Nepal Earthquake: Teacher Top Trumps fundraiser

As we mark six months since the devastating earthquake hit Nepal, Stephen, a student at St Columba’s College, describes his unique fundraising idea to raise money to support people affected in Nepal.

The earthquake in Nepal was truly devastating, and when I heard of the suffering that these people were going through in the aftermath I was moved by the resilience that they showed.

Stephen a young CAFOD supporter
Stephen a young CAFOD supporter

I knew that CAFOD, our College’s charity, would be equally moved and their amazing volunteers wouldn’t hesitate to help. I wanted to do all that I could to support them, so I got to work brainstorming ideas. I knew it’d have to be something more ambitious than a bake sale or a bucket brigade, something that wouldn’t be forgotten the next day, something that would get the whole school involved.

Read about CAFOD’s work in Nepal, six months on.

The easiest way to get word around a whole school is through the staff, and I needed something that people would give money for. The students and staff of St Columba’s are often very philanthropic, so many of them had sent off donations privately. I needed a product that I could sell.

Teacher Top Trumps. It wasn’t new, it wasn’t original but I knew it’d work. I wasted no time, every second that I wasn’t revising or sleeping I was focusing on the Top Trumps. It was by far the biggest solo project I had ever worked on. Continue reading “Nepal Earthquake: Teacher Top Trumps fundraiser”

Harvest Fast Day: Behind the scenes of the Brighten Up film

Kathleen O’Brien is our secondary resources coordinator, leading on the material for young people this Harvest Fast Day.

Watch our Brighten Up Harvest film, and then read Kathleen’s blog about the making of it:

Bright peace building projects in El Salvador

If you visit the education webpages this Harvest you will be greeted by Isabel and Diego, two young people who explain what life is like in a gang-dominated area of El Salvador, and talk about how CAFOD partners are helping their community to create safe, bright spaces where children and young people can play, learn and meet with their friends.

Watch our film about Isabel

Watch our film about Diego

We really wanted to convey the brightness of this project in El Salvador, the brightness of the community, and the brightness of a hopeful future. So this Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world. To do this, we set about making a short, bright, fun clip to introduce the fundraising theme.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Behind the scenes of the Brighten Up film”

International Day of Peace – 21 September 2015

Tabitha Ross is a CAFOD freelancer who works in Lebanon. On International Day of Peace she tells us about Eman and Hanigal – two mothers who have been forced to leave their homes in Syria because of the ongoing conflict.

Eman’s story

Eman's nieces in Lebanon
Eman’s nieces in Lebanon

Sitting on a blanket on the grass in the warmth of the sun, Eman looks shell-shocked to find herself in Lebanon, safe from the fear of violence for the first time in nearly four years. When I meet her, she has been here just over two weeks.

Despite coming from Daraa, the region of Syria where the uprising first began on 15 March 2011, and which has seen bitter fighting and bombing, Eman only decided to flee the country this year.

I ask what was the final straw, after so much suffering, that pushed her to leave. With tears in her eyes she said: “At the start of the war my husband disappeared, so I didn’t want to leave because I had the idea that he would come back. But in February my house was bombed and destroyed, so I decided to come here.”

Please support our Refugee Crisis Appeal

Eman tells me how she and her four children spent three days on the road from Daraa to Damascus. Reaching the capital, they spent two nights sleeping in the freezing street. Finally a taxi driver took pity on them and brought them here to Lebanon, where she is staying with a cousin in an unfinished breeze block construction in the Bekaa Valley.

“I feel ashamed because I have no money and the family that I am staying with have barely any money either. Maybe we eat one day and then for three days we do not, because we don’t have the money to buy food,” she said. Continue reading “International Day of Peace – 21 September 2015”

My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough

Rosemary has supported CAFOD for over 30 years – buying World Gifts, taking part in LiveSimply, praying for our partners around the world, and even running the London Marathon. Rosemary tells us why giving is important to her and what her plans are for Harvest Fast Day.

