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.
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.
CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Ciara Hogan shares her experiences of arriving in El Salvador, meeting CAFOD’s partners and seeing inspiring, creative projects.
Our first few days in Central America have been absolutely incredible. In the short time we’ve been here we have already experienced so many different people and places, each giving us so much to think about and reflect on.
CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Siobhan Doyle shares her experiences of arriving in West Africa, meeting CAFOD’s partners and seeing the projects that fundraising in England and Wales has helped to fund.
We have now been in Sierra Leone for three days and have been eating lots of plantain, chicken, and rice! The food is amazing, and I have been eating plantain all day.
We arrived in Freetown on Sunday night. We got a boat taxi from the airport to Freetown and Janet, who is the program officer, and Alusine, the driver, met us to take us to the hotel. We then had dinner and went straight to bed after the long journey.
Our team of Step into the Gap volunteers are about to depart for their overseas trips to either Sierra Leona or Nicaragua and El Salvador. We asked them how they are feeling and how they are preparing for their trips.
Kayleigh, Christopher, Siobhan and Hannah are travelling to Sierra Leone.
Kayleigh is on placement at The Briars youth residential centre in Nottingham diocese
At The Briars we use our morning prayer time and workshop sessions to help young people be aware of many of the issues facing communities in Sierra Leone, for example, recovering from the recent landslide.
When I get back from visiting Sierra Leone I will get the opportunity to visit groups of young people and share what I’ve learnt, and I am so keen to get out there to tell them about the people of Sierra Leone, as I already know that they are invested in what I will be seeing and who I will be meeting. I cannot contain my gratitude and excitement and I truly acknowledge that this programme is a once in a lifetime.
Christina Lucey, a parishioner at St Mary Magdalene, Bexhill-on-Sea, and CAFOD volunteer, writes about her experience of hearing Pope Francis announce the new global migration campaign – ‘Share the Journey’ – at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.
What a wonderful morning – despite having to queue for over an hour from 7am to have a chance of a good situation in the square! Under the guidance of our tour guide, our group managed to find places close to the barrier where we could sit and rest for the long wait until Pope Francis was scheduled to appear.
There was great excitement when Pope Francis finally appeared and did his usual tour. I stood on a chair so that I could see better and was able to alert the group when he was coming. We had to wait until almost the end, but it was worth it.
Joy Wanless is a volunteer with CAFOD Salford. She shares about what inspired her to become a prayer-writing volunteer. Find out how you can join her.
Me, write a reflection, write prayers? Not I! I was used to reciting traditional prayers and following liturgies prepared by others. Belonging to the Spirituality Team in Salford diocese changed all that. As I became more interested in following CAFOD stories, learning about the treacherous difficulties of life in many parts of the world and the generosity of CAFOD volunteers, I wanted to fuel their passion by enmeshing the prayer with the stories.
A very moving moment from a story which touched me greatly was at a Water Pilgrimage we planned around the diocese, travelling between the churches. As part of the prayer we gave out pieces of rope and invited people to tie them tightly round their waists. This was inspired by the story of Ayapan who ties string round her waist and drinks hot water to cope with hunger.
I’m Lizzie, I’ve just finished a placement at Just Youth in Salford as part of the Step into the Gap programme. Last Harvest I had a great experience speaking at Mass for Harvest Fast Day – I hope you will do the same this year!
During our training weekend for the Step into the Gap programme, we found out that we would have the chance to speak for CAFOD at Mass at both Harvest and Lent for Fast Day. Back in July this seemed a long time away, but it came around really quickly and before I knew it, it was time to organise our talks.
Preparing to speak at Mass
Although we were a bit nervous it’s actually really easy to prepare for speaking at Mass. The short talk is available on the website, along with lots of other great resources for Harvest. There are even resources specifically for young people planning to speak at Mass. If you’d like to meet up with other volunteers and local CAFOD staff in your area for you can go along to the Harvest briefings which are held in dioceses across England and Wales.