You are invited to imagine Dilda’s journey who fled Myanmar. Hear Pope Francis’ call to Share the Journey with our brothers and sisters, with arms wide open.
I invite you to close your eyes for a moment. You are at home. You can see thick smoke rising from the house across the street. People are shouting. Your neighbour’s house is on fire. You escape with your family, leaving everything behind.
You start a long journey to find a new home. You don’t know how long you will be walking, when you will next eat or where you will rest. Alone and afraid… you need someone to talk to, a sister or brother to reach out and share the journey with you…
This was just like Dilda’s journey. She fled Myanmar to escape violence in her village. She says, “We didn’t bring a thing. We just grabbed the children and ran.”
Dilda left behind her home, her possessions – everything – for a temporary shelter on the side of the road. Her children are scarred by what they have seen.
We cannot cross by on the other side while our neighbours are struggling. We can share the journey, we can share our hope.
Cristina grew up a stone’s throw from the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. She always knew she wanted to walk the trail one day. Here she shares how walking the Camino helped her find her inner strength.
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes. The roads stretch across Europe and come together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish). Santiago de Compostela is in Galicia, north-west Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth.
About 250,000 people walk all or part of the centuries-old Camino de Santiago trail across the Spanish countryside every year in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The motivations vary. Some undertake it as a religious pilgrimage. There are hikers who walk the route for travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land.
We asked three Catholics to share their views on faith, politics and campaigning. Here’s what they said:
Write to your Member of Parliament (MP)
Sr Bridgetta Rooney CSJP is a CAFOD campaigner who takes action through our MP Correspondent scheme
“Catholic Social Teaching has always urged Christians to become involved in politics, reminding us that it is our duty to
speak out for the poor, the marginalised and those with special needs, who are not always heard by those in power. Being involved in CAFOD’s work as an MP Correspondent keeps me alert to current issues that I can write to my MP about and pray for.
No matter where I have lived I have always been able to contact my MP about issues I feel strongly about; whether it’s meeting them in the street, at church or in the local supermarket, or by writing to them. Our MP for Charnwood – Edward Argar – has been very eager to meet with myself and others to talk about issues, and in our correspondence has always provided a personal message letting me know he has read my email. He gives reasons for his stance, which is sometimes different from my own.
As Christians it’s our duty to engage in politics and to actively voice our opinions and stand up for what is right. If we do not speak up and if we don’t vote, then we can’t complain when we get a government we never wanted.”
Communities in the Pacific islands are on the front lines of climate change. Many are being forced to adapt to ever-changing and dangerous weather conditions or flee their lands. Despite this, the Pacific Islands are leading the call for global Climate Action. Auimatagi Joseph Moeono-Kolio is a Pacific Climate Warrior and is also a Consultant for Caritas Oceania. Here, he offers his reflections on the current Climate Crisis to Daniel Hale, CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns.
Daniel Hale: Talofa Auimatagi, thanks for making time to do this. First up, tell me something of the context of Oceania.
Auimatagi Joseph Moeono-Kolio: Talofa, Dan. Thanks for invitation. Well, where to start…the Pacific has been described in many ways by many people. For me, Oceania is a vast, “ocean continent”, with many different cultures and peoples spread over an area of more than 3 million square miles. We are connected by our ocean and shared history of resilience.
We have thousands of small islands, each with their own unique cultures. There’s Hawaii in the north, Rapanui to the West and Aotearoa in the deep south. In Oceania there is Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia and the many islands communities within and then Australia to the West.
Together, there are about 40 million people. We are very much connected to one another, to our Ocean and to our many rich cultures and languages.
Prayer is powerful and it underpins all that we do at CAFOD. Prayer can be a great way to inspire you to campaign too. We can show solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world in prayer, remembering that we are united in one world and one body of Christ. Susy, who works in our theology team shares with us her top 3 prayers for social change.
Those of us who work in overseas development agencies and hear stories regularly from our colleagues about the work our partners are doing, know that we have to act now. People the world over are going hungry, they are struggling for their land rights, they are dealing with natural disasters – we can’t wait a year or two to act.
