Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, has set himself a Lent challenge to run 5km at least once a week to a local water source. He reflects on how his challenge has helped him think about those who need to take hours out of their day simply to collect the water they need to survive.
I rise early. I climb reluctantly from my warm bed and dress quietly in the dark, not wanting to wake my family. I stretch a few times then step out of the house into the cold morning. With only the faint glow of the streetlights to show me the way, I begin to run.
It is Lent and I have a new challenge. Before completing my usual morning routine and going to work, I have to find time at least once a week to go to the local river.
Elsewhere a young girl rises early. She too climbs reluctantly from her bed, dresses quickly and efficiently and leaves the family home. She lifts up the large water containers and begins to walk.
She too has a new challenge. She is now deemed old enough to take on certain responsibilities. So, instead of completing her usual morning routine of getting ready for school, she is going to the local river to collect water.
Despite the parallel storylines there are worlds of difference between the trips.
CAFOD writer, Mark Chamberlain recently travelled to Uganda. This Mothering Sunday, he writes on some of the women he met and how they reminded him of his own family.
There was a point when I stood sheltering from those first welcome rains that everything seemed still. It was so strange. Teko Anna’s children running through that heavy roar – Daphne, her nine-year-old over there under the roof of her uncle’s house, jumping in the quickly forming puddles. The younger ones watching Daphne, following her, copying her actions with awkward limbs, splashing though the same puddles.
Proscovia now through the lines of water running with a box of ducklings, bringing them in from the rain.
Rachel McCarthy works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. She reflects on the struggles of our sisters and brothers living in poverty, and how our prayers can make a real difference.
Today is Women’s World Day of Prayer. I reflect on the experiences of the many women and girls around the world who struggle without access to water, like Nangiro Nadiim from Uganda.
Nadiim has seen how devastating the effects of drought can be. In the dry and dusty region of Karamoja, the lack of water affects families, animals and crops- but it is often women who suffer the most.
Nadiim says, “Life today is even worse than before. Before, we had lots of crops and cows, but now there is no rain. Our cows have starved because there is no grass. I don’t know if our children will survive.”
It’s hard to imagine what Nadiim is going through; to be forced into fear for your children’s future. I’m not sure I could bear it.
But our faith compels us not to turn away. Pope Francis encourages us to “open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity… let us recognise that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!” Misericordiae Vultus #15
Ffion works in our digital team. This Lent she’s challenging herself to live on just 10 litres of water a day for a week to raise awareness of the CAFOD Lent Appeal.
When I first heard that people like Proscovia, a young girl from rural Uganda, sometimes live on 10 litres of water a day I thought, “that’s not too bad”. I’ve heard we humans are supposed to drink about two litres of liquid a day to stay healthy, so that’s a whole eight litres to clean your teeth and wash yourself. And wash your dishes and do your laundry. Oh, and then there’s flushing the toilet as well which, I’ve since discovered, uses at least four litres of water!
Far from thinking that 10 litres of water is sufficient, I’m now quite worried about my Lent challenge. I’ve done some research, which taught me that 10 litres is less than 10% of what we normally use per person per day in the UK. Washing things – yourself, clothes and laundry – seems to be where we use (or waste) the most amount of water so that’s what I think will be most difficult.
Rachel McCarthy works in the Theology Programme at CAFOD. She reflects on the Gospel story of the transfiguration and how our global neighbours living in poverty are transforming their lives.
“As Jesus was praying, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became sparkling white” (Luke 9:29).
This Sunday, we will hear again the amazing story of Jesus’ transfiguration, when the Lord appears transformed by radiant light on the mountain before his disciples. It may be a story you are very familiar with, but it is worth reflecting on this divine transformation today.
Father Paul Ngole works for our partner Caritas Moroto in Uganda. He reflects on how Jesus leads the disciples up the mountain to a place of peace, prayer and serenity. In the same way, the Lord intends us all to experience the love and joy of God.
The theme of transformation is, of course, central to our Lenten practice. As we journey through these 40 days and nights, renewing our baptismal promises and deepening our faith, we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Easter, when the Risen Christ will set us free. Continue reading “Lent 2016: Transforming lives”
CAFOD gap year volunteer Danielle Storey has written about how climate change is impacting upon water supplies in Zimbabwe. Our 2016 Lent Appeal is focused on providing people with access to water.
