Young People in Southwark use CAFOD pilgrimage and write messages of hope for refugees

Bethan with a Lampedusa cross and action card at St. Vincent’s, Whitstable
Bethan with a Lampedusa cross and action card at St. Vincent’s, Whitstable

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.

Learn about CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross

We’ve recently led sessions with young people getting them to use their imagination to put themselves in the perspective of a refugee and we’ve been using a Lampedusa cross and the new CAFOD refugee pilgrimage to help young people pray for those in so much need of hope. Our groups have responded so well to writing messages of hope and welcome to refugees. Continue reading “Young People in Southwark use CAFOD pilgrimage and write messages of hope for refugees”

Learning about climate in class

Katie Thilthorpe works in the CAFOD Schools Team. She recently received a batch of letters and work from children in XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire who have been exploring life in El Salvador.

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Letters to El Salvador

“After I saw your beautiful landscape I wished I could live in El Salvador but the only thing that makes me sad is the water pollution. That’s why we are raising money for your country and right now we have £500. When we raise enough we will send it to CAFOD and they will send it to you. I hope that you will have nice clean water and I hope to see you and the Sierra Madre mountains one day.” Olivia, Year 4.

Since its release in 2015 primary schools across England and Wales have been using CAFOD’s El Salvador geography photo pack, including XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire. All the children in the school aged 7-11 have been using the resources, and in March the pupils wrote letters to the four children featured in the pack. The school kindly sent some of the letters to us and I was lucky enough to read them.

Order your free copy of the El Salvador Education Pack

The El Salvador pack, which can be ordered or downloaded online, includes a country map, information sheets, photo cards and links to brilliant online films, which bring the stories and themes from the pack to life. Continue reading “Learning about climate in class”

Lenten works of mercy: Love and mercy in action

Our final Friday blog on Lenten works of mercy is from schools volunteer Penny Morse.

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Guti (far left) and her friends collecting safe clean water from a local pump in Uganda.

During Lent I have been visiting  primary schools in the Clifton diocese, meeting children and sharing stories from Uganda in assemblies and workshops. In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis e invites us to be living signs of Jesus’ love. This Lent I’ve really seen these living signs of love and mercy lived out through children’s actions.

Support CAFOD’s Lent water appeal

Here’s a flavour of what I’ve observed these past few weeks.

Continue reading “Lenten works of mercy: Love and mercy in action”

Lenten works of mercy: Heal the sick

Our series of Friday blogs focus on examples of living out works of mercy during Lent. In this blog, Susan Kambalu, who accompanied four Step into the Gap volunteers to visit CAFOD partners in Zimbabwe last month, talks about hope for the future in the HIV and AIDS projects she visited. 

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Susan with Sister Plaxedes

One of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11: ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you hope and a future.”’ When I’ve faced challenges in my own life, this verse has given me hope and encouraged me to keep going. But there has been one area of life where it has been hard to find hope at times. Members of my extended family have lived with the impact of HIV and AIDS, and the story I have seen over the past 15 years or so has not been a positive one. So it was with some trepidation that I prepared to visit Zimbabwe, to see first-hand the work of CAFOD partners Mavambo, Mashambanzou and St Albert’s Mission Hospital in supporting people living with HIV.

 

Find out more about HIV and AIDS as a development issue

Putting children first

These three partners, situated in very different contexts, work together on the programme, Putting Children First. This is a complex programme, covering areas such as child protection, birth certificates, income generating projects, school fees, and health care. The staff members I met were all passionate about their work, and were full of compassion and tenderness.

Continue reading “Lenten works of mercy: Heal the sick”

International Day of Literacy: Spend a day with Musa

A day with Musa
CAFOD’s big book for children

To celebrate International Day of Literacy, children’s author and primary school teacher Russ Brown explains how CAFOD’s big book for children can excite the imagination and help children’s understanding of the wider world.

 “A big book to promote big talk”  Russ Brown

 Today is International Day of Literacy, a day to celebrate the importance of literacy around the world.

CAFOD’s big book, A day with Musa, takes us on a journey through an ordinary day for an ordinary child in Bangladesh. It raises the simple question of how are we different, while cleverly showing children how fundamentally we are all the same, regardless of skin, language or belief.

Buy A day with Musa

Continue reading “International Day of Literacy: Spend a day with Musa”

Lenten works of mercy: Give drink to the thirsty

Today is Lent Fast Day, a day to think about how we can help provide water for all. Giving water to the thirsty is a very practical and valued act of mercy, as CAFOD gap year volunteer Bea Findley explains.  Capture

In England and Wales, it’s hard to believe there is a shortage of water in the world.

