What our Lent challenges taught us

Hal and Cherrie from London based east-meets-west electronic pop group Ooberfuse have finish their Lent challenges! They told us how they felt being free to enjoy their favourite treats, and what they’ll take away from the experience.

Hal: It’s been a long drawn out ordeal. But then that’s the whole point of a 40 day period of abstinence. I never thought I would miss the discipline required to stay  faithful to my Lenten pledge. As reported earlier, depriving myself of hot food and hot drinks could not have come at a colder time of the year. It was a perfect storm which made the challenge more intensified.

Cherrie: Weirdly I think I miss the afterglow of depriving myself of what previously I considered to be essential – a daily dose of chocolates.

It’s not too late to donate to our Lent appeal and have your donation doubled by the UK Government

Continue reading “What our Lent challenges taught us”

Coping without social media

Georgia, a student at De Montfort University in Leicester, has been on a digital detox for Lent, giving up all forms of social media. She told us how she’s got on with her Give It Up Challenge.

At the time of writing this blog I am 33 days into not using Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I can’t believe I have come this far- the end is near.

This Lenten challenge has definitely been one of the toughest ones that I have decided to take on. I have found that the most difficult part of the challenge so far is feeling disconnected. The dreaded ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) has always been in the back of my mind. I’ve found that I’ve missed Facebook the most- practically anyway. It is hard having to rely on people to relay information you need whether that be for events or notifications from my sports team. I wouldn’t say its my favourite social media app- but the most useful for my everyday life.

The reaction I have had to this challenge has been “are you crazy?”, “what do you do on your phone then?”. I have to admit these were my first thoughts when I began contemplating the idea. I think the most unexpected thing however is that I don’t miss it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. It has just caused minor inconveniences. I definitely haven’t felt like I have been missing out on anything socially like I did before with seeing people’s snapchat and Instagram stories. Because if its not there to see there is no FOMO.  This realization has definitely emphasized how people’s online persona is so different from their reality.

See our favourite Easter prayers

Continue reading “Coping without social media”

Give it up: visiting schools this Lent

Gillie Drinkall is a CAFOD school volunteer who has been visiting schools in South London to talk about Zimbabwe, and to introduce the Lent Give it up challenge. 

Gillie is a school volunteer who has been sharing stories from Zimbabwe this Lent as part of the give it up appeal
Gillie delivering the CAFOD Lent assembly.

A primary school in South London.  A very small boy approached me and apologised for not being at my previous assembly as he was in hospital.  He then confided, with breathless excitement, “It’s my birthday in six days’ time!”. I wished him “Happy Birthday … in six days’ time” and turned to a slightly older boy who wanted to know how to give money to CAFOD as soon as possible.  I was reminded how much I enjoy talking to small children.

I have scheduled visits to an unusually high number of schools this Lent to share stories from Zimbabwe and to talk about the Give it up challenge.  As ever, until the first assembly unfolds, I am never quite sure how the children will respond.  This time I was going to try and show all the schools the short film featuring Svondo and his mother Marian who live in Zimbabwe.

Continue reading “Give it up: visiting schools this Lent”

Step into the Gap: Planting, Harvesting and Saving in Sierra Leone

Kayleigh Margetts, one of the Step into the Gap volunteers, who is currently on placement at The Briars retreat centre, shares her experience of seeing CAFOD’s partner work in Sierra Leone.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

In our second week, we travelled to Modia in Gbinleh Dixon chiefdom to visit the cassava farm and the vegetable garden that belonged to the community.

After having a wonderful experience meeting the community of Maforay the day before, all of us were excited to meet this new group of people with inspiring experiences and an incredible culture.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap: Planting, Harvesting and Saving in Sierra Leone”

Step into the Gap: Hope and Sustainability in El Salvador

CAFOD gap year volunteers, Ciara Hogan and Sophie Aulton, who are currently on their placements at The Briars and Leeds Trinity University, reflect on hope and sustainability in El Salvador.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

Continue reading “Step into the Gap: Hope and Sustainability in El Salvador”

“When they heard my Palestinian accent, they didn’t call back”

Richard Sloman is CAFOD’s Middle East Programme Officer. Here he reflects on his time in Lebanon where almost 40 per cent of the population are Syrian and Palestinian refugees. Richard visited one of Lebanon’s twelve Palestinian refugee camps – home to 450,000 people, one in ten of the country’s population.

