Cameron is a CAFOD young leader and volunteered at Flame 2017, an event for 10,000 young Catholics on 11 March. Alongside around 50 other young volunteers, he ran activities with the Flame crowd to raise awareness of CAFOD and global justice issues.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with CAFOD at Flame. This was an enjoyable experience and I had a really nice day. For anyone who doesn’t know, Flame is a Catholic event held at the SSE Arena, Wembley. At Flame there are many different speakers and performers such as Matt Redman.
The day started with joining the mini bus in order to take us to Wembley. As we arrived we got into the groups got to know what activities we’d be running as we were volunteering and not just here to watch the performances!
“I have learnt so much about the refugee situation as well as about myself and I will be using my strength in faith to guide me when sharing about my experience in Lebanon.”
Ryan Wilkinson is a 19 year old CAFOD volunteer from Sheffield who recently travelled with CAFOD to meet refugees in Lebanon.
My recent visit to Lebanon has had such a large, positive impact on my life and has made me want to encourage others to learn more about the refugee crisis.
It was such incredible experience to meet refugees who Association Najdeh and Caritas Lebanon, the two CAFOD partners that I visited, reach and help in different camps and shelters. Having the opportunity to talk to people who are refugees, and the staff at the organisations was so inspiring for me as it made me think more about my life and how I can do more to encourage change.
There were times during my visit where it left me emotionally drained as I was hearing many emotional stories about what people are going through, and how their lives have changed since moving to Lebanon.
Leah Fox is a CAFOD volunteer from Newcastle who has spent the past year working with young people to help them better understand the plight of refugees. She recently travelled with CAFOD to meet refugees in Lebanon who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
My overall experience in Lebanon was amazing; I feel extremely privileged to have had an opportunity to go and experience first-hand what life is like in the refugee camps. There was so much to learn and it was great to meet so many different people from many different walks of life.
In the camps we met Syrian and Palestinian refugees who had been in Lebanon for a long time. We also met Palestinian refugees from Syria, who initially moved there because of conflict but are now in Lebanon.
Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.
‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.
In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.
Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!
Hannah, our gap year volunteer at St Mary’s Academy in Blackpool is getting ready for a Brighten Up event for Harvest. Here are her tips for a great fundraiser.
The Chaplaincy Team at St. Mary’s are Brightening Up for Harvest Fast Day this year with a handful of activities for students and staff to get involved in throughout the week. These include quizzes, fairground games and taste tests! The grande finale of the week will be a Staff Talent Show, taking place at lunchtime so that the students can buy tickets to see it.
The staff at St. Mary’s are clearly a talented bunch, they’ll be showing off their breakdancing, singing, musical instruments and will even perform some drama! Our students are in for a treat as they’ll be Brightening Up their school uniform with colourful accessories and CAFOD wristbands.
Clare Grimes is a CAFOD schools volunteer working with children in the Hallam diocese. Over the last few months Clare has been running the Year of Mercy pilgrimage with children, and has been encouraging schools to take part in the refugee action.
‘I was moved by the child who shared that his hope was to see the world at peace with no more wars.‘
Friday 17 June was a nice sunny day and I felt very happy to be visiting St Thomas More school in Sheffield to hold a ‘Welcome the stranger’ refugee workshop with a Year 6 class. Alex and Rose, two other volunteers for CAFOD were also coming to help. I had led this workshop with other schools and had excellent response and participation, so I was really looking forward to another opportunity. The children entered the hall very quietly and looked happy and expectant.
We began with a presentation of various pictures of refugees and shared the facts and figures. The children answered questions intelligently and eagerly. When asked about their hopes and dreams they were forthcoming and shared their aspirations to be actresses, doctors, teachers, just to get married, Olympic athletes, and footballers of note.
I was moved by the child who shared that his hope was to see the world at peace with no more wars.
We then showed the film/video of the refugee children and their hopes and dreams.
We’d like to introduce and welcome the new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers as they settle into their placements this week. Read on to find out a little bit about the 2016/2017 team as they gear up for a year of volunteering with CAFOD.
James – St Mary’s High School, Lancaster
Six years ago I would have never had imagined I would be where I am today. I first got involved in CAFOD’s work in 2010 when I was invited to become another parish representative in church. Since that time, I have helped raise over £7,000 and have taken part in numerous rallies and lobbies, including the Enough Food for Everyone IF Rally in 2013 and the ‘Speak up for the Love of’ Lobby of Parliament in 2015.
This year, I hope to use my skills and knowledge at St Mary’s, where I’ll be part of the chaplaincy team, to put my faith into action. We’ll be supporting the college students at St Mary’s and pupils at Christ the King primary school, and will be fundraising and getting students involved in CAFOD’s work.
This week mother-of-three Catherine Jones is saying goodbye to the summer holidays and preparing for a new school term. In this blog she talks about her hopes for the year ahead.
The youngest of our three children, Martha, starts in year 1 this week. And after the summer break, my immediate thoughts are practical. How on earth will we all manage to be out of the house before 8.30am? Where is the favourite Star Wars lunch box? Do the PE kits still fit?
I remember different feelings a year ago, when Martha began in reception. We had celebrated her 4th birthday just days before and now she was off to big school. She looked so small in her uniform, with her huge school bag and shiny new shoes. How would she react when we had to say goodbye at the door? Would the teacher allow her to keep hold of her cuddly monkey?
And the fears don’t go away. Will school restrict Martha’s curiosity and imagination? Will she make friends? Trying to support her and her big brother and sister as they come to the realisation that there are people in their class and the world who are very different to them.
Flavia has been volunteering for CAFOD this year as part of the Young Leadership Programme. She’s had a busy year of fundraising, campaigning and raising awareness in her school of CAFOD’s work and social justice issues that are important to her.
Earlier this year Flavia was nominated for the Dorothy Day award, a Million Minutes award for fostering community participation. Here is an extract from her sixth form leavers’ speech, where she reflected on the journey she’s had in college and with CAFOD over the past twelve months.
My journey began last year when I went on a climate change rally to lobby MPs. At first I wasn’t very interested in the topic, however after going on the rally and understanding the impact that our voice has in the world we live in, it really surprised me that I can make a change. It may not be a massive change, but I learnt very quickly throughout this year that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
CAFOD ambassador Bethan is based with Southwark Catholic Youth Service.
I was at St. George’s Cathedral recently, working with young people making their Confirmation and I heard a talk from Laura at CAFOD, about her personal experience of the refugee crisis. She spoke about her visit to Lesbos and we were introduced to a new prayer resource inspired by a carpenter who has created crosses from a boat that capsized carrying hundreds of refugees, near a place called Lampedusa. These crosses were given to the survivors from the boat as a symbol and sign of hope.