Lenten works of mercy: Welcome the newcomer

Jo Kitterick is Head of Development Education at CAFOD. In this blog she describes meeting Fr Paul, Director of Caritas Lebanon and hearing a powerful story of mercy, love and hope.

How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!’ (Misericordia Vultus April 2015)

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Students at Cardinal Newman School, Luton, commit to CAFOD Lent actions for the Year of Mercy

Across schools, parishes and cathedrals, momentum has been gathering to mark the Year of Mercy. I hear talk of holy doors, children writing poems and prayers on mercy, people making time to reflect on how we really open our hearts to God and to others.

CAFOD partner, Fr Paul, Director of Caritas Lebanon, passed through the door of CAFOD’s London office just two weeks ago. I had the privilege of speaking with him before he left to return home to Beirut.

The civil war in Lebanon was a regular news item on the television when I was a child. Lebanon continues to be in the news because this small country of just over four million is hosting over a million refugees affected by the war in Syria. The door to these refugees’ homes are the flaps of tents, openings to disused buildings. Some are doors shared with local families. The bed for a family can be a towel or a cloth on a cold concrete floor.

Continue reading “Lenten works of mercy: Welcome the newcomer”

Step into the Gap – Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Jason Sheehan talks about how he has been inspired by the people volunteering with CAFOD partners who he met in Zimbabwe:

Jason has been inspired by the volunteers he has met in Zimbabwe
Jason has been inspired by the volunteers he has met in Zimbabwe

I sometimes get asked why it is that I’m volunteering a year of my life and at first I struggled to answer that question. But with the privilege I have had to meet volunteers across the world here in Zimbabwe it has shown me that to volunteer is a true act of love. The one thing that has been a constant throughout all the partners we have met with is that the incredible work going on each day couldn’t be done without people in the communities volunteering their time, knowledge and abilities.

Volunteer with CAFOD

We met with ‘Mavambo’ whose name carries a strong message. Mavambo translates to ‘The Beginning’, as their aim is to give disadvantaged and vulnerable children a beginning in life.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Volunteering in Zimbabwe”

Hands On Kitui: Looking to the future

About Hands On: Hands On is a special series of CAFOD projects, that are funded directly by supporters. Hands On Kitui is our first project, and although this is coming to an end, our newest project community are in need of support.

Find out more and get involved

February 2016 Kitui update

While work is continuing on the main dam and the other final improvements, as we approach the end of our project we can’t help but think further into the future.

With this in mind, some of our next steps will be to prepare everyone here for the years ahead, to ensure our successes continue for generations.

We will be providing training for the local management committee on project management and team-building, and working with local primary schools to set up a conservation club.

If you’re looking for inspiration, reflection and prayers this Lent, our Lent calendar has daily updates for the whole season. Continue reading “Hands On Kitui: Looking to the future”

Step into the Gap Peru – Working together 

Alice Bowers reflects on the final few days spent in Peru by the Step into the Gap volunteers:

The volunteers with Manuel, Dora and Roberto from EDUCA
The volunteers with Manuel, Dora and Roberto from EDUCA

Our final days here in Peru have been spent with CAFOD partners EDUCA and IES who work on helping young people start businesses and to understand and counteract violence, amongst other things. It has been so nice to see first-hand the work of our partners. These two are no exception with the hope they offer for the future of Peru and the successes of the projects they run. They are constantly changing and adapting to the needs that arise for the people they work with. They are so grateful to CAFOD and its supporters.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal

Salir adelante” is a phrase that has been used predominantly in these three weeks. It means “to move forward”. This has been something striking about people here in Peru, and the work that CAFOD’s partners are doing through the backing of supporters. People gain real satisfaction from working towards that goal. It has been seen in young people standing up for their rights and against violence, right through to the older generations working in collaboration, partly for company but also to take action together.   Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Working together “

CAFOD staff are thirsty for a challenge this Lent

Mariacristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who have taken up some really exciting challenges this Lent.

CAFOD staff ready for Lent challenges
All motivated to succeed with our Lent challenges

Lent is a special moment for many people at CAFOD and, like every year, we got together to make this Lent count. So many people shared with me their Lenten projects and I am really excited to tell you about some of the things that my colleagues are up to.

Hopefully you will feel inspired by some of the ideas and please keep us in your thoughts and prayers while we carry on with our Lenten challenges.

Take on a Lent challenge of your own with our top six fundraising ideas

Hearing about what some of my colleagues are doing this Lent,  I felt moved by their Lenten commitment.

Continue reading “CAFOD staff are thirsty for a challenge this Lent”

Speaking at Mass: telling real stories of real people

CAFOD young leader practices Lent Fast Day talk
A CAFOD young leader practices the Lent Fast Day talk

Each Fast Day, hundreds of CAFOD volunteers arrange to speak at Masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. Jed Murphy, a volunteer from the Southwark diocese, is one of these volunteers.  He shares with us how he started volunteering and his top tips for a successful Fast Day talk.

Just over seven years ago I had one of those life-changing moments. I had a day’s annual leave and was lazing on my couch at home. Around me was every conceivable gadget you could think of:  large TV, games console, several tablets & smartphones.  And I thought to myself:  I have all this and yet so many people around the world have nothing.   I could not help but think it wasn’t right.

I felt that something had to change. I had to try and do something to make a difference.

I had grown up with CAFOD. I knew that they helped people in need around the world: but I knew little more than that.  So I found the CAFOD website, learned a little more about what they did and clicked on a link to apply to be a volunteer.   I wasn’t sure what I could do, or how I could help.

As part of the process I met one of the regional volunteer managers. His name was Jim and he was amazing.  One of the things that he suggested was whether I would be willing to speak at Masses and make the appeal in support of CAFOD’s Lent and Harvest Fast Days.

And I have been doing that for the last seven years. Continue reading “Speaking at Mass: telling real stories of real people”

Step into the Gap – Empowering women in Peru

Michelle Udoh, one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Peru, has written about the impact of meeting women supported by our partner, Solidaridad:

Michelle (second left) with women from Solidaridad
Michelle (second left) and gap year volunteers with women from Solidaridad

CAFOD has worked with the NGO Solidaridad since 1997. It promotes women’s empowerment, especially women living in poverty. In Lima, Solidaridad works in Lomas de Carabayllo. Their work has always been about the women, about their self-esteem, about knowing what your rights are and being able to exercise them. Through workshops, Solidaridad has trained many women in skills such as cooking, pastry making, sewing, and hairdressing, with the hope that they will be able to gain financial independence.

Learn about CAFOD’s gender work

When we went to visit Sweet Temptations, the baking company that was set up by some of the women Solidaridad supports, we spent a day in the life of the women who work there: helping them bake, selling their pastries, and listening to the stories that they eagerly wanted to share. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Empowering women in Peru”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – living as a child with a disability

Katy Lowrey, one of our gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe, has written about how CAFOD is helping children living with disabilities:

The 11-18 group at the rehabilitation centre
The 11-18 group at the rehabilitation centre

Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Everyone we have met over the past two weeks have been amazing, friendly and kind to those around them. We met these people at the previous partners we visited, Mavambo and Mashambanzou, and now also at St Albert’s, where we have been staying during the week.

The Chitemamuswe Rehabilitation Centre for children

On the second day of our stay with St Albert’s we visited the Chitemamuswe Rehabilitation Centre. This centre is for children, from babies to 19-year-olds, and is a place for those with disabilities to come and feel accepted and part of a community as some of their own communities may have rejected them due to their disability. The centre was set up by Mathew Chitemamuswe in 2013 to help people living with disabilities and with HIV and AIDS.

Katy has seen how CAFOD supports children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe
Katy has seen how CAFOD supports children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe

The centre’s work is split into three age groups. Mrs Savah runs the youngest age group, with the main aim to prepare the young children for when they start school, as they need to know how to cope with their disability without the technology or accessories that are available elsewhere. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – living as a child with a disability”

Youth leaders: Hannah reflects on the European refugee crisis

Hannah Remm is a youth worker at The Briars, the residential youth centre for the Diocese of Nottingham. Over the past year Hannah has been involved with CAFOD’s ambassador scheme, and recently she gathered with other youth leaders to spend time reflecting on the current refugee crisis and CAFOD’s response in Syria and Europe.

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Hannah is a member of the Briars youth team in Nottingham diocese

As a part of our CAFOD Ambassadors scheme, we a day at the CAFOD office at Romero House discussing the topic of refugees. We looked at the language we associate with refugees, the stories that we had heard in the news and on social media along with other information about the European refugee crisis. Some of the things discussed did shock me a little, especially when we looked at how often the media portrays refugees in in a dehumanising way, such as the refugees in Calais living in ‘The Jungle’ camp, or politicians referring to them arriving in ‘swarms’. As a group we realised that the language we use is so important. Refugees are still people – people with families, emotions, hope and dreams just like us. Continue reading “Youth leaders: Hannah reflects on the European refugee crisis”

Step into the Gap Peru – Water is a precious commodity

Bea Findley, one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers, has written about how water shortages are affecting communities in Peru:

Bea (second right) and fellow gap year volunteers at Lake Parón in Peru
Bea (second right) and fellow gap year volunteers at Lake Parón in Peru

We are about half way through our time in Peru now and I can’t believe it! It’s all happening so fast – I wish I could slow it down! I had a great week last week with partners on the outskirts of Lima and this week, we’re amongst the mountains.

We’ve been spending time with CAFOD partner CEAS, which is a social action commission of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.

CEAS’ work in Ancash is about fair water distribution and empowering the local community. All the water sustaining this region is from Lake Parón – an incredible natural resource high in the mountains. Streams and rivers flow down the mountains from the lake to all of the communities and families. Lake Parón sits beneath glaciers. As they melt and the rain falls, the lake fills and sends water to the communities. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Water is a precious commodity”