Step into the Gap – Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Jason Sheehan talks about how he has been inspired by the people volunteering with CAFOD partners who he met in Zimbabwe:

Jason has been inspired by the volunteers he has met in Zimbabwe
Jason has been inspired by the volunteers he has met in Zimbabwe

I sometimes get asked why it is that I’m volunteering a year of my life and at first I struggled to answer that question. But with the privilege I have had to meet volunteers across the world here in Zimbabwe it has shown me that to volunteer is a true act of love. The one thing that has been a constant throughout all the partners we have met with is that the incredible work going on each day couldn’t be done without people in the communities volunteering their time, knowledge and abilities.

Volunteer with CAFOD

We met with ‘Mavambo’ whose name carries a strong message. Mavambo translates to ‘The Beginning’, as their aim is to give disadvantaged and vulnerable children a beginning in life.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Volunteering in Zimbabwe”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Love is an Open Door of Mercy

Danielle Storey is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers. Here she writes about how the work of our partners in Zimbabwe is one way of showing the mercy Pope Francis has called for in this holy year:

Danielle is seeing CAFOD's work in Zimbabwe
Danielle is seeing CAFOD’s work in Zimbabwe

We’ve learnt so much after just two weeks spent in Zimbabwe that no book could have ever taught us. The people we’ve met so far are just amazing. With the help of CAFOD partners and their inspirational volunteers we have witnessed the true loving mercy of God in action; as the local priest said in his homily this week, the work of God is alive and active.

As Pope Francis has announced this year as the Year of Mercy, we are encouraged as a worldwide family to have compassion and share our love unconditionally with our sisters and brothers, no matter how hard that may be: “let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven”. The volunteers here put their all into helping children who have been orphaned and people who are living with disabilities, sickness, or are disadvantaged, all the while struggling themselves to earn money and feed their own families. They do it because they have love to share, they open their hearts to others because there are no labels in the eyes of God – we are all equal and everyone deserves that love. As one of the Shamware Dzedu, the friends of Mavambo, said, “Volunteers want to give everything; song, heart, power.” Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Love is an Open Door of Mercy”

Step into the Gap Peru – Water is a precious commodity

Bea Findley, one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers, has written about how water shortages are affecting communities in Peru:

Bea (second right) and fellow gap year volunteers at Lake Parón in Peru
Bea (second right) and fellow gap year volunteers at Lake Parón in Peru

We are about half way through our time in Peru now and I can’t believe it! It’s all happening so fast – I wish I could slow it down! I had a great week last week with partners on the outskirts of Lima and this week, we’re amongst the mountains.

We’ve been spending time with CAFOD partner CEAS, which is a social action commission of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.

CEAS’ work in Ancash is about fair water distribution and empowering the local community. All the water sustaining this region is from Lake Parón – an incredible natural resource high in the mountains. Streams and rivers flow down the mountains from the lake to all of the communities and families. Lake Parón sits beneath glaciers. As they melt and the rain falls, the lake fills and sends water to the communities. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Water is a precious commodity”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate

Katy Lowrey is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Zimbabwe. Here she writes about how vital birth certificates are to families and how difficult it can be for children to get one.

Katy is one of CAFOD's gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe
Katy is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe

We have been in Zimbabwe now a week and we have visited two different partners. Both have shown me so much: about life in Zimbabwe, an insight into the difficulties faced by organisations such as Mashambanzou and Mavambo – two of our partners – and the reality of what life is like for people living in poor communities.

Support people affected by climate change

One thing that has really stood out and shocked me and made me think is something that before this trip I would never have really thought of as being important in my life. What I have learned is that every child needs a birth certificate. Without it they cannot go to school, they cannot take exams, they cannot apply for an ID and they cannot vote. Therefore this means this child will grow up to be a human being without any rights, it takes away their dignity. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate”

Youth leaders: The People’s Climate March

Leah Fox is a volunteer at Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Here she reflects on her first experience of campaigning with CAFOD. In March Leah will be continuing her journey with CAFOD’s campaigning in a visit to Parliament with other youth leaders from across the country.

At the end of November I was asked to go and join CAFOD at the People’s Climate March in London. This was a peaceful demonstration to voice the opinion to world leaders that they need to act against climate change, just before they met in Paris to make some very important decisions. Climate change affects so many people across the world, but especially those living in poverty, so I was very excited to be joining others to help encourage world leaders to recognise and act on this issue.

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Leah (left) campaigning with other youth leaders at the climate march.

Get crafty and make, wear and share a green heart this Valentine’s Day

When I was asked to go, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had never been on any sort of march so I naively thought that there might be a few hundred people marching through London, interrupting people’s busy lives. So I was very surprised to join over 50,000 people walking from Hyde Park to Whitehall!

When we first arrived at the meeting point for the entire march we made our way to the section which had people from different faith groups marching together, towards the front. CAFOD was one of many faith-based charities that were marching. There were more people there already than I could ever have imagined. Soon we all had a CAFOD placard and a few others and myself drew green hearts on our faces to represent CAFOD. The energy from the march was amazing, with cheering, music and people talking over speakers. Politicians from every major political party spoke before the march to show what their party would do to prevent climate change.

