School students worldwide have been raising their voices to demand that the climate emergency is addressed with urgency. As Swedish schoolgirl campaigner Greta Thunberg famously said: “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
At CAFOD, we are privileged to encounter children and young people acting on this issue both in poor communities overseas and in England and Wales.
Sarah George is a CAFOD volunteer who moved to the Caribbean with her family as a child. She describes how, after going on to work for the Department of Fisheries in St Lucia, she saw the effects of climate change first hand.
For fans of TV courtroom dramas, the word “advocate” may well evoke visions of efficient-looking and aggressive-sounding be-wigged barristers. But what it brings to my own mind is the many times I hear the word “advocacy” being used, here in the CAFOD office in London.
Allie Phillip leads Caritas St Lucia’s ‘Youth Emergency Action Committees’ (YEACs), which help vulnerable communities be their own first responders when disasters strike.
St Lucia is in the ‘hurricane belt’ of the Caribbean. The YEACs are run by young people who train other community members to be prepared for, mitigate, and manage responses to extreme weather.
Allie also coordinates the Church’s regional emergency response and the network of YEACs in the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma in 2017 was a particularly bad hurricane, killing people and destroying communities in 14 countries.
Here, Allie offers Sam from our campaigns team her reflections on her current work, climate change and young people.
Today is International Human Rights Day. Esther Gillingham, CAFOD’S Brazil Programme Officer explains how CAFOD’s partner, Justice on the Railway Tracks is empowering human rights defenders and changing lives in Brazil.
CAFOD are very proud to share the news that our Brazilian partner, Justice on the Railway Tracks was presented with the first ever Human Rights and Business Foundation Award presented at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on 27th November 2018.
They received the award for their work defending poor communities from the impacts of human rights and environmental abuses by mining companies in the Amazonian state of Maranhao in north-eastern Brazil.
This work included a 13-year long legal struggle which resulted in the landmark resettlement of the Piquia de Baixo community who have been adversely affected by a huge steel plant built right next to their community in the 1980s.
Francis Stewart works in our theology team. In this blog he looks at the links between the two new saints whose lives have such prophetic meaning for CAFOD.
By canonising Oscar Romero and Pope Paul VI together, Pope Francis is surely pointing out to us the connections between two humble yet courageous men. So what links these two great advocates of “a Church of the poor and for the poor”?
“Patron saints” of CAFOD’s work
Both men have been inspirational for CAFOD’s mission. This is because of what the teachings of one and the life of the other show us about a true encounter with people who are poor.
Find out more about Romero’s life, with our timeline.
Tania Dalton was a member of CAFOD’s Latin America team for nearly 13 years. In this blog she explains how Archbishop Oscar Romero has inspired her to begin a new chapter in her life.
Two big things are happening in my life right now:
I have started to train as a primary school teacher
Blessed Oscar Romero is being officially recognised as a saint on 14 October
It might seem conceited to say the two things are related, but in my mind, they are.
Inspired by Oscar Romero
I first heard about Archbishop Oscar Romero when I started working in CAFOD in 1999. I am inspired daily by Romero’s unwavering option for the poor, although I was a small child when he was killed for his defence of basic human rights and social justice.
On International Day of the Disappeared, CAFOD’s Clare Dixon shares the story of people who worked at the height of the conflict in El Salvador to make sure people killed by death squads did not just disappear without a trace. Sadly, some of the details of this story are distressing.
The first time I visited El Salvador in 1981 the country was plunged in a brutal civil war. Thousands of ordinary men and women were being targeted by the army and death squads, just for demanding their basic human rights, a decent wage, and freedom of speech. Nobody ventured out after dark for fear of being arrested or just snatched off the streets and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread.
Archbishop Romero, the “voice of the voiceless” who had espoused and defended the cause of the poor and oppressed, had been shot dead as he said Mass in 1980. A year later I was visiting El Salvador to meet with members of his Archdiocese who, with the support of CAFOD, had set up a human rights office. Its task was to provide legal aid to help and comfort the countless victims of violence who had nowhere else to turn when their loved ones had “disappeared” after being captured by the death squads.