Step into the Gap: Working together to weave change in Cambodian communities

James Ronan, who is currently taking part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap, talks about the village communities he spent time with in Cambodia where local organisations are empowering communities to change their lives for the better.

Step into the Gap volunteers walking through now flourishing fields
Step into the Gap volunteers walking through now flourishing fields

Cambodia’s long history, most recently the civil war and the Khmer Rouge regime, has “left many communities broken”, said Singha, one of the founding members of CAFOD partners, Village Support Group (VSG).

Find out more about Step into the Gap

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Step into the Gap: Small steps to make a big difference

The Step into the Gap volunteers have been meeting many communities in Cambodia, whose lives have been impacted by the support of CAFOD’s partners. Rod Howlett reflects on how a little bit of funding and support can transform a whole community.

Chhoy and Kov stand proudly in their new vegetable garden.
Chhoy and Kov stand proudly in their new vegetable garden.

 It is the fourth full day in Cambodia and our first full day visiting a community that CAFOD supports. We’ve had the time for briefing, adjusting to Cambodian culture and getting rid of jet lag as best we can.

Today we will be able to have our first proper conversations with the villagers, finding out how they have been helped by CAFOD’s funding. This first community is the Ou Breus in Rukhakiri District, Battambang Province.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

Here, CAFOD has provided the money for a local organisation, Village Support Group (VSG), to set up a three-year project working with the community to help them find the means to diminish the level of poverty in the village.

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Philippines Typhoon: Three years on

Sophie Allin is CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager for the Philippines. Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines three years ago, she has seen communities rebuild their lives with the help of CAFOD’s local partners. Here she tells us what has been achieved with the generous donations of our supporters.

One of the new schools re-built after Typhoon Haiyan by CAFOD’s partner in Bantayan
One of the new schools re-built after Typhoon Haiyan by CAFOD’s partner in Bantayan

This November, we remember those who lost their lives three years ago to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. As communities brace themselves for new typhoons, we continue to support people to rebuild their lives and hopes.

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Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013. More than 6,000 people died and five million families lost their homes. On a recent visit, I met with some of the communities CAFOD has been working with over the last three years, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

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World Refugee Day: Send a message of hope

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For World Refugee Day, CAFOD communications officer, Mark Chamberlain reflects on attitudes towards refugees

In the past fortnight a time machine took me back to the late 1980s. I was sitting watching my favourite tea-time programme: a re-run, in glorious Technicolor, of a McCarthy-era, American sci-fi series.

The meek, unsuspecting earthlings were being duped again, by the cold, cunning aliens. More invaders had landed in their town and were taking over. But the only people that could see this were a small boy who kept shouting for people to listen…and me.

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Refugee crisis: A message from Lebanon

Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He spent time with refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in December 2015. On International Families Day, he writes about meeting some of the families there.

Razir is a 40-year-old mother of five. It was just after 11 in the morning when I visited her tent.

She offered for me to sit down on the only blanket the family had. I declined, blew into my hands to keep them warm and chose the bare floor instead. It was like sitting on ice.

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Nepal earthquakes: rebuilding lives and homes one year on

Janet Crossley is CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager for Nepal. One year on from the devastating earthquakes which struck Nepal in April and May 2015 watch Janet’s short video from Nepal and read how the generosity of supporters has helped our partners reach the people who were most affected.

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When I arrived in the village of Bungkot in Gorkha district, piles of rubble still filled spaces where houses once stood. Grass and crops had already started to grow out of the heaps of stone and dust that families once called home.

Please pray for the people of Nepal

I first visited Gorkha district in western Nepal three months after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday 25 April. It devastated the lives of more than 5 million people, killing over 8,700, and reducing more than half a million homes to rubble. A second earthquake caused further destruction when it hit three weeks later on 12 May.

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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

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16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.”

Cassandra Mok, CAFOD’s Country Rep for Cambodia & Myanmar, shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue.

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Men in Cambodia wearing white ribbons, a symbol of solidarity against gender-based violence.

A friend of mine once confided that her high school boyfriend used to hit her and drag her around by the hair. It surprised me, as I always saw her as this clever, articulate and powerful woman. I asked her why she put up with it for so many years. After explaining that both her parents used to beat her in anger, she simply stated: “Everyone who loved me hit me. So I believed that if someone loved you, they hit you.”

Learn more about CAFOD’s work on gender

Gender-based violence affects both men and women, boys and girls. It affects the family as well as the society we share. Violence is not solely about personal safety, it’s about how we communicate our emotions and how we resolve conflict. Children learn how they should treat others and how they deserve to be treated from those around them. Growing up in a violent situation makes it a norm. These children grow into adults with conceptions on how to interact with each other and with expectations that it’s normal to hit or to be hit.

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Philippines Typhoon: two years on

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A street in Tacloban after it was hit by Typhoon Haiyan

CAFOD Director Chris Bain visited the Philippines shortly after it was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. Two years on, he reflects on what has been achieved.

Add your name to Pope Francis’s call to action on climate change

When I flew into the Philippines a few weeks after Typhoon Haiyan, I was shocked by the extent of the damage. The destruction in Tacloban was the worst I’ve ever seen – worse even than after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. 170 mph winds and 25-foot waves had destroyed concrete buildings, overturned cars, and drowned thousands of people.

Catholics in England and Wales responded with great compassion to the typhoon, donating an amazing £5.4 million to CAFOD’s appeal. In the first weeks after the disaster, we worked with our Caritas partners to reach thousands of people, providing emergency support including clean water, food, shelter kits, hygiene facilities, and everyday household goods.

Over the longer term, the needs have changed. We have been working to provide more lasting assistance such as shelter and livelihoods and have been looking at how to reduce risks in case of another disaster.

Two years on, it is extremely encouraging to see that the work of the Church has helped so many thousands of people move into stronger homes, and find new ways of making a living. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many local aid workers, diocesan staff and volunteers in the Philippines whose tireless work has helped so many people to rebuild their lives.

As Pope Francis has pointed out, however, countries like the Philippines remain at great risk because of climate change. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis reminded us that climate change is real, urgent and that it must be tackled. He also described the climate as “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”. Continue reading “Philippines Typhoon: two years on”

Philippines typhoon: preparing for the future

Philippines - rebuilding homes
CAFOD’s partners have rebuilt hundreds of homes since Typhoon Haiyan

Nick Harrop, World News Officer for CAFOD, writes:

Three weeks ago, Typhoon Koppu battered the Philippines. After making landfall near the town of Casiguran, the typhoon travelled slowly across Luzon island, ripping roofs off poorly constructed homes, cutting off power supplies, and flooding huge swathes of farmland. In some areas the storm dumped 130 cm of rain over just two days – more than twice as much rainfall as London experiences in an entire year.

Join Catholics worldwide in calling for urgent action on climate change

During the typhoon, Luzon island was also hit by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. In Britain, the quake would have dominated the front pages for weeks; we haven’t experienced a tremor that powerful since the year 1590. In the Philippines, it went virtually unreported.

To say that the Philippines is hit by a lot of disasters is an understatement. Koppu wasn’t the first typhoon to strike this year – it was the twelfth – and it wasn’t even the most powerful. There have also been more than a dozen deadly earthquakes in the country since the beginning of the 21st century, as well as floods, droughts and volcanic eruptions.

But no recent disaster has been more devastating than Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013. The so-called ‘super-typhoon’ was one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall, tearing apart the lives of 14 million people and leaving five million homeless.

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