The climate is changing. We can all easily fall into the habit of ignoring it, thinking it doesn’t affect me or it’s not that bad, my actions are only small so I can’t do anything about it. That’s what I thought too before I began my gap year with CAFOD. However countries all over the world, especially in recent years, are beginning to feel the effects of extreme weather events, including the UK with the recent devastating floods. We need to acknowledge that climate change is real and affecting people now.
Zimbabwe, along with other sub-Saharan African countries, is experiencing a severe drought. A priest we met while visiting CAFOD partner Mashambanzou told us that this is by far the worst he’s ever seen in the 30 years he’s been here. It’s been evident since we arrived here in Zimbabwe when we saw how dry and small the maize and other crops were for this time of year – there hadn’t been any rain for six weeks and it’s supposed to be the rainy season. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The effects of climate change on water”
Fiona has written from her Step into the Gap visit to Peru about how she is seeing the corporal acts of mercy in action in CAFOD’s work:
During this Year of Mercy, we are called to act upon the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. And so, while in Peru, I’ve been reflecting on the corporal acts in particular. It seems that they don’t need to be taken literally, as I’d first thought. I thought I’d take this time to focus on CAFOD partner CEAS who we’ve had the privilege of spending time with during this trip. They are the organisation for social action set up by the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.
Of all the corporal acts of mercy, I find that ‘welcoming the stranger’ is a particularly challenging one. It’s God’s call for us to put the faith and trust we have in Him into a complete stranger’s hands. It can be difficult to open our hearts—let alone our homes—to people that we know nothing about. Still, families have been doing just that—and more!—for us gap year volunteers here in Peru. The relationship built between CAFOD partners such as CEAS and the local community has enabled this faith and trust to exist.
Bea Findley, one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers, has written about how water shortages are affecting communities 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”
Work continues at great pace as we hurry to get the Musosya dam ready for the coming rains. One fantastic piece of news is that our reservoir is now holding water, which had been in the ground following the previous rains. This means that even during dry periods the community here is able to access clean water for their households – a wonderful achievement.
We would also be delighted to take this time to wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas. Please do keep Kitui in your thoughts at this joyous time, we have made so much progress thanks to your kindness.
Gabions are wire cages filled with rocks, which sit across tributaries to the reservoir. When it rains, they will reduce the speed of the streams and will trap silt, stopping it running into the reservoir itself.
Hannah Patterson is CAFOD’s World Gifts Co-ordinator
I have to confess that I started planning for Christmas in July. Not because I’m super-organised, or because I was hoping to bag some bargains, but because that’s when we started to create the World Gifts Christmas catalogue.
We start work on the World Gifts catalogue early because we want to present a really fantastic list of gifts for our supporters to choose from. At any time of year, researching examples of the impact of CAFOD’s work is inspiring, although it was more of a challenge to choose between snowflakes and stars in the summer!
A gift that stands out for me this year is Motivating music. Costing £20 for an instrument and lessons, the certificate that comes with this gift tells Marcos’ story. Marcos, 14, from Brazil, had to take on the responsibility of caring for his father while he was unwell, and then suffered feelings of guilt when his Dad passed away. Learning to play the cello has given him an outlet for his feelings and boosted his self-esteem. Marcos now wishes to become a professional musician.
Motivating music is already on my gift list for my brother because he loves music. In fact, many of my loved ones will be receiving a certificate from me on Christmas morning! I think that at this time of year, when it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of present-buying, food-planning and Christmas-jumper-wearing, World Gifts are a simple way to choose something more meaningful. Like many of you, I’ll also be showing my family and friends I love them this Christmas by making a special effort to spend time with them and I’ll be helping to bring other families together by buying the Water for a family gift for my Mum and Dad.
Hadas Hailu’s family in Ethiopia used to suffer a lot due to a shortage of clean water. Not only did they have to spend time fetching water from a pump far away, but the water wasn’t clean and caused diseases. Thanks to World Gift donations, CAFOD’s local partner were able to construct a borehole in their remote village. Now the whole family has clean, safe water to drink, and instead of fetching water they now have more time to spend together.
Having clean water to drink seems like such a basic need that it’s hard to imagine not trusting your water supply won’t make your family sick, or spending time away from them collecting heavy containers. The water gifts that are available through World Gifts are a great way to make a practical difference for families.
Perhaps I’m biased, but I think we have a wonderful range of World Gifts this year. Gifts like Water for a family are examples of the practical work that CAFOD’s partners carry out daily. Presents such as Motivating music bring hope to those living in poverty mean you can share this hope and joy with your own loved ones. I hope you enjoy reading through your catalogue or browsing our website as much as I’ve enjoyed putting together the World Gifts range.