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”

Harvest Fast Day: Behind the scenes of the Brighten Up film

Kathleen O’Brien is our secondary resources coordinator, leading on the material for young people this Harvest Fast Day.

Watch our Brighten Up Harvest film, and then read Kathleen’s blog about the making of it:

Bright peace building projects in El Salvador

If you visit the education webpages this Harvest you will be greeted by Isabel and Diego, two young people who explain what life is like in a gang-dominated area of El Salvador, and talk about how CAFOD partners are helping their community to create safe, bright spaces where children and young people can play, learn and meet with their friends.

Watch our film about Isabel

Watch our film about Diego

We really wanted to convey the brightness of this project in El Salvador, the brightness of the community, and the brightness of a hopeful future. So this Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world. To do this, we set about making a short, bright, fun clip to introduce the fundraising theme.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Behind the scenes of the Brighten Up film”

CAFOD young climate bloggers: Emer researches link between health and the climate

Emer (right) promoting the One Climate, One World campaign
Emer (right) promoting the One Climate, One World campaign

Emer, one of our fantastic young climate bloggers from St Erconwald’s parish, has discovered an interesting effect climate change could have on our health. 

Most people know the general facts about climate change (that the ice caps are melting due to the warming temperatures) but it turns out that climate change is also acting in ways that aren’t quite so noticeable. This research I found out really surprised me about how climate change is affecting our everyday lives in ways in which we wouldn’t expect.

Hay fever is something that so many people suffer from, and although it is not always serious, it often leads to the unwanted red nose and watery eye look. And studies are now suggesting that climate change could be the cause in an increase in sufferers. This is because with the high carbon dioxide levels and hotter temperatures plants are growing faster, blooming sooner in spring and producing more and more pollen. Which in turn leads to worse hay fever symptoms and a longer hayfever season!

Call on David Cameron to act on climate change and sign CAFOD’s climate change petition

Although hay fever is an uncomfortable experience for lots of us in the UK, it is nothing compared to the huge impact on the health of those already living in poverty.  The rise in sea levels leading to flooding, triggered by climate change, is leading to water that is used for washing and drinking becoming contaminated leading to more cases of fatal diseases’ such as typhoid fever.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the raise in temperatures will lead to more cases of malaria.  This is a tropical disease which is spread by mosquitos, and because other countries climates are becoming more suitable to the conditions the disease thrives in, more people globally will be at risk of contracting malaria.

Find out more about CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign using our resources for young people.

Join Pope Francis’ environment call to action


Harvest Fast Day: Getting ready to Brighten Up!

HFD15-schools-identifier_one_layerKatharine O’Brien is a parish youth worker at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Wanstead. This Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world, and in this blog Katharine explains how she will introduce the theme and explore the material with the children and young people she works with.

Harvest Fast Day is approaching. On Friday 2 October, schools and communities around the country will be raising money to support communities affected by violence, like Isabel’s. I watched Isabel’s film and saw the reality of life in San Salvador, El Salvador. The video offers insight into her community, into the heart of the youth project seeking to brighten up the prospects of young people, to tackle the reality of gang culture and the danger they face simply by stepping out of doors. Isabel tells us how sad it is to see the children she grew up with turning to guns and violence.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Getting ready to Brighten Up!”

Harvest Fast Day: Romero continues to inspire young people this Harvest

Kathleen (back row, far left) in El Salvador.
Kathleen (back row, far left) in El Salvador.

Kathleen O’Brien is in our schools team and coordinates resources for secondary schools.

Last February, I was privileged to be in El Salvador when the announcement came that Pope Francis had declared San Salvador’s one-time Archbishop, Oscar Romero to be a martyr, meaning that a date could be set for his beatification. There was great joy expressed by everyone we met that day. One of the Jesuits at the university said to us, “The whole of Latin America has been waiting for this event for thirty-five years!”

Watch our Romero film

Schools in England and Wales are familiar with the name ‘Oscar Romero’. Sometimes when our team visits a school we hear that ‘Romero House’ is the name chosen for one of the school house teams. That resonates with us, as we named our London office building ‘Romero House’ after our former CAFOD partner. Many pupils have learned about Romero’s life in RE lessons during Year 6 of primary school or in the first two or three years of secondary school.

That’s why, in this special year when Romero officially became ‘Blessed Oscar Romero’, we wanted to use El Salvador as the focus for our Harvest materials for schools. The materials look at the stories of Diego (8) and Isabel (15) from San Salvador.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Romero continues to inspire young people this Harvest”

Harvest Fast Day: Building a brighter future in El Salvador

Gemma in El Salvador.
Gemma in El Salvador.

Gemma Salter is on our schools team and produces resources for primary schools.