Justice in my family

Rosemary after running the London Marathon for CAFOD in 2015
Rosemary after running the London Marathon for CAFOD in 2015

When my husband and I first moved to Norwich, about 34 years ago, our finances were quite tricky. We prayed and decided we would put God first. We decided to tithe our income and give 10 per cent back to the Lord for his Kingdom work. A big proportion of our funds went to CAFOD. We wanted our tithing to go towards justice and peace work because we believe there has to be justice before there can be peace. How can people live peacefully in their hearts when others are struggling? As Pope Paul said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Download Fast Day resources to help you organise a Fast Day collection in your parish.

I brought my children up to think about justice within the family and being fair. We don’t take things from each other without asking because we’re depriving that person of a chance to be generous. If you’re asked, the kind thing is to say: “Yes, you may borrow it.” But you have to ask first, otherwise you’re taking from that person and presuming they’ll be generous. Then they can have the blessing from making a good choice. Continue reading “My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough”

Harvest Fast Day: Romero continues to inspire young people this Harvest

Kathleen (back row, far left) in El Salvador.
Kathleen (back row, far left) in El Salvador.

Kathleen O’Brien is in our schools team and coordinates resources for secondary schools.

Last February, I was privileged to be in El Salvador when the announcement came that Pope Francis had declared San Salvador’s one-time Archbishop, Oscar Romero to be a martyr, meaning that a date could be set for his beatification. There was great joy expressed by everyone we met that day. One of the Jesuits at the university said to us, “The whole of Latin America has been waiting for this event for thirty-five years!”

Watch our Romero film

Schools in England and Wales are familiar with the name ‘Oscar Romero’. Sometimes when our team visits a school we hear that ‘Romero House’ is the name chosen for one of the school house teams. That resonates with us, as we named our London office building ‘Romero House’ after our former CAFOD partner. Many pupils have learned about Romero’s life in RE lessons during Year 6 of primary school or in the first two or three years of secondary school.

That’s why, in this special year when Romero officially became ‘Blessed Oscar Romero’, we wanted to use El Salvador as the focus for our Harvest materials for schools. The materials look at the stories of Diego (8) and Isabel (15) from San Salvador.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Romero continues to inspire young people this Harvest”

Running and facepainting for CAFOD: young climate bloggers take action

St Roberts climate bloggers Our young climate bloggers are fantastic! They continue to inspire us with all they are doing to fundraise and raise awareness about climate change and the work CAFOD does with its partners. One of our schools, St Robert’s, has two groups that blog frequently about what they think and the action they are taking. Daniel tells how he was inspired to act:

I’m just a 15 year old boy who wants to make a difference and I decided in order to do that I needed to act. As an avid runner I decided that this might be a good way for me to make a difference: by fundraising, and I’m going to start fundraising for CAFOD by running. However you do not have to be good at this, you could swim, cycle even abseil!  Are you up to the challenge? It’s very easy to become part of Team CAFOD and to help fundraise!

Daniel is going to be running in the Great North 5K in September, so do sponsor him at his CAFOD fundraising page! And another group from St Robert’s talks about how they have been invited to help others in their school raise awareness and funds. Here’s just one example:

Continue reading “Running and facepainting for CAFOD: young climate bloggers take action”

Pedal Against Poverty 2015

Jon Stricklin-Coutinho, Manager for Westminster Diocese, tells us why you should Pedal Against Poverty.

Pedal Against Poverty for CAFOD
Pedal Against Poverty annual bike ride

For nearly a decade CAFOD supporters from Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood have come together in the Lee Valley to Pedal Against Poverty. On Sunday 7 June almost 200 cyclists will be taking over the tow paths for a morning, just as they do every summer. Incredibly, in this ninth year of the event, our combined fundraising total over the years should reach £100,000!