The toilet will always flush and the tap will always work. We are told to save water, yet look out the window and see rain pour down. Whilst it may be difficult to understand coming from a British climate that water is precious, today on Lent Fast Day, I’m remembering why it’s so important to stand in solidarity with people around the world who are in need of water.

One of the corporal works of mercy is to ‘give drink to the thirsty’, and Pope Francis calls us to do just that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Last month I visited CAFOD partner CEAS in Peru, and saw just how precious water is in one particular community.

Continue reading “Lenten works of mercy: Give drink to the thirsty”

Lent 2016: Walking for water

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Leila

Leila Bousbaa was part of the the Step into the Gap programme in 2014/15 and travelled to Zimbabwe to meet CAFOD partners as part of the programme. This Lent Leila is remembering the water projects she visited.

I’ve been thinking a lot about water these past few days since hearing about CAFOD’s Lent water campaign. This time last year I witnessed first-hand the struggles that come with lack of water.

As part of the Step into the Gap programme I visited CAFOD partner projects in Zimbabwe. One visit that impacted me greatly was a water project in Lubu. Here I met a community at the top of a rocky crevasse and together we ventured down the slippery slopes. Going down was hard enough, little did I know about what hiking back up would entail. Before the water project was implemented, the women in the community would have to make this journey carrying 20 litres of water on their head, often with another five litres of water in each hand, and sometimes barefoot with a baby on their back. And all of this had to be done three times a day!

Continue reading “Lent 2016: Walking for water”

World Gifts: why I’m asking for alternative presents this Christmas

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Bernadette in Nicaragua with CAFOD

Bernadette Goddard took part in the Step into the Gap programme last year. In this blog she describes why the work of partners in Nicaragua inspired her to ask for World Gifts as Christmas presents this year.

As Christmas approaches every year I am asked the question what would I like. It’s a double question for me as my birthday is just five days before Christmas, on 20 December. Each year I receive many gifts, often ones which, if I’m honest, I don’t need or use. In previous years I’ve asked for things which would be useful. Last year I was about to embark on a life changing trip with CAFOD to Nicaragua and people helped with my kit list, buying me useful items to take with me such as torches and plug adapters! This Christmas I have decided to appeal to family and friends on social media to buy World Gifts.

Continue reading “World Gifts: why I’m asking for alternative presents this Christmas”

Step into the Gap: a gap year with a difference

Applications for the CAFOD Gap Year, Step into the Gap, are now open. Julia Corcoran took part in the programme in 2013 /14, and in this blog describes her experience.

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Julia (second row, second from right) with fellow Step into the Gap volunteers in 2013

Two years ago I wrote a reflection on why I was really excited to be travelling to Sierra Leone. In those two years my life has taken a completely different turn and that’s mainly down to my experiences on Step into the Gap.Find out more about Step into the Gap

During my time on the programme my placement was at YMT, (the Youth service for Hexham and Newcastle) running retreats in the Emmaus Youth Village where groups of young people come to take time out, reflect on their lives, realise the impact they have on the world and hopefully the impact God has in their lives. During my time there I had a variety of opportunities to work with young people from leading Morning Prayer, helping to run youth festivals and running workshops, as well as going into schools for assemblies and speaking during Mass in the local parishes and at the Cathedral.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap: a gap year with a difference”

Nepal Earthquake: Teacher Top Trumps fundraiser

As we mark six months since the devastating earthquake hit Nepal, Stephen, a student at St Columba’s College, describes his unique fundraising idea to raise money to support people affected in Nepal.

The earthquake in Nepal was truly devastating, and when I heard of the suffering that these people were going through in the aftermath I was moved by the resilience that they showed.

Stephen a young CAFOD supporter
Stephen a young CAFOD supporter

I knew that CAFOD, our College’s charity, would be equally moved and their amazing volunteers wouldn’t hesitate to help. I wanted to do all that I could to support them, so I got to work brainstorming ideas. I knew it’d have to be something more ambitious than a bake sale or a bucket brigade, something that wouldn’t be forgotten the next day, something that would get the whole school involved.

Read about CAFOD’s work in Nepal, six months on.

The easiest way to get word around a whole school is through the staff, and I needed something that people would give money for. The students and staff of St Columba’s are often very philanthropic, so many of them had sent off donations privately. I needed a product that I could sell.

Teacher Top Trumps. It wasn’t new, it wasn’t original but I knew it’d work. I wasted no time, every second that I wasn’t revising or sleeping I was focusing on the Top Trumps. It was by far the biggest solo project I had ever worked on. Continue reading “Nepal Earthquake: Teacher Top Trumps fundraiser”