Bourj el Barajneh in Beirut, Lebanon is one of the world’s oldest refugee camps. Established in 1948, it’s home to more than 31,000 people. These women, men and children live in just one square kilometre of land. That’s roughly 31 people for every square metre of earth.

Please give to CAFOD’s Advent appeal to help people living in poverty

Continue reading ““When they heard my Palestinian accent, they didn’t call back””

Gifts in wills: Lisl’s legacy of love

CAFOD legacy officer Hannah Caldwell shares the inspiring story of Lisl Steiner, who fled the Nazis, became a teacher and continues to change children’s lives by the gift she left to CAFOD in her will.

There are so many inspirational people at the heart of CAFOD’s work, each with their own story. I’m lucky that in my job every now and then I get to hear a little more of some of these stories.

One that I often think of is that of Lisl Steiner, who supported CAFOD for many years and remembered us with a gift in her will.

Lisl was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, 1923. At 15, as the world was on the brink of war and Jews were suffering cruelty and persecution at the hands of the Nazi regime, she made a lonely journey to England.

Continue reading “Gifts in wills: Lisl’s legacy of love”

Working in emergencies: meet Zoë, our Emergency Support Officer

Zoë Corden tells us what it is like working for CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team and what a typical day in the office is like for her. 

What is your role at CAFOD?

I am an Emergency Support Officer in the Emergency Response Team. We are a small team of people who are sent into all types of emergencies that CAFOD responds to. My job is to help CAFOD partners when an emergency happens.

What kind of emergencies does CAFOD respond to?

We respond to a range of emergencies and no two are the same. There are ‘rapid onset’ emergencies, that hit suddenly, like earthquakes and floods, which you’ll usually see in the news; but there are also smaller emergencies that sadly don’t make the news, or receive so much money, despite many people being affected – we call these ‘hidden’ emergencies.

Find out how the Emergency Response Team helps people caught in emergencies

Continue reading “Working in emergencies: meet Zoë, our Emergency Support Officer”

Looking back at 30 years of CAFOD’s work on HIV and AIDS

Rob Rees worked in the Africa team at CAFOD for 27 years. He recently shared his experiences of first learning the impact of HIV and AIDS in the communities where he worked at CAFOD’s ‘Marking 30 years of responding to HIV and AIDS’ event.

Rob Rees, former CAFOD employee who worked on HIV and AIDS
Rob Rees, former CAFOD employee who worked on HIV and AIDS

In 1986 reports came from Uganda of what was described as ‘slim disease’. The disease was causing weight loss and patients were not responding to any medication. I was due to travel around that time and was asked to add a few days on to my trip to go to Uganda and visit some of our partners and listen to the problems they were facing.

Read about how Kitovu Mobile in Uganda are responding to HIV and AIDS now

Continue reading “Looking back at 30 years of CAFOD’s work on HIV and AIDS”

My Lent challenge – giving up complaining!

Eleanor works in the Volunteer Support team at CAFOD. Here she talks about what inspired her Lent challenge this year.

CAFOD Lent appeal
From grumpy to grateful – Eleanor’s Lent challenge

7am ‘I’m so tired….urgh….why didn’t I go to bed earlier?

10am ‘How is it only 10am?! It feels like 5pm!’

1pm ‘I wish I’d brought a different lunch’

And repeat!

Looking back on some text messages I exchanged with a good friend of mine I realised that our conversations were a bit on the…whingey side! Not only that, but every conversation was an almost identical list of complaints about things that were really not worth complaining about.

Do something positive this Lent. Support our Lent Fast Day appeal.

Continue reading “My Lent challenge – giving up complaining!”