Pope Francis’s new letter to us all

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).

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The Rohingya crisis: Personal stories from Cox’s Bazar

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.

Read more about the Share the Journey campaign

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What does a campaigner look like?

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.

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Renewable energy changes lives in Zambia

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).

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Get the most out of your Lent donation

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.

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Lent 2018: When I found out about what match funding means.

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.

Therese Wynn-Davies recently joined the Digital Fundraising team here at CAFOD. She tells us how she was amazed by the opportunity this Lent as all donations made to CAFOD will be doubled by the UK Government, and how she’s getting involved with a colourful way of fundraising with her ever-co-operative colleague, Jack.

I started here at CAFOD right at the beginning of Lent, which was a great time to start. The office has been brilliantly busy with all sorts of things from dealing with donations, to Family Fast Day. It was around Pancake Day when I found out about match funding. I was really amazed, both with the pancakes and what match funding means for the people that CAFOD helps.

A couple more weeks into the role and my ears pricked up at the suggestion of ‘Dress a dad day’ to be held on Monday 19 March, St Joseph’s day. My colleagues were talking about children dressing up their dads. I volunteered to bring in some of my stash of fancy dress outfits. Before he knew it, my colleague Jack had been nominated as a non-dad to demonstrate some of the costumes.
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Tell Sainsbury’s their “fairly-traded” tea isn’t Fairtrade

Last December Sainsbury’s met a group of Fairtraders to talk about tea. Vin Allerton, a long-time Fairtrader in Salford, was one of CAFOD’s delegates. Here he tells us about how the meeting went, and what his next plans are.

Telling Sainsbury’s not to ditch Fairtrade

My wife and I have been Salford Diocese Fairtrade activists for over 20 years, supplying Fairtrade goods in our own parish. In the last 10 years we’ve also provided Fairtrade items to other local parishes, schools and at CAFOD events. This is why, with over 150,000 other people I signed a petition asking Sainsbury’s not to stop the Fairtrade mark on its own-brand Red Label tea.  The reaction of Mike Coupe, Sainbury’s Chief Executive, to the petition was not positive. But Sainsbury’s did later go on to agree to a meeting, possibly after seeing the size of the opposition.

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And so last December, a group of us met Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand, to discuss our concerns. Continue reading “Tell Sainsbury’s their “fairly-traded” tea isn’t Fairtrade”

A livesimply parish group transforms lives of local refugees

Carol Chilton, a Justice and Peace and livesimply group member from St John the Baptist  Cathedral in Norwich shares how their livesimply group made a real difference to local refugees.

It all started with a phone call

The members of the Justice and Peace and Livesimply group in St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich, East Anglia diocese, after receiving the 27th livesimply award. Carol, who shares her experience in this blog, is the one holding the livesimply award
The members of the Justice and Peace and Livesimply group receiving their livesimply award. Carol holds the livesimply award.

There’s a whole network of underground support for refugees and asylum seekers in Norwich. I didn’t know about any of it until I made a phone call to find out what our group could do to help.

We heard from a health visitor that families were being moved into the area, but the accommodation they were staying in was so dirty. The families had nothing to clean it with.

Discover our campaign Share the Journey to stand up for the dignity of refugees

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Our favourite walks

Throughout England and Wales, hundreds of people are getting ready to Share the Journey with refugees by planning walks in solidarity with those forced to flee. Our free guide can help you organise your own walk – by yourself or in a group, as long as you want and wherever you want! To give you some ideas here are some of our favourite walks.

Jeremy: A walk from Seahouses to Low Newton, Northumberland

For some the Northumberland coast conjures up images of horizontal rain and freezing winds. Instead, imagine long stretches of golden sands, dunes teeming with wildlife and cosy coastal villages.

Park the car at Seahouses, head down to the harbour, trying to resist the ice cream and fish and chip shops, and turn right. The beauty of this walk is that that’s just about all the directions you’ll need: keep the sea close on your left and you’ll be fine!

Once you get to Beadnell harbour- and as long as the tide is out- you can drop down to the beach. If you’re walking with children this is going to slow you down seriously, as they stop to do all the things kids do on beaches, but that’s all part of the fun!

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Small acts of kindness make a huge difference to refugees

Rosie Heaton, CAFOD’s regional communications assistant in the North West, reflects on the compassion being shown from Catholic people across England and Wales to refugees.

Get involved now

During the Year of Mercy, CAFOD supporters from parishes and schools across England and Wales responded to the refugee crisis by writing more than 30,000 Messages of Hope.  I had the honour of delivering just a few of these messages when I visited a refugee wellbeing class in Salford.

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