Christine from our fundraising team shares her joy of music and carol singing and describes how you can support our Advent appeal by singing ‘Silent Night’ or your favourite carol, recording it for CAFOD and sharing on social media!
The Philippines has one of the largest diaspora communities in the world, with around 10 million adults living or working abroad. CAFOD’s Digital Communications Manager, Michael Palacios, is one of them, and while he is unable to spend Christmas in Manila this year, a lantern in his family’s window in London means they will still feel at home this holiday season.
Richard Sloman is CAFOD’s Middle East Programme Officer. Here he reflects on his time in Lebanon where almost 40 per cent of the population are Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Richard visited one of Lebanon’s twelve Palestinian refugee camps – home to 450,000 people, one in ten of the country’s population.
Bourj el Barajneh in Beirut, Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest refugee camps. Established in 1948, it’s home to more than 31,000 people. These women, men and children live in just one square kilometre of land. That’s roughly 31 people for every square metre of earth.
It’s midnight. The wedding attendants have been waiting for a long time for the bridegroom. At last, he arrives. The five sensible ones are admitted to the feast, but the other five suddenly find they are unprepared. They scrabble around in a panic, and set out to find oil for their lamps.
After some time, the wedding attendants come back, knocking on the door and calling for the bridegroom to let them in. But it is too late. The doors are shut.
Like the five sensible ones who take oil with their lamps, we are called to prepare for the kingdom of heaven and to keep our gaze fixed on Christ. We must be prepared to show our love for Christ through our actions.
Mary Lucas, our representative for the Middle East, describes what life is like for one young boy living in Gaza.
Mohammed was just nine when he and his sister, Doha, were orphaned. It was a hot summer in 2014 and the people of Gaza were struggling to survive an extreme military bombardment. Apartment blocks were falling in clouds of dust throughout the territory. Some nights, entire neighbourhoods were given a few minutes’ warning to leave – fleeing their homes to find safety wherever they could.
Mohammed’s family had to leave their home as it wasn’t safe. They were evacuated to a nearby school and like so many caught up in the conflict, struggled to get the essentials. Water pipes were damaged and food was expensive and running low in shops because of the bombing.
To ensure the family could survive, Mohammed’s parents would wait until there was a ceasefire and run to collect water and food.
That day, they decided to check on the house that they had spent years investing in for their family. As they approached the house, an explosion killed them both instantly. Shortly afterwards, another bomb reduced the house to rubble. Continue reading “Christmas in Gaza”
Sue Cooper, a CAFOD supporter from Corpus Christi parish in Wokingham, reflects on what Advent means to her as a time of hope and light amongst the winter gloom and darkness.
How I dislike this time of year. The dark nights and the cold, wet weather force me inside, and living in an area of the South where it rarely snows, there’s not even that brightness to lighten my mood. The news, too, speaks of horror in Syria and tumult in Iraq as well as an uncertain future for us here. It is miserable, but amidst the gloom there is hope.
The Sunday Mass readings throughout Advent warn us to ready ourselves and our anticipation of future events is filled with light and expectation. We have not been abandoned in the darkness, there is one who is coming to us who brings peace and cares for those on the margins. And in preparation to welcome the one who comes, we must respond to the call of John the Baptist and “repent” and change our ways. As the weeks unfold the anticipation and the excitement grow: the Word is made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, is coming!
As we prepare for Christmas, Advent is a time to take stock of what has happened in the past year. As a family, we post up pictures on our website with short captions to share with our extended family and friends what we’ve been up to. It’s a time to consider those who have died during the year, our achievements and perhaps ponder the “might have beens”. Continue reading “Advent: Hope amidst the gloom”
This year, CAFOD supporter Stephen Garsed is encouraging fellow parishioners at Our Lady and St Edward’s parish in Preston, to think about living simply and loving abundantly this Christmas. Here are his top six suggestions…
The word we hear so often in the weeks before Christmas is ‘tradition’. It is particularly promoted by the glossy magazines who like to sell us the concept of ‘the perfect Christmas’.
Rachel Simkin is CAFOD’s World Gifts Co-ordinator. She was inspired to share the story of 10-year-old Florence, who set herself a fundraising quest to buy World Gifts knowing they would bring a smile to others.
When I first heard about Florence’s quest to fundraise for World Gifts, I found it inspiring to hear of her energy and was delighted that she was encouraging so many to join her quest. Then I was even more amazed when I learnt she was just 10 years old!
Florence is one of CAFOD’s youngest local volunteers and has succesfuly inspired her Rotherham community to buy World Gifts to help communities across the world.
“I thought it was an awesome idea,” said Florence. “I really wanted to help people who didn’t have what I have got. Last Christmas, I asked my friends at school to make a donation instead of sending Christmas cards to each other. I made a speech after Mass and told the parishioners I would be selling raffle tickets and the winner of the raffle would get to choose the animal’s name.
“Everyone at school and in my parish joined in and it was so successful we raised enough money to buy two goats, Kathleen and Rosie, and Maisey the piglet.”
But Florence didn’t stop at Christmas; she decided to volunteer for CAFOD and organise more events throughout this year to encourage her fellow pupils to fundraise and learn about others across the world.