Eighteen CAFOD supporters gathered in Belgium last month at a sustainability camp. They joined other Catholic sister agencies for a one week camp. They got together to reflect on topics related to climate change, ecological living, Laudato Si’, activism and sustainability. Bridgid Duffy, a CAFOD Climate Champion, shares with us her experience.
After a long, hot day of carrying several tents from the UK to Belgium, we reached our destination – Wereldkamp 2018. We were all invited by CIDSE. CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies working together for global justice. The smiling faces of the CIDSE volunteers were the first people to greet us. As soon as we caught sight of the camp, there was an undeniable sense of community. Children were playing football on the dusty ground under the hazy sunshine. The adults were preparing dinner on the peripheries of the magical forest. In that moment I realized that everyone was there for one common goal: to learn what our role is in creating a more sustainable world. My heart began to race. I knew it was the beginning of a powerful and inspirational week.
You are invited to imagine Dilda’s journey who fled Myanmar. Hear Pope Francis’ call to Share the Journey with our brothers and sisters, with arms wide open.
I invite you to close your eyes for a moment. You are at home. You can see thick smoke rising from the house across the street. People are shouting. Your neighbour’s house is on fire. You escape with your family, leaving everything behind.
You start a long journey to find a new home. You don’t know how long you will be walking, when you will next eat or where you will rest. Alone and afraid… you need someone to talk to, a sister or brother to reach out and share the journey with you…
This was just like Dilda’s journey. She fled Myanmar to escape violence in her village. She says, “We didn’t bring a thing. We just grabbed the children and ran.”
Dilda left behind her home, her possessions – everything – for a temporary shelter on the side of the road. Her children are scarred by what they have seen.
We cannot cross by on the other side while our neighbours are struggling. We can share the journey, we can share our hope.
Communities in the Pacific islands are on the front lines of climate change. Many are being forced to adapt to ever-changing and dangerous weather conditions or flee their lands. Despite this, the Pacific Islands are leading the call for global Climate Action. Auimatagi Joseph Moeono-Kolio is a Pacific Climate Warrior and is also a Consultant for Caritas Oceania. Here, he offers his reflections on the current Climate Crisis to Daniel Hale, CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns.
Daniel Hale: Talofa Auimatagi, thanks for making time to do this. First up, tell me something of the context of Oceania.
Auimatagi Joseph Moeono-Kolio: Talofa, Dan. Thanks for invitation. Well, where to start…the Pacific has been described in many ways by many people. For me, Oceania is a vast, “ocean continent”, with many different cultures and peoples spread over an area of more than 3 million square miles. We are connected by our ocean and shared history of resilience.
We have thousands of small islands, each with their own unique cultures. There’s Hawaii in the north, Rapanui to the West and Aotearoa in the deep south. In Oceania there is Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia and the many islands communities within and then Australia to the West.
Together, there are about 40 million people. We are very much connected to one another, to our Ocean and to our many rich cultures and languages.
Prayer is powerful and it underpins all that we do at CAFOD. Prayer can be a great way to inspire you to campaign too. We can show solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world in prayer, remembering that we are united in one world and one body of Christ. Susy, who works in our theology team shares with us her top 3 prayers for social change.
Those of us who work in overseas development agencies and hear stories regularly from our colleagues about the work our partners are doing, know that we have to act now. People the world over are going hungry, they are struggling for their land rights, they are dealing with natural disasters – we can’t wait a year or two to act.
Zoe Corden from CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team has been in Cox’s Bazar supporting the emergency response. She shares the personal stories of Rohingya refugees forced to flee Myanmar, and now facing the upcoming monsoon season.
I met Solima when she was only 15 days old, and had known nothing but trauma in her short life. Wounded and hungry, she was held in her mother’s arms among hundreds of people sitting on the ground at the entry point to Bangladesh, just waiting in eerie silence.
Solima’s mother, Khodesha, gave birth to her in Myanmar. “Our house was burned,” said her father, Selim. “They took our land and cattle. We hid ourselves in the jungle. We have nothing left.” Eleven of their neighbours were killed, and every house destroyed, when their village in Myanmar’s Rakhine province was attacked.
Her parents waited until Solima was a week old before embarking with her and their three other children on the long, dangerous and exhausting journey to safety in Bangladesh. They were just the latest of 680,000 Rohingya refugees who have had to flee Myanmar since 25 August 2017, arriving with virtually nothing.
Sam has just joined the campaigns team at CAFOD. Read about her journey into campaigning.
My name is Sam and I’m the new Campaigns Engagement Manager at CAFOD. Campaigning has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I put this down to three main reasons: One – I’ve grown up in strongly Catholic campaigning environments. Two – I’m aware that campaigning is a right not everyone in this world has freely. Three – I am committed to addressing this.
Actually, there’s a fourth reason.
There aren’t many campaigners I’ve encountered who look like me. As a British born, working class, black female with Ghanaian parentage, I’m not sure I fit the mould of ‘traditional campaigners’ in the UK.
Is that a problem? Yes, because it doesn’t reflect what really happens in our churches. It doesn’t really reflect the face of the church today. It neglects a large proportion of active Catholics with voices and with power.
Sister Clara is a nun from Zambia. She shares with us how climate change is becoming the main cause of poverty and how renewable energy and your support can make a difference.
Zambia has in recent years experienced extreme shifts in weather patterns. These shifts are resulting in profoundly negative impacts on the economy.
The poorest people living in rural areas, like Mbala in Northern Zambia, are most affected because almost everyone is dependent on farming as their main source of living. In addition, most people do not have access to electricity either because it is too expensive or because the country cannot afford a national grid. So the people of Mbala, and other such villages, are often left without this, the most basic of necessities.
Therefore, as a religious congregation working in Mbala, we have been helping the poorest people. We have been supporting them both materially and financially through the Households in Distress Project (H.I.D).
Last December Sainsbury’s met a group of Fairtraders to talk about tea. Vin Allerton, a long-time Fairtrader in Salford, was one of CAFOD’s delegates. Here he tells us about how the meeting went, and what his next plans are.
Telling Sainsbury’s not to ditch Fairtrade
My wife and I have been Salford Diocese Fairtrade activists for over 20 years, supplying Fairtrade goods in our own parish. In the last 10 years we’ve also provided Fairtrade items to other local parishes, schools and at CAFOD events. This is why, with over 150,000 other people I signed a petition asking Sainsbury’s not to stop the Fairtrade mark on its own-brand Red Label tea. The reaction of Mike Coupe, Sainbury’s Chief Executive, to the petition was not positive. But Sainsbury’s did later go on to agree to a meeting, possibly after seeing the size of the opposition.