Lent 2015 Myanmar: Eleven things I learned about life in the jungle

Villagers in Myanmar
Villagers in a jungle village in Myanmar

Our Fundraising Writer Mark Chamberlain visited Myanmar in 2014 to learn about the effects of storms and extreme weather. Myanmar is the focus for this year’s CAFOD Lent appeal which is being match funded by the UK government.

In June last year, I was lucky enough to spend some time with U Than Win, Martin, Kyin Nu, Zin Thu Thu and U Win Myi the fisherman in Myanmar. While staying in their communities, I kept a diary and made a list of points about surviving the jungle. Here are eleven things I learned:

1. Footwear is essential. No matter how hot it is and how liberating the sensation of the jungle floor on your bare feet is, don’t be tempted to walk around without protection. The jungle is alive with spiders, snakes and the intimidating ‘scorpion king’. Bites can be lethal because both communities were are a long way from a hospital.

2. The ‘scorpion king’ is a giant centipede. It won’t kill if it bites, but it will hurt. A lot. Make sure you move your bed away from a wall if you are near one – this is so it doesn’t creep into bed with you for a snooze.

Continue reading “Lent 2015 Myanmar: Eleven things I learned about life in the jungle”

Step into the Gap Nicaragua – “Together we can achieve more”

Kate is one of CAFOD’s gap year and is currently based with Just Youth in Salford. She has been visiting communities supported by CAFOD in Nicaragua, from where she has sent this blog:

The ASOMUPRO team
The ASOMUPRO team

This week we had the chance to work closely with ASOMUPRO one of CAFOD’s partners out here in Nicaragua, they are an Association of Women Producers working out in the most rural areas of Nicaragua to give employment and strengthen the hope to the women of Nicaragua.

Want to see the world? Take a look at Step into the Gap

The slogan of ASOMUPRO is “LAS GAVIOTAS” translated into English it means “Seagulls,” it could be seen as a very strange slogan, however there is a lot of meaning behind it.

And the meaning is that everyone working for ASOMUPRO are like geese, they work in a V formation. The idea behind this formation is that the front bird leads and when they get tired they set themselves back and someone else takes up their place. Geese all stick together and drive themselves forward. ASOMUPRO are a team, they work together, share common values and are lifted by the enthusiasm and energy of each other. This is why this is the slogan for ASOMUPRO. This was by far the overriding theme of the week. The women we met gave up their time to talk to us about the work of ASOMUPRO and how ASOMUPRO have greatly helped their lives. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – “Together we can achieve more””

“Don’t use your hairdryers!” ‒ Our young climate bloggers’ training weekend

St James young climate bloggers
St James young climate bloggers

Young climate bloggers from St James’ Catholic High School tell the story of their CAFOD training weekend ‒ the fun, the challenges and the inspiration.

“Don’t use your hairdryers …” was one of the first pieces of advice we were given on arrival at the Othona Community in Bradwell on Sea “Hairdryers use more electricity than all the ovens, lights, fridges and freezers in our community joined together. If you use a hairdryer it could overload the system.” As the Orthona Community was off the main grid, frizzy hair it was to be.  This was the first of many lessons learnt whilst experiencing sustainable living. The hard work and fun was about to begin.

Keep up with the CAFOD young climate bloggers during 2015.

Continue reading ““Don’t use your hairdryers!” ‒ Our young climate bloggers’ training weekend”

A people of hope

This blog is written by Rachel McCarthy who works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. It is the first of a series inviting you to share your joys and hopes, and to pray for people living in poverty at Lent

Rwanda- writing in a journal
Keep a hope journal this Lent

As we journey through Lent, take time to reflect on your joys, hopes, concerns and inspirations by keeping a hope journal. In a spirit of solidarity, we hold in our prayers the joys and hopes of our global family.

Follow our daily reflections with the CAFOD Lent calendar

2015 is the 50th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes. We are called to share the “joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties” of our global neighbours, especially those who are living in poverty.

