Celebrating International Volunteers Day with volunteer stories from Nigeria

Oge Chukwudozie is a Humanitarian Capacity Strengthening Officer for CAFOD in Nigeria. Oge explains how community volunteers play such a vital role in CAFOD’s work to support remote communities.

As the most populous country on the continent, Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”. It is also large geographically, and transport links are poor in the more rural areas. It takes six hours for CAFOD staff to travel by road from Abuja to Omalla in Kogi state, and this is one of the closest areas where we work.

Community volunteers, supported by CAFOD and its partners, play an important role in supporting remote communities across Nigeria. This International Volunteers Day, on December 5th, I want to celebrate the important role that volunteers play in CAFOD’s work across the world, by sharing the stories of some of the wonderful volunteers in Nigeria.

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Hands On Doutchi: Thanks to you they have hope

Thanks to incredible regular support from CAFOD supporters, life in Doutchi has changed for the better.

Despite the challenges of living on the edge of the Sahara, the Doutchi community have hope.

Hope in the knowledge that they can prepare for the future with confidence.

Knowing that the tools and skills they have gained over the past 3 years, will mean that they can provide for their family now, and well in to the future.

Niger is the world’s poorest country and is also one of the hottest. Getting enough food to eat is the biggest challenge for people living here.

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Step into the Gap: Reflecting on my time in Freetown

CAFOD volunteer, Chris Burkette, who is currently taking part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme and is on placement at Walsingham House, reflects on his time meeting communities in Sierra Leone.

I know for so many people it can be rare to explore outside of Europe, but for many people here in Sierra Leone, it is even rarer that they journey beyond their communities.

Learn more about Step into the Gap

This week has been awe-inspiring, faith-driven and hope-filled. Each day I walked with and alongside members of the towns that made each community so unique.

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Step into the Gap: An inspiring week in Kambia

CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Siobhan Doyle, who is currently completing her placement at Newman University, shares her experience of meeting CAFOD’s partners in Sierra Leone.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

We have spent a week in Kambia visiting CAFOD’s partner – The Kambia District Development and Rehabilitation Organisation, KADDRO for short. The staff have been so welcoming and so willing to answer all of our questions.

We visited three rural communities in Kambia where KADDRO works on access to water, sanitation and health, savings and loans groups, ways to make a living projects and women’s breastfeeding and pregnancy groups.

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Mother’s Day: why all mums deserve breastfeeding help

When Laura Storr from CAFOD’s communications team heard how new mum Unity from Zimbabwe was struggling to breastfeed – she knew only too well how difficult it could be. As we look forward to Mother’s Day, she shares her own breastfeeding story and explains how you can help more mums get the specialist support they need by donating this Lent.

It’s 10pm and I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter Rosa on and off for the last five hours. Rosa was born two weeks ago, and every time she tries to feed, which is about 10-12 times a day, my body tenses with pain. At times, its so painful, I cry out. And she rarely seems satisfied. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. And I’m worried that she isn’t putting on weight.

Later that night, I remember that I was given a bunch of leaflets, including information about a breastfeeding support group a short walk from my home in north London. Later that evening, I dig them out, and make an appointment for the next available session.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal so new mums living in poverty can be trained how to breastfeed

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Step into the Gap: A warm welcome

CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Hannah Collinson shares her experiences of being welcomed by communities in Sierra Leone.

We have just ended an unbelievable week with KADDRO (Kambia District Development and Rehabilitation Organisation) in Kambia, in the North West of Sierra Leone.

Learn how you can get involved with Step into the Gap 

As I think back to all the incredible experiences that we have had I am struggling to find words that can do justice to the people we have met throughout this time.

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Step into the Gap: Arriving in Sierra Leone

CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Siobhan Doyle shares her experiences of arriving in West Africa, meeting CAFOD’s partners and seeing the projects that fundraising in England and Wales has helped to fund.

We have now been in Sierra Leone for three days and have been eating lots of plantain, chicken, and rice! The food is amazing, and I have been eating plantain all day.

Learn more about Step into the Gap

We arrived in Freetown on Sunday night. We got a boat taxi from the airport to Freetown and Janet, who is the program officer, and Alusine, the driver, met us to take us to the hotel. We then had dinner and went straight to bed after the long journey.

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Why should we protect human rights?

Our belief in the inherent dignity of every person calls us to protect the rights of everyone in our human family. We ask people from some of the organisations we work with why protecting rights is essential if everyone is to reach their God-given potential.

Speak out about human rights – become a campaigner with CAFOD

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Humanitarian aid is more than food. It is a sign of hope.

In March 2017, a drought in east Africa, combined with terrible violence between the government and rebels, had created a famine in South Sudan. One of CAFOD’s staff based in the country, Emergency Programme Manager Michael O’Riordan, visited people in March to give out food. At that time he reflected on the emotion and power of the experience.

A haunting refrain

When I was leaving Yirol in central South Sudan following a food distribution, an elderly gentleman in his late 60s kept asking why he wasn’t on the list to receive food. He couldn’t work and therefore couldn’t earn a living. Clearly disabled and using a walking stick, he kept pleading “why am I not deserving?”.

This haunting refrain has echoed in my ears ever since.  It is not that he is not deserving; we just don’t have enough for everyone.

You can help food to people who are going hungry – donate to CAFOD’s emergency work

Having returned to this community after just a few months since the last food distribution, we found a bad situation far worse than we could have imagined. Although we are responding as best we can, it is beyond our ability to meet all needs.

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