When I read the papers or the news online, I often find myself looking out for stories from places I’ve visited, or countries that CAFOD partners work in. This happened to me recently, when I came across an article from El Salvador. This one was a striking one – it spoke of the high rates of murder and gang conflict in the country, describing it as the ‘homicide capital of the world’.

Whilst I know gangs and violence are a significant challenge in the country, and I saw this for myself when I visited El Salvador, the article still shocked me. It made me think back to my own trip to El Salvador, where I met eight-year-old Diego and spent time getting to know him and his family.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Building a brighter future in El Salvador”

Great Generation: My year with CAFOD

Tobi is a CAFOD young leader from the class of 2014-15.  She has spent the past year working alongside 130 young people from six dioceses, developing leadership skills and learning about justice issues with CAFOD. In this blog she reflects on her year.

Tobi training with other CAFOD young leaders
Tobi training with other CAFOD young leaders

Today I joined the CAFOD young leaders of 2014-15 for a day of reflection and celebration at Romero House in London. I can’t believe it has been a year since I joined CAFOD last year through the Youth Leadership Programme! I joined after hearing about it from our charity group meetings. CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and across the world CAFOD do their best to bring hope and help to poor communities mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, aiming to end poverty and injustice.

I chose to take part in the program as it not only aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of international development, global poverty and social justice, but it supports you to become a leader. It taught us how to gain and enhance important life skills such as organisational, communication and leadership skills, which can be transferred into everyday life.

Continue reading “Great Generation: My year with CAFOD”

Climate campaign: ‘Every little effort counts’

Sarah Burrows works in CAFOD’s Youth Team, and recently joined a group of eight youth leaders from retreat and outreach teams across the UK for a two day course run by CAFOD and Lee House experiential learning centre in the Diocese of Salford. The aim of the weekend was to experience life from the perspective of a community affected by climate change in Brazil. In this blog Sarah pulls together some group reflections of the experience, and the importance of speaking out against the injustices faced by many people living in poverty.

IMG_3109‘Willingness to rough it was the phrase that called out to me during the lead up to a two-day refugee simulation to Lee House, near Preston. A leap into the unknown – a new adventure! Armed with a sleeping bag, lots of warm clothes (as instructed!) and a bundle of mixed emotions, I arrived at Preston train station to be greeted by Sarah from CAFOD’s Youth Team, Joe from Lee House and a group of other youth ministry volunteers from all corners of the country.” (Annie, Bosco Volunteer Action)

Continue reading “Climate campaign: ‘Every little effort counts’”

Great generation: St Mary’s school at the Speak Up climate lobby

Students from St Mary’s School, Newcastle, travelled to London on the day of the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby to meet their MPs and voice their concerns about climate change. In this blog they reflect on the day.

Students from St Mary’s with Ed Miliband (MP for Doncaster)

Climate change is a huge issue which has been dramatically affecting our world that we live in, by destroying the beauty of nature, diminishing wild life and even making the poor suffer more.

These are just the first consequences of this problem, as climate change is an issue that can affect us all directly and also our future generations. It is a problem that will completely wipe out all life, in years to come.

St Mary's
The St Mary’s team with Catherine McKinnell (MP for Newcastle North)

This is why CAFOD is taking action. On the 17 of June, CAFOD invited students from various parts of the UK to represent their area and voice their views on climate change to their MPs. We were among the many hundreds and thousands of young people who were keen and enthusiastic to express our opinions and views to our MPs about climate change. We travelled to London to participate in this significant campaign.

Watch the film of the lobby

After our arrival, we were kindly welcomed to the CAFOD community in London, where we were able to understand more about CAFOD and its work. Additionally, CAFOD organised many activities, where we were all able to talk to other young people from different parts of the UK to know more about their views on this matter.

Continue reading “Great generation: St Mary’s school at the Speak Up climate lobby”

Climate campaign: Get Close-up on Climate

Victoria Ahmed works in CAFOD’s Education team. In this blog she reflects on the opportunities this month for young people to have their voices heard on climate issues through the Close-up on Climate film project.

CAFOD young supporters at the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby

‘Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.’ Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (13)

What a powerful quote. When I came across it this week I couldn’t help but think about the many young people who attended the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby last week, spilling out of trains and buses in London from all corners of England and Wales to speak to their MPs about why climate change is impacting the world’s poorest people.

Were you at the lobby? Watch our film of the day

My memories of the lobby are a whirlwind of bunting and queuing, face paints and wall paints. In what was the biggest ever climate lobby of Parliament, almost half of all MPs were asked to tackle climate change, and I had my mobile phone in my hand the entire time. Whether it was to capture images of the colourful bunting with messages flapping in the wind on Lambeth bridge, tweeting news of the day, or recording short clips of young people preparing their questions, I have a phone full of reasons why young people care about climate change, of young people demanding change, as Pope Francis puts it.

Continue reading “Climate campaign: Get Close-up on Climate”