Continue reading “A people of hope”

Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Bernadette: The joy of living is to serve

Bernadette is one of CAFOD‘s Step into the Gap volunteers. She’s currently working as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and is visiting CAFOD partners in Nicaragua.

Hola from Nicaragua. There is so much I want to share with you already and I think the easiest way is to give you an insight into the trip so far to give people a whole view of the experience. So here goes, when I said in my pre blog about looking forward to the opportunity to see the work that CAFOD is involved in I never realised how much I would experience so quickly.

Find out about Step into the Gap

Practising for CYMFED Flame 2
Practising for CYMFED Flame 2

On our first full day in Managua, the capital city, we headed out as a group to meet the Central America CAFOD team based here in Managua. This was an opportunity to find out about what the team here focuses on, not only in Nicaragua but throughout Central America. We spent time looking at various aspects such as the work around gender and HIV, livelihoods, human rights and weather.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Bernadette: The joy of living is to serve”

CAFOD staff are cutting it out for Lent 2015

CAFOD staff Lent 2015
Mariacristina with her CAFOD colleagues who are cutting something out or doubling something in their lives this Lent.

Maricristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who are giving something up for Lent.

It is at times like Lent, when we stop to reflect on a number of things and get closer to God, that we often realise how blessed we are. Right now I feel blessed to be working with a group of committed and passionate people. With only two weeks to go until Ash Wednesday I know lots of people will be trying to decide what to cut out in order to create a change in their own lives or in the wider world.

Take a look at our Cut it Out resources for Lent fundraising

I’ve been talking to my colleagues about their preparations for Lent and have been impressed by how dedicated they are to make a difference to the lives of those who suffer and taking care of the gifts we have been given by God. Many people are focussing on using Lent to help people living in poverty to cope with the destruction that extreme weather and climate change can bring. Lots of people at CAFOD are making Lenten promises, and we all have our own little challenging and exciting cut it out activities to try and reduce our impact on the environment. Continue reading “CAFOD staff are cutting it out for Lent 2015”

Step into the Gap – Welcome to Nicaragua!

Hola! Greetings from Kate, Steph, Bernie, Chris, Tania and Vicky in Nicaragua. The first few days of this trip have been amazing and as a group we thought we would each share a part of our experience up to now.

“Welcome to Nicaragua.” The sound of the flight attendant announcing, in her very American accent, our arrival brought up excitement in all of us. Tom, a friendly face and experienced aid worker from Canada, was there to meet us with another taxi driver, Jaime.  On the way back to our accommodation with Jaime, we passed many low level concrete buildings with corrugated iron roofs but also on the main street every 100 metres or so these 15 metres high stunningly yellow trees absolutely covered in lightbulbs stood. Tania asked Jaime what it was and apparently they are “The Tree of Life”, the work of the first lady Rosario Murillo. It seemed so out of place. When we got back to our accommodation, we were warmly welcomed and were certainly pleased to know that there was air conditioning in each of the rooms before we got some much needed sleep after the 22 hour journey.

The Nicaragua Step into the Gap team outside CAFOD office
The Nicaragua Step into the Gap team outside CAFOD office

After we had arrived and spent some time resting we woke and headed out on our first day to meet the Central America CAFOD team. We were greeted at the office by the whole team who are so friendly and welcoming. We spent time finding out more about what CAFOD’s work focuses are in Central America, in particular Nicaragua. This has given us a better understanding of the country, its history and the people. We can’t wait to spend time working alongside them and the partners they work with to really experience all that the team support partners in, whether training, networking or support.

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Nicaragua

As we embarked on our second day in Managua we couldn’t wait to find out more about the partners and communities we would be visiting whilst we are here. We started our day by meeting ASOMUPRO, the association of women’s farmers. This gave us opportunities to not only learn more about ASOMUPRO but an opportunity to connect with the people who worked in there office and what they valued about the work of ASOMUPRO. This was a truly inspiring and emotional opportunity to learn.

