Bearing witness to mercy

Rachel McCarthy works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. She reflects on the inspiring prayers, gifts and actions of the Catholic community throughout this Year of Mercy.

At the beginning of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis proclaimed, “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!”

I have been amazed by the ways you have borne witness to God’s mercy this year, through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Thank you for all you do to stand alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty. Here, we celebrate how you have brought mercy to your local communities and our world.

Download Year of Mercy prayers

Feed the hungry

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A Harvest offering for people who are hungry

This Harvest, St John Bosco’s parish in Woodley offered gifts to people who are hungry around world.

Rita Belletty said, “This year we held a creation mass and Harvest offering. It is a token offered back to God in thanksgiving for the gift of fruitful earth, sun and water, joined by our own labour, making us co-creators with God. The second offering was a globe which was taken up to remind us that it is the whole world we are praying for.”

Continue reading “Bearing witness to mercy”

Philippines Typhoon: Three years on

Sophie Allin is CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager for the Philippines. Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines three years ago, she has seen communities rebuild their lives with the help of CAFOD’s local partners. Here she tells us what has been achieved with the generous donations of our supporters.

One of the new schools re-built after Typhoon Haiyan by CAFOD’s partner in Bantayan
One of the new schools re-built after Typhoon Haiyan by CAFOD’s partner in Bantayan

This November, we remember those who lost their lives three years ago to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. As communities brace themselves for new typhoons, we continue to support people to rebuild their lives and hopes.

Help CAFOD respond to emergencies around the world by giving a regular gift

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013. More than 6,000 people died and five million families lost their homes. On a recent visit, I met with some of the communities CAFOD has been working with over the last three years, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

Continue reading “Philippines Typhoon: Three years on”

Building a future of hope for Afghanistan

Hannah Caldwell, CAFOD’s legacy officer, reflects on how gifts in wills help communities look to the future with hope.

The Oxford dictionary defines the word “legacy” as: “Something left or handed down by a predecessor.”

Working for CAFOD’s legacy team, I always think of a legacy in hugely positive terms. To me, it means a gift, carefully and faithfully given, to help continue the values of love and hope that a person held dear during their lifetime. It’s a gift that will reach out and help build a brighter future for generations to come.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your will

But perhaps I’m biased. For many, the word conjures up a gloomier image. It can, for example, be used to describe the long lasting, deep reaching effects of war or injustice. Continue reading “Building a future of hope for Afghanistan”

Harvest Gospel Reflection: “Pray continually and never lose heart”

Paul Howes, Head of Directorate at CAFOD, has written this reflection and prayer based on the gospel for Sunday 16 October (Luke 18:1-8). Sign up to receive weekly reflections from CAFOD by email

“Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.”

Pope Francis in Lesbos
“Pope Francis invites us to step back and make time for reflection”

Jesus tells us a story that is all too true – a defenceless widow is taken advantage of and refused her rights.

The judge and widow in this parable represent opposite ends of the social spectrum. The judge is the epitome of power and the widow the epitome of powerlessness. Through sheer persistence she wears down the unscrupulous judge until he gives her justice.

We see that persistence pays off and that through faith and trust in God, and prayer, all things can become possible.

Help beat hunger in Bolivia with a monthly gift

Of course we prefer prayer to grant what we ask for as soon as we ask it. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis refers to the process of ‘rapidification’, the continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet coupled with a more intensified pace of life and work.

We have become used to things happening instantaneously. We expect medicine to give instant relief. We expect technology to instantly connect us to family on the other side of the world.

Jhonny's greenhouse, Bolivia
Greenhouses like this one on the Bolivian Altiplano protect crops from the harsh environment all year round.

We expect an instant return on our investments. Shouldn’t it be the same with prayer?

But God does not promise instant answers to prayers. Pope Francis invites us to step back and make time for reflection. This is the same with prayer. We need the persistence and the faith of the defenceless widow.

£17 a month, over the next two years, can buy the materials to build a greenhouse

Lord, give me the perseverance and patience to make time for prayer and for you. Help me to understand that you are always there for me and that my prayers, so far as they are for my good, will be heard. Amen.

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World Food Day: Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too

For the last 70 years, World Food Day has been celebrated on 16 October to raise awareness of all those who suffer from hunger. With our climate rapidly changing, the way we grow food must also change. This World Food Day, Sally Kitchener shares how Susana in Bolivia is working with one of CAFOD’s partners to learn how to adapt to the changing climate.

Susana on her land in the Altiplano, Bolivia.
With the climate changing, Susana is struggling to grow enough food on her farm in Bolivia.

“God made us from the earth, from the land. And He also told us to work the land.” 58-year-old Susana Marca Escobar furrows her brow as her eyes scan across her farm.

“But the climate is changing. The heat burns the land and the soil is like fire. Our poor little plants, when they are just seedlings, how can they survive?”

Susana has been working the land her entire life. When she was a teenager, she already knew how to grow the staple foods common in this area of Bolivia – potatoes, beans, quinoa and maize.

It has never been an easy job. The Altiplano where she lives is around 12,000 feet above sea level and not only suffers from a lack of water, but from unpredictable hail storms that often appear without warning. The hailstones can devastate an entire field of potatoes in a matter of minutes, wiping out months of hard work and destroying families’ food supply and their only method of earning money.