The week before last Pope Francis issued his fifth major document since beginning his papacy. It is largely a sustained meditation on the Beatitudes and how they can be lived out here and now. It is called Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad); and its subtitle is A call to holiness in today’s world. So what, according to Francis, does it mean to be holy? Susy, from our Theology team, highlights some key points.
According to Francis, if you are by nature timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, prone to put on a dreary face or swoon in a mystic rapture then you are heading in the wrong direction! Here are four ways of being holy that Francis advocates. I think they will be particularly pertinent to you as a CAFOD supporter:
1. Live out your faith in a practical way
Pope Francis always stresses that we must live out our faith in a practical way (#109). This means, that in our lives and in our work, we are urged to labour “with integrity and skill in the service” of our brothers and sisters (#14).
Zoe Corden from CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team has been in Cox’s Bazar supporting the emergency response. She shares the personal stories of Rohingya refugees forced to flee Myanmar, and now facing the upcoming monsoon season.
I met Solima when she was only 15 days old, and had known nothing but trauma in her short life. Wounded and hungry, she was held in her mother’s arms among hundreds of people sitting on the ground at the entry point to Bangladesh, just waiting in eerie silence.
Solima’s mother, Khodesha, gave birth to her in Myanmar. “Our house was burned,” said her father, Selim. “They took our land and cattle. We hid ourselves in the jungle. We have nothing left.” Eleven of their neighbours were killed, and every house destroyed, when their village in Myanmar’s Rakhine province was attacked.
Her parents waited until Solima was a week old before embarking with her and their three other children on the long, dangerous and exhausting journey to safety in Bangladesh. They were just the latest of 680,000 Rohingya refugees who have had to flee Myanmar since 25 August 2017, arriving with virtually nothing.
Sam has just joined the campaigns team at CAFOD. Read about her journey into campaigning.
My name is Sam and I’m the new Campaigns Engagement Manager at CAFOD. Campaigning has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I put this down to three main reasons: One – I’ve grown up in strongly Catholic campaigning environments. Two – I’m aware that campaigning is a right not everyone in this world has freely. Three – I am committed to addressing this.
Actually, there’s a fourth reason.
There aren’t many campaigners I’ve encountered who look like me. As a British born, working class, black female with Ghanaian parentage, I’m not sure I fit the mould of ‘traditional campaigners’ in the UK.
Is that a problem? Yes, because it doesn’t reflect what really happens in our churches. It doesn’t really reflect the face of the church today. It neglects a large proportion of active Catholics with voices and with power.
Sister Clara is a nun from Zambia. She shares with us how climate change is becoming the main cause of poverty and how renewable energy and your support can make a difference.
Zambia has in recent years experienced extreme shifts in weather patterns. These shifts are resulting in profoundly negative impacts on the economy.
The poorest people living in rural areas, like Mbala in Northern Zambia, are most affected because almost everyone is dependent on farming as their main source of living. In addition, most people do not have access to electricity either because it is too expensive or because the country cannot afford a national grid. So the people of Mbala, and other such villages, are often left without this, the most basic of necessities.
Therefore, as a religious congregation working in Mbala, we have been helping the poorest people. We have been supporting them both materially and financially through the Households in Distress Project (H.I.D).
Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Lent Appeal. Your gifts will change lives around the world. And if you donated between 13 February and 12 May, the UK Government will double your donation, giving twice the number of children the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong. Match funding for the appeal has now ended but you can still donate
Runa Begum is a volunteer in CAFOD’s digital team. She tells us why she was so impressed by the opportunity to have your donation doubled this lent, and by CAFOD supporters who continue to donate generously.
For the last few years I have been thinking more about donating with maximum impact – giving so my money goes further to needy causes. I often research the projects charities fund to see how far my pound can go. I think a lot of other people are feeling similar – we want our charitable donations to go as far as possible and to do as much good as possible.
Money raised for CAFOD’s Family Fast Day appeal this Lent will definitely do as much good as possible. Donations will be match funded by the UK Government which means your donation will be doubled, at no extra cost to you. More importantly, it means your gift will have double the impact in communities in Zimbabwe, Eritrea and around the world.