Richard Sloman is CAFOD’s Middle East Programme Officer. Here he reflects on his time in Lebanon where almost 40 per cent of the population are Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Richard visited one of Lebanon’s twelve Palestinian refugee camps – home to 450,000 people, one in ten of the country’s population.
Bourj el Barajneh in Beirut, Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest refugee camps. Established in 1948, it’s home to more than 31,000 people. These women, men and children live in just one square kilometre of land. That’s roughly 31 people for every square metre of earth.
Chris Bain is CAFOD’s Director. Here he reflects on what CAFOD’s Fast Day means to him and why it is important to come together as a Catholic family this Lent.
Here in Romero House, our Ash Wednesday Mass is rather special. There is a strong sense of community – we stand together, we pray together and we take Communion together. The Mass ends and many of us begin the first fast of Lent by sharing a simple lunch together. And unlike Carol Monaghan, the SNP MP attending a parliamentary committee just after her Ash Wednesday Mass, there is no awkwardness about wearing our ash crosses in our offices.
CAFOD Writer Mark Chamberlain collects three recipes from his colleagues to share with you in case you need inspiration for your Friday fast. Thank you to everyone involved!
Simple soups are all the rage here at CAFOD this Lent. I sat down with a colleague on Monday and we each shared some. If food was music, his was a clever symphony of kale and spinach. Mine was a panicked free-jazz improvisation on the theme of black beans and veg.
In advance of our fast on Friday together, here are three recipes from my wonderful colleagues’ families, just in case you needed inspiration.
Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He spent time with refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in December 2015. On International Families Day, he writes about meeting some of the families there.
Razir is a 40-year-old mother of five. It was just after 11 in the morning when I visited her tent.
She offered for me to sit down on the only blanket the family had. I declined, blew into my hands to keep them warm and chose the bare floor instead. It was like sitting on ice.
CAFOD writer, Mark Chamberlain recently travelled to Uganda. This Mothering Sunday, he writes on some of the women he met and how they reminded him of his own family.
There was a point when I stood sheltering from those first welcome rains that everything seemed still. It was so strange. Teko Anna’s children running through that heavy roar – Daphne, her nine-year-old over there under the roof of her uncle’s house, jumping in the quickly forming puddles. The younger ones watching Daphne, following her, copying her actions with awkward limbs, splashing though the same puddles.
Proscovia now through the lines of water running with a box of ducklings, bringing them in from the rain.
Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He travelled to Kitui in Kenya to record some of the work being done as part of Hands On, Kitui. Here he reflects on what makes the project so special.
We were walking through the old Musosya Dam in Kitui, Kenya and my first question wasn’t so much a question as a statement of disbelief, “So, in a few months’ time, this area will be full of water?’ Nicholas Oloo, my colleague from Nairobi, looked at me – a glint in his eye and an almost imperceptible smile, “In Kenya,” he said, “anything is possible.”
Mark Chamberlain is a writer with CAFOD. Already a vegetarian, this Lent he is going vegan by giving up eggs, dairy and honey. He will donate the money he saves to CAFOD and is hoping that his Lenten food choices will help him to reaffirm his belief in non-violence.
I dreamed of an egg last night. A single poached egg, lightly salted on a slice of toast. And as I went to pick up my knife and fork…I woke.
A few years back, when I became vegetarian, I had a similar dream about a giant slice of ham. The ham was huge and was draped over me. I realised the only way to escape was to eat my way out of it. And as I opened my mouth to start feasting…I woke.
I told the ham story to a friend. He had spent time in the Himalayas when he was younger and said when he trekked through the range, his group had run very low on food. After a week or so, he had a dream that his group were all lambs and that the only way to escape starvation was to carry them in his stomach to the nearest town. The good news is, he’s alive and being the lovely chap he is, he didn’t resort to cannibalism.
Carmenza Alvarez is a human rights defender in Colombia and works for an organisation supported by CAFOD and Caritas, Women’s Initiative for Peace. The role is a dangerous one, in 2014 alone 614 human rights defenders were attacked and 55 killed.
For International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March, Carmenza discusses inequality and being trapped in the middle of a fifty-year conflict. She recently spent time in Europe as part of a joint CAFOD, Caritas Colombia, ABColombia and EC project, which sought to help protect human rights defenders in Colombia, with a particular focus on land restitution claimants, women and minority groups.
“In 1991 I was working in a restaurant. It was in an area frequented by the left-wing revolutionary group, FARC. My son was at school and studying. When he finished for the day, a group would come for him and supposedly take him to play football.
Our Fundraising Writer Mark Chamberlain visited Myanmar in 2014 to learn about the effects of storms and extreme weather. Myanmar is the focus for this year’s CAFOD Lent appeal which is being match funded by the UK government.
In June last year, I was lucky enough to spend some time with U Than Win, Martin, Kyin Nu, Zin Thu Thu and U Win Myi the fisherman in Myanmar. While staying in their communities, I kept a diary and made a list of points about surviving the jungle. Here are eleven things I learned:
1. Footwear is essential. No matter how hot it is and how liberating the sensation of the jungle floor on your bare feet is, don’t be tempted to walk around without protection. The jungle is alive with spiders, snakes and the intimidating ‘scorpion king’. Bites can be lethal because both communities were are a long way from a hospital.
2. The ‘scorpion king’ is a giant centipede. It won’t kill if it bites, but it will hurt. A lot. Make sure you move your bed away from a wall if you are near one – this is so it doesn’t creep into bed with you for a snooze.