen.  Continue reading “CAFOD corporate partner: cycling 180 miles for Kitui”

16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.”

Cassandra Mok, CAFOD’s Country Rep for Cambodia & Myanmar, shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue.

16-Days-Cambodia
Men in Cambodia wearing white ribbons, a symbol of solidarity against gender-based violence.

A friend of mine once confided that her high school boyfriend used to hit her and drag her around by the hair. It surprised me, as I always saw her as this clever, articulate and powerful woman. I asked her why she put up with it for so many years. After explaining that both her parents used to beat her in anger, she simply stated: “Everyone who loved me hit me. So I believed that if someone loved you, they hit you.”

Learn more about CAFOD’s work on gender

Gender-based violence affects both men and women, boys and girls. It affects the family as well as the society we share. Violence is not solely about personal safety, it’s about how we communicate our emotions and how we resolve conflict. Children learn how they should treat others and how they deserve to be treated from those around them. Growing up in a violent situation makes it a norm. These children grow into adults with conceptions on how to interact with each other and with expectations that it’s normal to hit or to be hit.

Continue reading “16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.””

Sr Karen: Why I’m travelling to Paris with CAFOD for climate change action

Sr Karen d’Artois OP is a Dominican nun from the Archdiocese of Westminster. She’s part of a delegation of CAFOD campaigners travelling to the UN ‘COP21’ meeting in Paris, calling on world leaders to agree to action on climate change to prevent people in the poorest communities being pushed deeper into poverty.

Sr Karen joined tens of thousands of people marching through London for action on climate change
Sr Karen joined tens of thousands of people marching through London for action on climate change

I learned very young, when I was aged 10, that politics isn’t a ‘spectator sport’.

Studying Politics at university, I realised the same about my Catholic faith. That belief inspired my vocation as a Dominican Sister: to bring together faith and politics in the quest for truth.

To me, the idea that ‘faith has no place in politics’ is rubbish! Faith, in some form, is the basis of every person’s thinking and acting. Jesus criticised the unjust political and social circumstances of his day and appealed for change: he called it the Kingdom of God. As a follower of Jesus, I’m called to help build that Kingdom — where justice and opportunity are within everyone’s reach.

Learn about Pope Francis’s Encyclical

The Climate Summit in Paris is a chance to speak up for planet Earth and the goodness of creation. It’s at risk from our reckless behaviour and misuse of resources. Faith and politics aren’t opposites; they depend on one another. My Catholic faith is the foundation of my politics and activism, and politics informs my faith. Continue reading “Sr Karen: Why I’m travelling to Paris with CAFOD for climate change action”

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2015

Montserrat Fernández, Programme Officer for Central America, has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years. On the first day of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign she shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue, and what motivated her to act.

My experience of gender-based violence

Montse has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years.
Montse has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years.

I belong to the 35 per cent of women worldwide who have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in our lives. At 20 years old, I was living in Barcelona and studying teaching. One day, while travelling to teach at a primary school, I was raped.

I went to the police station to denounce the attack but there were no police women at that time, in the 80s, in Barcelona. The policeman who took my testimony got red face as I described what had happened. My parents then accompanied me to another police station to look through photos of all rapists in Barcelona, to see if I could recognise my aggressor. He was not in the police photo albums, but my neighbour, the son of one of my parents’ friends, was.

I decided to denounce the attack because I didn’t want the young girls who were going to the primary school to have the kind of bad experience I was facing. Today, in Nicaragua where I work, I know that girls going to school in rural areas are facing similar experiences on the way to school or even inside their schools. Because of this, some girls decide to drop out of school.

Continue reading “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2015”

Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!

We’d like to introduce the new CAFOD gap year volunteers! They’ve been settling into their new placements with our Step into the Gap scheme and have each written a few words on their hopes for the year ahead.

Bea – Nottingham 

Bea has joined Step into the Gap in Nottingham
Bea has joined Step into the Gap in Nottingham

Hello I’m Bea and I’m part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme based at The Briars Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I wanted to explore my passion for social justice, so when the opportunity arose to be on the Step into the Gap programme I jumped at the chance! And I can’t believe I’m part of – it’s so exciting!

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!”