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!”

“Like a dry weary land without water” – Volunteer Sr Carmel Ring reflects on Harvest Fast Day

With Harvest Fast Day activities and preparation starting this weekend, Sister Carmel, a religious Sister of Marie Auxiliatrice from the Parish of Our Lady of Muswell in North London, reflects on how God calls us to not only empathise with our brothers and sisters living in poverty, but to put that care into action. Sister Carmel, a retired teacher and missionary, and now a CAFOD Westminster volunteer, explains how you and your parish can help.

When during Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration I came across the lines “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” (Psalm 63), my mind went immediately to the people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, who like too many others on our planet are in the throes of another terrible drought and  its consequent crop failure and lack of food for thousands. I reflected on the request of our Holy Father in Laudato Si’, where he invites us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how it is for them, and felt compelled to do something about this dreadful situation.

Find resources for fundraising in you parish this Harvest Fast Day

This Harvest CAFOD is telling the story of Hamani, a 74 year-old farmer from the village of Doutchi in southern Niger. A man struggling, with pride and perseverance, to grow enough produce to feed his family and have something over to share with his less fortunate neighbours. Given the havoc being wrought time and again, year in year out since 2010 this is a well-nigh impossible task but nevertheless he is still confident that given some help from us he will manage to grow enough to eat and put aside some seeds to sow for next year’s harvest.  He is not looking for hand-outs, just enough to help him survive with dignity and become self-reliant.

Continue reading ““Like a dry weary land without water” – Volunteer Sr Carmel Ring reflects on Harvest Fast Day”

Climate change: We lobbied MPs, what now?

This is a guest blog from the Climate Coalition, CAFOD supporters joined people from development, environmental and community organisations from across the UK in the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up For The Love Of mass climate lobby of parliament on 17 June.

The UK can still lead on climate change – but we need to see positive action at home

On June 17th, thousands of people from around the country flocked to Westminster to meet their MPs. At over 430 meetings, our leaders were asked to support strong climate action to protect all the things we love that could be lost to climate change.

It was an inspiring day of action, and hundreds of MPs sat up and took notice of a powerful public voice calling for climate action. That evening, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd expressed support for the lobby, and her hope for an ambitious global deal at the UN climate talks in December. But in the wake of recent announcements, many will be asking where is this government’s credible low carbon plan essential for delivering the change we want to see in this country and for providing the credibility for international leadership.

Lancaster dioceses supporters at Speak Up For The Love Of
Lancaster dioceses supporters at Speak Up For The Love Of

Continue reading “Climate change: We lobbied MPs, what now?”

‘We are fighting together to save the planet’

Sunday, 9 August is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Our partner Davi Kopenawa Yanomami has dedicated his life to working to ensure that the rights, culture and land of Yanomami and Ye’kuana indigenous people are respected. In 2004, he founded our partner organisation Hutukara Yanomami Association, HAY. In September last year, Davi left his home in the Amazon to visit us here in the UK. He walked with CAFOD pilgrims in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese and met school children in Jarrow. He joined the march in London that launched our One Climate One World Campaign.

This is what Davi has to say about how we can work with his people to build a better future for us all.

Davi marching with CAFOD supporters at the Climate Coalition march in September
Davi marching with CAFOD supporters at the Climate Coalition march in September

“Hutukara means the World; the World where we live: you and us. Hutukara wants to protect, to preserve the Earth. We want to take care of the streams. Water is a priority. Everything that exists in the planet: the land, water, mountains, trees, the clean air, and we the indigenous people and you, we all live in this World. Hutukara’s role is to ensure that the land stays alive for our future and generations to come. Hutukara defends the people, the land, the forest, the rivers, the animals, clean air, health and education. We, the Yanomami people, are the guardians of the forest of our country.

Reflect on care for our common home with our Laudato Si’ study guide

Here [in the UK], people have understood. They are worried about the lungs of the planet. So they did something. The indigenous people did something, and the people from here did something. We are fighting together to save the planet. This is very good. It is the first time I have seen a demonstration for our planet. I really liked it. Continue reading “‘We are fighting together to save the planet’”

Win a professional energy audit for your parish!

Wayne Ward is Managing Director at CAFOD corporate partner B:SSEC. Here he reflects on their  partnership with CAFOD and an exciting new competition they have launched for parishes

B:SSEC staff on a hike to raise funds for green energy projects in Kenya
B:SSEC staff on a hike to raise funds for green energy projects in Kenya

When forming a new friendship, it’s always important to have things in common. Whether it is a love of cooking, cycling or bad television, it helps to unite you. And it is great when you find someone who appreciates it when you send them a funny cat video or who willingly agrees to go on that five-hour walk with you.

When the building sustainability and environmental consultancy b:ssec was looking to form a partnership with a charity, we followed a similar principle. At b:ssec, we provide expertise in planning, designing and operating low-carbon buildings. Alongside this, we also advise people on ways they can make energy efficiencies in existing buildings. We looked for an organisation that we share similar values with and who we thought would benefit from shared knowledge.

Win a free energy audit for your parish buildings from energy experts B:SSEC

We chose to partner with CAFOD, a development charity, because of our joint love for sustainable energy. This is energy which has been generated from natural sources such as water, wind and the sun. Being ‘sustainable’ means that it doesn’t harm the climate or local environment and that future generations can meet their energy needs. We both recognise the link between access to sustainable energy, protecting the environment and the promotion of human development. Continue reading “Win a professional energy audit for your parish!”

Hands On supporters: building an emotional bond

Daniel Collins works in CAFOD’s Fundraising team focussing on our Hands On initiative.

Stella and her family - Kitui, Kenya - CAFOD
Stella and her family who live in Kitui, Kenya

One of the most exciting parts of my job is working on Hands On – a scheme which enables you to support a specific community as they undertake an ambitious project that will change their lives. Our first project in Kitui, Kenya, started one year ago, and aims to bring water to the community by transforming the local landscape.

Read blogs from Kitui

One of the really interesting things about Hands On is that, because people’s donations go towards one specific project, and because we gather lots of information about the project to send out to Hands On supporters every month, it really creates a strong emotional bond between the Catholic community here in England and Wales and the community in Kitui. Something I have been very keen to do is to find ways for supporters to send their own messages of encouragement to Kitui.

Last Christmas everyone who had donated to Hands On was sent a card with a message from Kitui and a postcard where they could add their own personal Christmas message in response. The postcards were then sent on to Kenya where they were shared with members of the community and our local partners.

I was delighted by how many hundreds of people took up the opportunity, and was deeply touched by the messages people chose to send. I would like to share a few of these messages with you now. Continue reading “Hands On supporters: building an emotional bond”