Find out more about climate change 

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The climate march took place ahead of the Paris COP where world leaders met to discuss climate change

Throughout the march we saw people from different charities marching on behalf of different reasons (some were even dressed as polar bears or bumble bees!) but despite the many reasons for people being there, it felt amazing to be united with so many people, marching for one outcome – to stop climate change. I got to talk to many people from CAFOD and other charities over the course of the march and talk about my faith and the amazing things we can do to help raise awareness of climate change and how it’s affecting communities across the world.

At the end of the day, we were all very tired from walking, but left the walk feeling very happy and fulfilled knowing that we had helped raise awareness to people that climate change is a problem and needs to be stopped.

Join our campaign, One Climate, One World to protect our common home. 

My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough

Rosemary has supported CAFOD for over 30 years – buying World Gifts, taking part in LiveSimply, praying for our partners around the world, and even running the London Marathon. Rosemary tells us why giving is important to her and what her plans are for Harvest Fast Day.

Justice in my family

Rosemary after running the London Marathon for CAFOD in 2015
Rosemary after running the London Marathon for CAFOD in 2015

When my husband and I first moved to Norwich, about 34 years ago, our finances were quite tricky. We prayed and decided we would put God first. We decided to tithe our income and give 10 per cent back to the Lord for his Kingdom work. A big proportion of our funds went to CAFOD. We wanted our tithing to go towards justice and peace work because we believe there has to be justice before there can be peace. How can people live peacefully in their hearts when others are struggling? As Pope Paul said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Download Fast Day resources to help you organise a Fast Day collection in your parish.

I brought my children up to think about justice within the family and being fair. We don’t take things from each other without asking because we’re depriving that person of a chance to be generous. If you’re asked, the kind thing is to say: “Yes, you may borrow it.” But you have to ask first, otherwise you’re taking from that person and presuming they’ll be generous. Then they can have the blessing from making a good choice. Continue reading “My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough”

Pupils speak up against climate change

Children from St. Mary’s Primary School in Swanage have been speaking up against climate change as part of CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign.

The pupils wrote excellent speeches about why they want to see action taken to tackle climate change and delivered them in front of an audience which included Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset.

Take a look at some of the children’s excellent speeches:

Richard Drax MP heard the children's climate change speeches
Richard Drax MP heard the children’s climate change speeches

“It is we children who will have to deal with the effects of climate change when we are older. This is the terrible gift that previous generations have left us for our future.”

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Join Pope Francis and speak up against climate change

“To help we can ask God to help us. We could try to become a fair trade school.  This matters because Fair Trade goods pay for village funds, and so they have resources to plan for extreme weather

We can fundraise so CAFOD can help people who have no resilience for this kind of problem.

We can be more careful with our heating, the way we use paper and the way we waste food.

I am helping by joining the One Climate One World Campaign. I am doing this by reading this speech to you.

Continue reading “Pupils speak up against climate change”

National Volunteer Week: Toni gets creative in school

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we’re celebrating the amazing and varied work of our CAFOD volunteers. Schools volunteer Toni Woodhead shares her experience of visiting schools, getting creative and inspiring children to take action for CAFOD.

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Toni (right) speaking to new school volunteers during their training.

Being a school volunteer has been rewarding and enlightening, even with the preparation time and the first scary moments in front of the children. I have even found a creative side to myself and it is amazing how much it is developing!

The resources from CAFOD are always great and usually contains all the information about what is needed. At first this was all I used but as confidence grows, so do the ideas. From the first dirty water container and the wonderfully wrapped clean water, to the straw animal from Ikea that looked like a supergoat once a red cloak was added, I have started to look at every shape and size in a different way. I used glass spheres in a bucket for the weight instead of water. I bought child size garden tools for the “place at the table” and large sand toys for the “dig deep”. For the funny shaped food I got pictures from the internet and made them A4 size so the children could see them. They found them enjoyable.  I found an old box in the loft that I cleaned and stuck on the words “treasure”.

Find CAFOD resources for children and young people

Continue reading “National Volunteer Week: Toni gets creative in school”

Step into the Gap – preparing for Flame 2!

Leila, Chris and  Mary preparing to speak at Flame 2.
Leila, Chris and Mary preparing to speak at Flame 2.

Lucy, from CAFOD’s Youth Team, explains how Step into the Gap volunteers Mary, Chris and Leila are preparing for speaking on stage to 8000 young Catholics at Flame 2.

We’re so excited here in the youth team – we’ve been planning and preparing for Flame 2 since last September and can’t believe that it’s now less than two weeks away! Flame 2 is a national youth congress on March 7th, where 8,000 young people from England and Wales will gather at the SSE Arena, Wembley, to celebrate their faith. CAFOD is privileged to be a part of it.

Check out the Flame 2 trailer. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – preparing for Flame 2!”

CAFOD Young Leaders’ mid-year report

Young leaders from Portsmouth Diocese take part in our One Climate, One World campaign.
Young leaders from Portsmouth Diocese take part in our One Climate, One World campaign.

Halfway through the year, Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team looks back at the achievements of our Young Leaders so far.

CAFOD’s Young Leaders are sixth-form students from across the country who inspire other young people to support CAFOD and take action, from fundraising to raising awareness of the issues CAFOD campaigns on.

Cut it out this Lent! (PDF)

120 amazing sixth-form students from the Dioceses of Brentwood, Clifton, Hallam, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster are training as CAFOD young leaders. Alongside their A-Levels, they have committed to CAFOD training days and taking action on injustice in the UK and overseas. Continue reading “CAFOD Young Leaders’ mid-year report”