Sign up to Pedal Against Poverty on Sunday 7 June 2015

So what can attendees expect on the day? As CAFOD’s Manager for Westminster Diocese, my day starts at Ponders End Lock – the starting point of our more challenging 19 mile route – at 10:15am. Riders can also choose the more family-friendly ten mile distance, with these riders congregating at Cheshunt. There’s a real party atmosphere as everyone picks up their ride number, with our volunteers registering the most spontaneous of our riders and giving out last-minute CAFOD vests and t-shirts. My responsibility is the safety briefing (we are cycling along a tow path after all!) and checking that everyone has a helmet. Then there’s the obligatory group photo before the shout is given and the cyclists are off! Continue reading “Pedal Against Poverty 2015”

Lent Hope Journal: Reflecting on my Lent journey

Ellie Wilcock head shot
Ellie

Ellie is CAFOD’s PR Officer. This Lent, she has doubled her cycling to work and will give what she saves on travel to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal. Today, her personal Lent journal focuses on her Lent journey.

Lent is one of my favourite times of year. It’s a time for reflection and living simply, and marks the ever-welcome transition between winter and spring. Ash Wednesday is often cold and wet, but by the time Easter Sunday arrives, the nights are getting longer, the daffodils are in full bloom and my winter clothes have been packed away.

Lent is also one of the most important periods in the CAFOD calendar. Our fantastic supporters – school and youth groups, parishes and individuals – pull out all the stops to come up with unique fundraising ideas to raise as much money as possible for our Lent Appeal. Romero House – CAFOD’s London office – is a hive of activity and updates on how the appeal is going are bound to put you in high spirits.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

Many of my colleagues have embarked on Lent challenges this year – either doubling something up or cutting something out: Ffion and Laura have doubled their baking, keeping me stocked in sweet treats and raising funds in the process; Mariacristina’s delicious Neapolitan dishes have been the talk of the town during lunchtimes; and Mark has cut out eggs, dairy, and honey (he’s a vegetarian so it’s no mean feat!). Continue reading “Lent Hope Journal: Reflecting on my Lent journey”

Neapolitan cooking to support CAFOD Lent Appeal

Mariacristina Lubrano works in the Digital team at CAFOD. She is a proud Neapolitan who is writing a cook book of recipes that she has learned from her grannies and mum since she was 13 years old. In her first ever attempt at fundraising for CAFOD, she has doubled her cooking for Lent and will give what she raises from selling her goodies to CAFOD Lent Appeal.

CAFOD Lent fundraising
Mariacristina, on the left, shares her Baba Rustico with her colleague Susan.

Making lunch for my colleagues: my Lent promise!

When I look back at the day I committed to my Lenten promise, I’m not sure what I was thinking…wait, I actually do! Because this year the UK government is matching every pound raised in support of our Lent Appeal, after some thought, I told my colleagues that I would double the amount of Neapolitan food from the recipe book I am writing and share it with them all to fundraise towards our Appeal.

I was so excited to know that my colleagues would taste some of the family recipes I grew up with and I was taught by my grannies and mum. But more importantly the idea of having double the impact on the lives of people like Martin and Kyin Nu and their communities in Myanmar meant the world to me and got me even more motivated towards my fundraising target. Continue reading “Neapolitan cooking to support CAFOD Lent Appeal”

Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges

Ffion baking
Ffion starting her Lent baking challenge

Having passed the half way point in Lent 2015 earlier this week, our Web Editor Ffion Dean updates us on how she and other CAFOD staff are coping with their Lent challenges.

When I realised we were only half way through Lent my heart sank a little. It feels like ages since the beginning of Lent. Does that mean it will feel like a long time until Easter for me and my colleagues who have taken on Lent challenges? I’ve heard office rumours of a few Lent set-backs but everyone is putting a lot of time, thought and effort into their challenges.

Watch our first Lenten journey video to find out what some CAFOD staff have been cutting out and doubling up this Lent:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yBjrQCjxs&w=560&h=315]

Burned cakes and new inventions

I’ve been doubling my baking to raise money for the CAFOD Lent Appeal. I was a bit nervous and pressed for time in my first week so I made something simple – a Lemon Drizzle Cake. It came out well and all twelve slices were sold for a pound each by mid-afternoon the following day. Continue reading “Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges”