This year, CAFOD supporter Stephen Garsed is encouraging fellow parishioners at Our Lady and St Edward’s parish in Preston, to think about living simply and loving abundantly this Christmas. Here are his top six suggestions…
The word we hear so often in the weeks before Christmas is ‘tradition’. It is particularly promoted by the glossy magazines who like to sell us the concept of ‘the perfect Christmas’.
Sarah Hagger-Holt works in CAFOD’s campaigns team. She’s determined not to give up hope that together we can build a better world – here’s her seven reasons why.
There’s no disguising the fact that we face huge challenges in tackling climate change – but if we don’t recognise how far we’ve come, we won’t have the energy we need for upcoming battles.
So, if you are tempted to give up hope, read on for seven reasons to stay cheerful.
We can overcome our differences. This week, the UK joined 110 other countries who have ratified the Paris Agreement for cutting carbon emissions and tackling climate change. Something worth celebrating!
Chris Bird was a volunteer at Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle as part of the Step into the Gap programme. Here he reflects on his first experience of campaigning and marching with CAFOD to show his support for welcoming refugees.
As our group of CAFOD representatives walked around the corner of what seemed to be just another generic grey building in London, in front of us opened up a flood of people and noise.
Thousands of people marching, chanting, singing, playing drums and holding placards. The atmosphere of humdrum London had changed into an energized, passionate movement.
What surprised me most was the diversity in the crowd, our group of mixed-aged CAFOD supporters with placards, immediately dispersed into the plethora of people of different backgrounds, age, race, class, faith and no faith. Yet all these people were here for one reason, to be part of a voice standing in solidarity welcoming refugees. It was quite something to behold. Continue reading “Refugee march: Bravery, compassion and hope”
Clare Grimes is a CAFOD schools volunteer working with children in the Hallam diocese. Over the last few months Clare has been running the Year of Mercy pilgrimage with children, and has been encouraging schools to take part in the refugee action.
‘I was moved by the child who shared that his hope was to see the world at peace with no more wars.‘
Friday 17 June was a nice sunny day and I felt very happy to be visiting St Thomas More school in Sheffield to hold a ‘Welcome the stranger’ refugee workshop with a Year 6 class. Alex and Rose, two other volunteers for CAFOD were also coming to help. I had led this workshop with other schools and had excellent response and participation, so I was really looking forward to another opportunity. The children entered the hall very quietly and looked happy and expectant.
We began with a presentation of various pictures of refugees and shared the facts and figures. The children answered questions intelligently and eagerly. When asked about their hopes and dreams they were forthcoming and shared their aspirations to be actresses, doctors, teachers, just to get married, Olympic athletes, and footballers of note.
I was moved by the child who shared that his hope was to see the world at peace with no more wars.
We then showed the film/video of the refugee children and their hopes and dreams.
This week we heard that there are a record 65 million people displaced around the world. The European crisis is mirrored across the planet: in Colombia, in Central America, in the Middle East and many more places, including many of the countries where CAFOD works.
Fleeing war, poverty and persecution, people are moving in search of peace and prosperity – a better life for their families. A few find their way to the UK. There are likely to be refugees living in your parish.
It can seem like these global issues are far beyond what we as individuals and families can do to help. But in this Year of Mercy, we are reminded that we should welcome the stranger. We’ve already been moved and encouraged by the number of schools, parishes and individuals who are showing solidarity with refugees.
In July, Takura Gwatinyanya, from CAFOD partner Caritas Harare, will be travelling across England and Wales to share his passion for tackling poverty and to show how your support is making a difference in Zimbabwe.
Meet Takura and discover more about CAFOD’s climate and energy campaign at a series of special events, starting in London on Wednesday 6 July.
We caught up with Takura to ask his about his family, his work and what keeps him motivated.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to Rutendo Avriel, and we have one five-year-old son.
You’re an expert in water and sanitation. What makes you passionate about this area?
My experience in sanitation and humanitarian work has shown me that access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. It bring human dignity, with immediate and evidenced results. The need for decent water and sanitation cuts across all ages and all backgrounds, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor.
Pumps run on solar power are helping people in the communities where I work to access clean water and are reducing the time it takes people to collect water.
Last week, I spent the day with a group reflecting on Laudato Si’and on our response. We began by sharing our own stories of journeys made and new turns taken.
Several people spoke of leaving home and family in their teens or early twenties to live and work overseas, of becoming adults in countries they knew little about, and dealing with situations for which they were totally unprepared. Continue reading “Lampedusa cross: We are all migrants”
In this guest blog, Caroline Grogan from CSAN shares some of what CSAN and JRS are doing to speak out for refugees in the UK.
The issue of immigration detention is particularly important to CSAN which works with the Detention Forum, (a network of organisations working together to challenge the UK’s use of detention). Immigration detention is when someone who does not have the legal right to remain in the UK is detained, until a decision is reached about their eligibility to remain in the country or be deported.
Inspired by the values of Catholic Social Teaching, the two most fundamental principles for CSAN are Human Dignity and the Common Good. This means that we are all equal in the eyes of God. We share the world and therefore share the responsibility for protecting our brothers and sisters in detention.
Tom Hallsworth works with Animate Youth Ministries in St Helen’s in the Liverpool Archdiocese, leading retreat days with young people aged 11-25 to inspire them to live out the Gospel and social justice. He’s part of the CAFOD ambassador scheme, connecting CAFOD with youth centres across the country.
I’ve been working hard to help young people to understand the refugee crisis, and see what we can do to help. I organised a session in my church where we started with an icebreaker on refugee statistics and also had interactive prayer stations to help people to reflect and think about refugees.
The young people found it really striking that more than half of refugees worldwide are under 18 years old. It got us thinking about what it would be like to be in their shoes. My friend told me she was shocked that so many refugees are young, are unaccompanied children, why can’t they sort it out? It’s such a huge problem, there are just so many.
Then we used CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross action cards to write our own messages of hope for refugees. I’ve collected hundreds of these messages, and the numbers are still growing.
Katie Thilthorpe works in the CAFOD Schools Team. She recently received a batch of letters and work from children in XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire who have been exploring life in El Salvador.
“After I saw your beautiful landscape I wished I could live in El Salvador but the only thing that makes me sad is the water pollution. That’s why we are raising money for your country and right now we have £500. When we raise enough we will send it to CAFOD and they will send it to you. I hope that you will have nice clean water and I hope to see you and the Sierra Madre mountains one day.” Olivia, Year 4.
Since its release in 2015 primary schools across England and Wales have been using CAFOD’s El Salvador geography photo pack, including XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire. All the children in the school aged 7-11 have been using the resources, and in March the pupils wrote letters to the four children featured in the pack. The school kindly sent some of the letters to us and I was lucky enough to read them.
The El Salvador pack, which can be ordered or downloaded online, includes a country map, information sheets, photo cards and links to brilliant online films, which bring the stories and themes from the pack to life. Continue reading “Learning about climate in class”