In March 2017, a drought in east Africa, combined with terrible violence between the government and rebels, had created a famine in South Sudan. One of CAFOD’s staff based in the country, Emergency Programme Manager Michael O’Riordan, visited people in March to give out food. At that time he reflected on the emotion and power of the experience.
A haunting refrain
When I was leaving Yirol in central South Sudan following a food distribution, an elderly gentleman in his late 60s kept asking why he wasn’t on the list to receive food. He couldn’t work and therefore couldn’t earn a living. Clearly disabled and using a walking stick, he kept pleading “why am I not deserving?”.
This haunting refrain has echoed in my ears ever since. It is not that he is not deserving; we just don’t have enough for everyone.
Having returned to this community after just a few months since the last food distribution, we found a bad situation far worse than we could have imagined. Although we are responding as best we can, it is beyond our ability to meet all needs.
Zoë Corden tells us what it is like working for CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team and what a typical day in the office is like for her.
What is your role at CAFOD?
I am an Emergency Support Officer in the Emergency Response Team. We are a small team of people who are sent into all types of emergencies that CAFOD responds to. My job is to help CAFOD partners when an emergency happens.
What kind of emergencies does CAFOD respond to?
We respond to a range of emergencies and no two are the same. There are ‘rapid onset’ emergencies, that hit suddenly, like earthquakes and floods, which you’ll usually see in the news; but there are also smaller emergencies that sadly don’t make the news, or receive so much money, despite many people being affected – we call these ‘hidden’ emergencies.
I met Mary in the small village of Billing in South Sudan. It took a long time to get here – we travelled for over a day, through several towns and along dusty earth roads. You have to take a UN flight to Bor where you wait for a helicopter to take you across the Nile.
Today was the long journey back to the capital city of Niamey. The journey was certainly long but by no means tedious and I keep reminding myself of the privilege of being here and experiencing the life of the people and a place which could not be much further removed from life in Manchester.
Bishop John Arnold, CAFOD’s Chair of Trustees, is currently visiting Niger. He will be visiting CAFOD partners there, including our Hands On Doutchi project. Bishop John is also keen to build stronger links with the local Catholic Church.
Hands On is a special series of CAFOD projects that allows you to support a specific community with a project. Our latest project in Bolivia is still open for new supporters. Find out more about Hands On in Bolivia
Maggie Guy is a CAFOD volunteer from Birmingham diocese. Here she tells us how her parish has been fundraising for the Connect2: Ethiopia scheme.
Our Parish of Corpus Christi in Headington (Oxford) and Our Lady of Lourdes in Wheatley started supporting the community of Sebeya in Ethiopia in 2015. The project has really captured the enthusiasm of the parish and so far we have raised over £3,000.
We have raised money through a variety of activities: In April we had an Ethiopian evening where we enjoyed some delicious Ethiopian food, held a traditional coffee ceremony and had an illustrated talk from Tony Fitzgerald, a parishioner from our previous Parish in Camberley, who had visited the area. His pictures of a completed irrigation project in nearby Biera, supported by CAFOD Connect2, were profoundly moving; we could see a green valley, in marked contrast to the surrounding arid region, which should help protect the community from drought. Continue reading “Connect2: Ethiopia: Standing with Sebeya”
About this project: The community of Kitui in Kenya have spent two years working on a project to re-sculpt their landscape and bring back a sustainable supply of water. This has all been possible thanks to generous supporters in the UK. Our next project is beginning soon – find out more and get involved.
Over the last two years we have planted trees, dug terraces, built dams and learned everything necessary to bring safe water back to the Kitui community.
Grace Cowley coordinates CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day Appeal. Here she tells us why she’s so passionate about Gift Aid and the difference it makes to CAFOD’s partners around the world.
The Gift Aid system, which gives back tax to charities from donations from tax payers, has just turned 25 years old. You’ll have seen Gift Aid forms when making donations, but it may surprise you just how special this little form is.
“It might just be a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made up of lots of drops.” Evelina Manola, Caritas Hellas in Greece
In the past 25 years, CAFOD has received £42 million in Gift Aid. That money can be used for any project around the world, which means it can pay for work in places of great poverty, which perhaps aren’t in the headlines.
This is the heart of why Gift Aid is brilliant – because it enables more people to overcome poverty and injustice. The Gift Aid on £1 – 25p – could buy enough rice to feed a family for a day after a natural disaster. The Gift Aid on a £10 Fast Day donation – £2.50 – could pay for antibiotics at a health centre in Niger. Continue reading “How far does your Gift Aid go?”
Work continues at great pace as we hurry to get the Musosya dam ready for the coming rains. One fantastic piece of news is that our reservoir is now holding water, which had been in the ground following the previous rains. This means that even during dry periods the community here is able to access clean water for their households – a wonderful achievement.
We would also be delighted to take this time to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas. Please do keep Kitui in your thoughts at this joyous time, we have made so much progress thanks to your kindness.
Gabions are wire cages filled with rocks, which sit across tributaries to the reservoir. When it rains, they will reduce the speed of the streams and will trap silt, stopping it running into the reservoir itself.