Donate to help families in Bolivia when their crops are destroyed

The conditions here have always been tough for those who make a living from the land, but Susana remembers a different time. Continue reading “World Food Day: Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”

Harvest 2016: Battles in the garden in Bolivia and back home in the UK

Conditions on the Bolivian Altiplano are tough
Conditions on the Bolivian Altiplano are tough. Even when the harvest is good, Vladimir and Maria’s diet is mainly potatoes and beans

Laura Ouseley works in CAFOD’s Media team. This Harvest, inspired by the efforts of our partners in Bolivia, Laura tells us about her own struggles for vegetable garden bliss.

I’ve only had my allotment a couple of years, but have already learnt so much. My friends and family have also learnt – the hard way – that it is now my favourite (and they would argue, only) topic of conversation!

Join us in helping Bolivian families enjoy bountiful harvests

Whilst I’ve discovered so much about the different varieties of fruit and vegetables that can be grown, I’ve learnt far more about the challenges faced by the grower: from fighting back pests, preventing the spread of disease, removing stubborn weeds and preparing soil, to trying to deal with the impacts of unpredictable weather and climate.

Continue reading “Harvest 2016: Battles in the garden in Bolivia and back home in the UK”

Climate action in the Philippines

CAFOD, as part of The Climate Coalition, is leading a week of action on climate and energy. In this blog CAFOD volunteer Alice explains how the changing climate is affecting communities in the Philippines.

 ‘Climate change is a global issue…it really is a task for the whole world to take on and work together to counteract.’

 My Step into the Gap year has come to an end, but is still playing a part in my life!

Alice (second from right) in Peru as part of the Step into the Gap programme.

I spent some time during my year volunteering with CAFOD visiting CAFOD partners overseas to better understand how the changing climate is affecting people in communities where they work. The experience has really inspired me to continue volunteering.I heard about the Assumption Volunteers through CAFOD, and I’m now spending a year with them, and am volunteering for the environment office in the municipal government in the Philippines.

It’s the Speak Up week of action. Join an event near you

Continue reading “Climate action in the Philippines”

Harvest Fast Day: bearing witness to life-changing work

David Mutua, CAFOD’s Africa News Officer based in Nairobi, reflects on some of the invaluable projects he has seen helping people to grow food in Kenya.

John waters crops beside his greenhouse - Kenya
“Farming has ensured that my children do not sleep hungry and we live much better than we did.” John

Kenya is renowned not only for its award-winning beaches but also the breathtaking safaris. Alongside the 47 million citizens who call Kenya home, many people across the United Kingdom have a special place in their hearts for my country. Members of the British Royal Family have holidayed amidst some of our natural beauty spots on the foothills of Mount Kenya.

Away from the tourist brochures, the lives of so many are being disrupted by the adverse effects of climate change. For people who have always lived off the land, who depend on it to feed their families and earn a living, these changes are having a dramatic impact.

CAFOD food and farming projects in northern Kenya

In June I headed to Maralal and Marsabit in northern Kenya, where CAFOD is working on a climate and agriculture programme funded by our Lent 2015 appeal. The UK government matched pound for pound £5m raised by CAFOD’s supporters, and we are using part of this money to work alongside our partners Caritas Maralal and Caritas Marsabit to teach more than 97,000 community members sustainable farming methods that can be adopted in the very unforgiving environment.

This Harvest, fast for a day and send in the money you save

In Maralal town, climate change has caused rainfall to decrease and become erratic. Water sources have dried up and there’s less pasture for the predominantly pastoralist Samburu community to graze their cattle. Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: bearing witness to life-changing work”

Hands On for a bountiful harvest this CAFOD Fast Day

Today, on CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day, so many of our brothers and sisters around the world are still not able to grow enough food. Sally Kitchener shares one mother’s mission to grow enough food and how you can support her along her journey.

Nicanora harvests potatoes in the Altiplano, Bolivia
Nicanora harvests potatoes

As the midday sun beats down on the Bolivian Altiplano, Nicanora swings the heavy wooden hoe into the soil once more and prises up half a dozen small potatoes. She pauses, straightens, and rests a hand on her aching back. The 32-year-old mother of four has been working since dawn. But however hard she works, Nicanora knows that when she gets to the end of the day, her children will still go to bed hungry.

“The days when we don’t have much food, we eat a soup of ground barley mixed with water,” says Nicanora, her gaze resting on the failing onion crop by her side. “When we eat just this soup all day, we get tired very quickly.”

Help Bolivian farmers like Nicanora this Harvest

With last year’s food store about to run out and the next harvest still three months away, the family are facing crisis point. Two months ago, Nicanora’s husband Santiago was forced to leave the family farm in search of income. Every day for the past two months Nicanora has risen at dawn and worked the land on her own. Tomorrow she will do the same, because she doesn’t know when her husband will return.

With her own education cut short, Nicanora refuses to take any of her children out of school. So she battles on against the tough growing conditions, harvesting just enough to keep the family going. Continue reading “Hands On for a bountiful harvest this CAFOD Fast Day”

UK Aid Match: Where the money goes

Farmer, Mahamoud Ibrahim in Northern Kenya. Farmers like Mahamoud are being supported by UK Aid Match funding.

CAFOD communications officer, David Mutua in Nairobi writes on an incredible project in northern Kenya that is supporting hard-working families there to make a living. Thanks to your donations during Lent last year, which were matched by the UK government, the people in this small community are turning their lives around.

Just after daylight at Darakabicha location, Marsabit County, northern Kenya, Mahamoud bids good day to his wife. He grabs his watering can and hoe and begins the two kilometre walk to his farm. He makes his way through the lifting fog and braving the chilly morning, resolute that no matter the weather he will make the best of the day. Mahamoud finished high school but with no money to pay for further education, he resorted to the family’s way of life, farming.

Support people like Mahamoud around the world

Continue reading “UK Aid Match: Where the money goes”