ASOMUPRO - Association of Women's Farmers
ASOMUPRO – Association of Women’s Farmers

We then continued our day by meeting the John XXIII Institute to learn more about the strong friendship they have with CAFOD and the work they do out in communities. The afternoon ended with our final meeting with the Sisters of the Guardian Angel in partnership with Envio. The sisters work with young people on community leadership and empowerment. They also run a canteen which gives young children the opportunity to gather and play games.  We can’t wait to meet everyone, get to know them and learn.

CAFOD gap year volunteers meeting the Sisters of the Guardian Angel
CAFOD gap year volunteers meeting the Sisters of the Guardian Angel

Today is our third day and has been absolutely incredible! After a tiring few days recovering from jetlag and meeting lots of people, today was a day where we got to experience the local environment that Managua has to offer. We began by going to the top of one of the many live volcanos which Nicaragua has. This was a first for us all and had us in awe! It was out of this world to stand at the edge of the crater and see the smoke, not something I ever thought I’d be able to say. We sampled the local delicacy of coconut juice to cool us down.

Drinking coconuts
Drinking coconuts

The afternoon was spent in paradise. We swam in a beautiful lagoon in the valley of the volcano we had just climbed. It was so refreshing after a morning of intense heat. However, what really struck me was the bumpy ride we had to get there; driving past posh luxurious hillside villas right next to whole communities living in tin roof shacks was something that hit me as quite shocking.

Another thing that really struck us after yesterday, was the importance of looking after our world. We are all very fortunate to live in a place where climate change is not such a massive issue as it is in Nicaragua. The beautiful greenery and landscapes are breathtaking as we saw from the top of the volcano. However we have also heard about how El Nino (a weather system) has affected the country, especially the harvests and CAFOD partners have been working very hard to help people become more resilient and adapt to the changing climates. We will be learning more about this issue over the next few weeks.

Join CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign to support communities around the world affected by climate change

These past few days have been truly awe inspiring, and have got the team extremely excited for the next coming weeks ahead. As of next week, we will be venturing out of Managua and going into rural Nicaragua to meet CAFOD partners to truly immerse ourselves into the communities and everyday life of those around us.

Some exciting things that are planned ahead for us  over the next coming weeks is beekeeping, as well as learning about the importance of  empowerment of  women here in Nicaragua, we also have the opportunity to visit social housing projects as well as assisting the Sisters of the Guardian Angels.

Interested in the Step into the Gap programme? Applications are open now

Read more blogs from young people – meet our Young Climate Bloggers

Introducing our new CAFOD young climate bloggers!

CAFOD's new young climate bloggers!
Some of CAFOD’s new young climate bloggers!

Our 25 new CAFOD young climate bloggers are launching One Climate, One World for children and young people today at Brentwood Cathedral. They have been training with CAFOD in media and campaigning at the Othona Community in Essex. They will be blogging on climate and environment issues throughout 2015. Here are their very first blogs: Continue reading “Introducing our new CAFOD young climate bloggers!”

Voices from the Philippines: Cleofas

Across the world, disasters disproportionately affect those who are already living in poverty. A changing climate is set to make this situation worse. Cleofas Friego lost her home and her means of making a living because of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda). She says:

“The typhoons we had before were not that strong compared to what we have now.

“Typhoon Yolanda affected us because it destroyed almost all our coconut trees, which is how we earned our income. It takes about six years for coconut trees to grow back. We used to harvest three times a year. Now we have difficulty finding sources of food for our children.

“CAFOD and Catholic Relief Services helped us to set up a new garden. We will plant vegetables, so we have food to eat. If I ever get to earn a living again, I will rebuild my house, send my children to school and send my disabled child for medical treatment.”

A new start?

Thanks to your donations to our Philippines Typhoon appeal, Cleofas is starting to make a living again. But the Philippines is repeatedly hit by typhoons, which could leave farmers like Cleofas having to start again from scratch.

CAFOD’s campaign, One Climate, One World, asks British political leaders to work with other countries to secure an ambitious international deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to support the transition from polluting fossil fuels to sustainable energy. Add your name to our climate petition today.