Caroline Collins is a Step into the Gap volunteer at Newman University in Birmingham. This week she is getting ready for Family Fast Day.
At Newman University we have been preparing to swap our usual Friday lunch boxes for a simple soup lunch.
For so many of our brothers and sisters around the world, the harvest determines whether their families will go to bed hungry tonight.
For Lilian in Zambia, a good harvest is so important. It means she can feed herself and her family in the coming months, and sell any extra food to buy school clothes, books and materials to build a home.
CAFOD’s World News Manager, Nana Anto-Awuakye explains how your donations for Family Fast Day will instill hope into those that see eating as a luxury.
On Sunday 23 September, pottering about in the kitchen, my constant companion – the radio – informs me that this very day is the autumn equinox, when day and night meet as equals, the official start of autumn.
I glance out through the kitchen window onto my garden, and see that the leaves are already falling, and turning their magnificent autumn yellows, browns and berry colours.
Your Harvest donations are a vital lifeline for people all over the world. Last Harvest we introduced you to a community in Bolivia and invited you to join them in their journey towards an abundant harvest. One year into the project, Nikki Evans, CAFOD’s Bolivia Programme Officer, revisits one of the families you have helped.
Tania works as Communications Officer in our Latin America Team. Her role involves lots of opportunities to meet inspiring people like Edelmira, whose story of flourishing and achievement we are celebrating this Harvest Fast Day.
My first impressions of Edelmira when I met her in 2016, were of a friendly, welcoming woman, constantly busy. She was a little nervous of meeting me, a visitor from far away. I was also nervous about visiting Edelmira. CAFOD had sent me to interview her for our Connect2 El Salvador parish programme, and I was feeling the weight of responsibility!
Laura Ouseley works in CAFOD’s Media team. This Harvest, inspired by the efforts of our partners in Bolivia, Laura tells us about her own struggles for vegetable garden bliss.
I’ve only had my allotment a couple of years, but have already learnt so much. My friends and family have also learnt – the hard way – that it is now my favourite (and they would argue, only) topic of conversation!
Whilst I’ve discovered so much about the different varieties of fruit and vegetables that can be grown, I’ve learnt far more about the challenges faced by the grower: from fighting back pests, preventing the spread of disease, removing stubborn weeds and preparing soil, to trying to deal with the impacts of unpredictable weather and climate.
David Mutua, CAFOD’s Africa News Officer based in Nairobi, reflects on some of the invaluable projects he has seen helping people to grow food in Kenya.
Kenya is renowned not only for its award-winning beaches but also the breathtaking safaris. Alongside the 47 million citizens who call Kenya home, many people across the United Kingdom have a special place in their hearts for my country. Members of the British Royal Family have holidayed amidst some of our natural beauty spots on the foothills of Mount Kenya.
Away from the tourist brochures, the lives of so many are being disrupted by the adverse effects of climate change. For people who have always lived off the land, who depend on it to feed their families and earn a living, these changes are having a dramatic impact.
CAFOD food and farming projects in northern Kenya
In June I headed to Maralal and Marsabit in northern Kenya, where CAFOD is working on a climate and agriculture programme funded by our Lent 2015 appeal. The UK government matched pound for pound £5m raised by CAFOD’s supporters, and we are using part of this money to work alongside our partners Caritas Maralal and Caritas Marsabit to teach more than 97,000 community members sustainable farming methods that can be adopted in the very unforgiving environment.
Today, on CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day, so many of our brothers and sisters around the world are still not able to grow enough food. Sally Kitchener shares one mother’s mission to grow enough food and how you can support her along her journey.
As the midday sun beats down on the Bolivian Altiplano, Nicanora swings the heavy wooden hoe into the soil once more and prises up half a dozen small potatoes. She pauses, straightens, and rests a hand on her aching back. The 32-year-old mother of four has been working since dawn. But however hard she works, Nicanora knows that when she gets to the end of the day, her children will still go to bed hungry.
“The days when we don’t have much food, we eat a soup of ground barley mixed with water,” says Nicanora, her gaze resting on the failing onion crop by her side. “When we eat just this soup all day, we get tired very quickly.”
With last year’s food store about to run out and the next harvest still three months away, the family are facing crisis point. Two months ago, Nicanora’s husband Santiago was forced to leave the family farm in search of income. Every day for the past two months Nicanora has risen at dawn and worked the land on her own. Tomorrow she will do the same, because she doesn’t know when her husband will return.
Catherine Gorman works in CAFOD’s Theology Programme. She reflects on a request from Vladimir in Bolivia that we pray for him and his family this Harvest.
“If people in England and Wales were able to pray for us, we’d like them to pray for our dreams to come true and that our work isn’t in vain, but that what we wish for our land will come true.” Vladimir, 25, Bolivia
Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.
‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.
In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.
Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!