Step into the Gap: A diagnosis does not define you

 Hannah Henley, who is currently taking part in CAFOD’s Step in the Gap, writes this report about meeting an inspirational mother and son in Ethiopia. She explains how with the help of CAFOD’s local partners, people are not only living but thriving with a HIV positive status.

Step into the Gap volunteers with Sr Evlyn, who works at the Daughters of Charity HIV project.
Step into the Gap volunteers with Sr Evlyn, who works at the Daughters of Charity HIV project.

The first few days of our Ethiopian adventure have been full of inspiration, admiration and flavour. We have been staying with CAFOD partners, The Daughters of Charity, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

I think I can speak for the whole group when I say we couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome – and that’s nothing to do with the 27 degrees weather. We have been lucky enough to spend time three wonderful sisters, CAFOD staff, and are getting to know our driver Soloman.

The Daughters of Charity run a HIV and AIDS clinic. The project provides testing for HIV, a HIV prevention programme, financial support, heath and sanitation training and business training.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap: A diagnosis does not define you”

Great Generation: Speak up for CAFOD this Lent!

Young leaders from Portsmouth Diocese, spoke up for CAFOD this Harvest by running an assembly in their school. (Emily, front row, centre.)
Young leaders from Portsmouth Diocese spoke up for CAFOD this Harvest by running an assembly in their school. (Emily, front row, centre.)

Emily is training as a CAFOD young leader volunteer in Portsmouth Diocese. Alongside other young leaders, this Harvest she spoke up for CAFOD at her school by running an assembly. Their assembly helped fundraise a record amount!

 CAFOD’s Brighten Up campaign this Harvest was an opportunity for all of us involved in the CAFOD young leadership programme at my college to co-ordinate our own fundraising in aid of CAFOD’s work, focusing on their partnership in Bolivia.

By using an assembly and service as our main means of communication to students and staff at our school, we were able to get across the message of CAFOD in such a positive way and give CAFOD a new face at our school. By literally trying to Brighten Up this Harvest, we encouraged our student body to all wear scarves to our Harvest Festival whilst giving charitable donations which made for a much ‘brighter’ day!

Speak up for CAFOD this Lent Fast Day, 10 March, in your parish or your secondary school. Continue reading “Great Generation: Speak up for CAFOD this Lent!”

Living out our values

Dr Susy Brouard with Laudato Si'
Dr Susy Brouard is a Theological Advisor to CAFOD

Dr Susy Brouard is CAFOD’s Theological advisor and has a passion for Catholic social teaching. Here she explains how our values were chosen and how CAFOD staff try to live them out in their everyday work.

Fourteen years ago today I started working at CAFOD. My role was to help the Catholic community make connections between their faith and issues of justice. However, after seven years my role changed and I was asked to work specifically with CAFOD staff, helping them to understand how our values are rooted in Catholic social teaching (CST) and the implications of this for their work.

What are CAFOD’s values and how were they chosen?

Before 1996, CAFOD did not name any specific principles from CST, but stated more generally that we shared “in the process of integral human development and the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth”.

However, in 1996 we explicitly stated our Vision, Mission and Values. The VMV, as they became known, were created with input from staff, from CAFOD supporters and from our overseas partners. At this stage, our values were named as: compassion, solidarity, partnership, integrity of creation, stewardship and hope.

Follow our weekly Gospel reflections Continue reading “Living out our values”

January exercise: Four reasons to be hopeful for 2017

Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer for CAFOD. Here he shares his four reasons to be hopeful for the year ahead.

CAFOD climate campaign
CAFOD staff members take part in a Climate Campaign outside Westminster Cathedral.

This is a great January exercise: take five minutes to come up with four reasons to be hopeful with the world around us.

I’ll admit right now, it’s not easy. One in every 113 people in the world is now either a refugee, an internally displaced person or an asylum-seeker. Picture the Christmas Eve Mass now – that’s at least one person in the service. If you’ve got a school assembly this week, take a look around. That will probably mean perhaps five of that assembly will be a person who has had to leave their home because they were forced to.

Follow us online and make 2017 the year you speak out against poverty and injustice!

Continue reading “January exercise: Four reasons to be hopeful for 2017”

Step into the Gap: My year with CAFOD

Applications for Step into the Gap 2017 are now open. Ever wondered what life is like for a gapper? Read on to find out! Katy was part of last year’s team, based at St Mary’s Academy in Lancaster.

In October 2015 I wrote a blog about how I was feeling starting the CAFOD gap year. I was excited, nervous and ready for a unique experience. I got it.

In the last week of August I moved up to Blackpool, into St John Vianney’s Presbytery to start my gap year at St Mary’s Catholic Academy. We lived with the Parish priest, Fr Peter, and it quickly became home away from home. I lived there with Peter and Michelle, the second gapper at St Mary’s, and we had so much fun! Living in the parish we got to socialise and become a part of the parish, they were all so welcoming and lovely.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

Continue reading “Step into the Gap: My year with CAFOD”

The first Family Fast Day

CAFOD was founded when women from the National Board of Catholic Women, the Catholic Women’s League and the Union of Catholic Mothers organised the first CAFOD Family Fast Day in 1960. Mildred Nevile, who was involved at the time, shares her memories of this key moment in CAFOD history.

Women of the World, with Sr Alicia - CAFOD
The group who organised the first Family Fast Day, with CAFOD’s first partner, Sr Alicia.

When Fast Day first took place, many families saw it as an opportunity to practice giving something up – voluntarily – and for the sake of others.

In the early 1960s, the Catholic community was much less affluent than it is today. Many people had known hardship and poverty and had sympathy for those who were struggling to survive.

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Frequently those opening the envelopes from Fast Day appeals were deeply humbled by the letters that accompanied donations. Continue reading “The first Family Fast Day”

Youth leaders: Georgia’s year ahead

CAFOD Youth leader ambassadors 2016-7
CAFOD Youth leader ambassadors 2016-7 (Georgia centre, seated.)

Georgia is a youth leader at The Briars Catholic youth retreat centre. This year she will work with hundreds of young people, enabling them to explore their faith. She has just started a year volunteering with CAFOD as a youth ambassador, championing global justice work in her centre. Here she reflects on her year ahead.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of CAFOD’s ambassador first training programme, in which myself and eight other youth ministers joined forces to work together on how we could further raise awareness on the current refugee crisis.

Write a message of hope to refugees in your parish or your youth group or class. Continue reading “Youth leaders: Georgia’s year ahead”

The long road to peace in Guatemala

At the beginning of a new year, Laura Ouseley in our communications team has been looking into the situation in Guatemala and hoping for a brighter and more peaceful future for Guatemala’s indigenous peoples.

Indigenous women from Alta Verapaz supported by CAFOD’s local Church partner Pastoral Social - Caritas Verapaz
Indigenous women from Alta Verapaz supported by CAFOD’s local Church partner Pastoral Social – Caritas Verapaz

Twenty years have passed since Guatemala’s decades-long internal armed conflict was ended with Peace Accords signed in 1996. An estimated 200,000 civilians were killed or disappeared during the conflict, most at the hands of the military, police and intelligence services.

The 1996 Peace Accords aimed not just to put an end to the conflict, but to address its underlying causes, and to guarantee the rights of victims to truth, justice, reparation and no-repetition.

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Guatemala

But despite being ‘at peace’ for twenty years, the country remains one of the most dangerous places in the world, and those who suffered most in the conflict – indigenous peoples – continue to face discrimination and poverty. So, what has been achieved over the last 20 years, and have indigenous peoples and women been able to access the justice they were promised?

Continue reading “The long road to peace in Guatemala”

2017, the beginning of the end of AIDS?

Madison McCulla works for one of CAFOD’s partners in Uganda, supporting people living with HIV and AIDS. She reflects on the achievements that have been made since the 1980s.

Nalwadda Nuluyati at a consultation with staff at CAFOD partner Kitovu Mobile in Uganda
A consultation at Kitovu Mobile clinic in Uganda

It is possible that AIDS could be eradicated within the next 15 years. If 90 per cent of all people worldwide living with HIV get tested, if 90 per cent of those who test positive go on treatment, and if 90 per cent of the people on treatment have the HIV virus supressed in their body (the UNAIDS targets for 2020), then research predicts that AIDS will be eradicated by 2030.

With more effective methods available and reduced costs for HIV prevention, testing and treatment, a world without AIDS becomes more realistic. However, a lot of work still needs to be done for these ‘ifs’ to be achieved.

Sign up to CAFOD’s e-newsletter for monthly updates on tackling poverty and ways you can be involved. Continue reading “2017, the beginning of the end of AIDS?”

Christmas in Gaza

Mary Lucas, our representative for the Middle East, describes what life is like for one young boy living in Gaza.

mohammed-standing-in-his-destroyed-home-gaza
Mohammed’s home was destroyed in the 2014 conflict in Gaza

Mohammed was just nine when he and his sister, Doha, were orphaned. It was a hot summer in 2014 and the people of Gaza were struggling to survive an extreme military bombardment. Apartment blocks were falling in clouds of dust throughout the territory. Some nights, entire neighbourhoods were given a few minutes’ warning to leave – fleeing their homes to find safety wherever they could.

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Mohammed’s family had to leave their home as it wasn’t safe. They were evacuated to a nearby school and like so many caught up in the conflict, struggled to get the essentials. Water pipes were damaged and food was expensive and running low in shops because of the bombing.

To ensure the family could survive, Mohammed’s parents would wait until there was a ceasefire and run to collect water and food.

That day, they decided to check on the house that they had spent years investing in for their family. As they approached the house, an explosion killed them both instantly. Shortly afterwards, another bomb reduced the house to rubble. Continue reading “Christmas in Gaza”