How to give better gifts this Christmas

Jack works for CAFOD. He has occasionally received Christmas gifts he didn’t like, but not from you, he loved yours. Here he mulls on the simple switch he (and his relatives) can make, so that Christmas is happier for everyone.

Making a Christmas list

Power rangers toys
Great fun for the 15 minutes they last before your dad steps on them.

Presents make a lot more sense when you’re a kid.

You’ve got no income, except maybe 50p here or there if your parents have deep pockets, or deeper sofa cushions. But you’re surrounded with stuff to want. The cartoons you watch, the comics you read – most of them are little more than adverts for a corresponding range of fluorescent plastic junk. So once a year you make a list and hope you get some of that junk for Christmas. And that’s fine. No-one minds. It’s cute. Because you’re a child.

Find the perfect charity gifts for all your relatives

Continue reading “How to give better gifts this Christmas”

The power of a Birth certificate – a World Gifts update

Rachel works for CAFOD. Here she reflects on how meeting Katy, a CAFOD Gapper, helped her to discover the power of a simple birth certificate, and inspired her to create a new, very special virtual gift for CAFOD’s World Gifts collection that will help babies and children around the world.

The importance of a birth certificate

A birth certificate. Every person needs one, it shows our citizenship, lets us get a passport – it tells the world who we are. And I think that here in the UK, we take this simple legal document for granted.

But for people living in poverty, perhaps in rural areas, where babies are born at home, it is often forgotten. And a child without a birth certificate faces problems.

In Zimbabwe, children without a birth certificate cannot go to school, take exams, apply for an ID card, vote, travel, nor access many other basic essential services.

You can buy a Birth certificate World Gift so that a child can go to school

I’ve worked in fundraising for years and am always eager to hear about how donations help. Katy, who recently travelled to Zimbabwe on a gap year trip with CAFOD, told me about the terrible and long-lasting impact of growing up without a birth certificate.

Katy said, “Children around the world continue to grow up without the basic human right of an identity.”

This startling comment gripped me.

Continue reading “The power of a Birth certificate – a World Gifts update”

Bringing childhoods back to life

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon.

Syrian refugee children at schoolSo I’m flying home early this morning after three eye-opening days in Lebanon – expertly guided by CAFOD and their partners on the ground Caritas Lebanon. As we wind slowly upwards away from Beirut, I’m thinking of all the children we met in the past few days.

Help a refugee child. This charity gift will give much-needed emotional and educational support to children who have fled the violent trauma of war. Continue reading “Bringing childhoods back to life”

Flushing poverty down the toilet

Today is World Toilet Day. Abigail McMillan, in CAFOD’s South West and Wales team reflects on how the humble toilet is an often overlooked life-saver.

Toilets are generally a private subject; my mum would say not to be discussed at the dinner table. But professionally, World Toilet Day makes perfect sense to me. The world can be changed by toilets, and the Church takes toilets very seriously.

Keep a community safe with the gift of a toilet

The UK government will match every pound you donate to CAFOD's Lent appeal up to £5m
The UK government matched your donations in Lent 2016

Following the tremendous response of Catholic parishioners in England and Wales to CAFOD’s Family Fast Day Appeal during Lent 2016, the UK Government doubled the nearly £5m that was donated by the general public. With this, we were able to instigate a water, sanitation and hygiene programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Continue reading “Flushing poverty down the toilet”

“I want to be an engineer so that I can rebuild Syria”

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

Thursday morning and we’re up before dawn to take the winding road to Qartaba, nestling in Mount Lebanon.

A beautiful morning in Qartaba.
A beautiful morning in Qartaba.

It’s a beautiful clear day as the sun comes up and we arrive at the home of a family of six refugees from Syria.

They’re living in a couple of rooms in a house which is still being built – but there’s a stove burning and the four children are happily pouring tea and having breakfast.

And even better – Hussein, 11, Mostafa, 10 and Amar who’s 6 are just about to put on their school uniforms.

Help a refugee child. This charity gift will give much-needed emotional and educational support to children who have fled the violent trauma of war.

Continue reading ““I want to be an engineer so that I can rebuild Syria””

Future? What do you mean by future?

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

It is Wednesday afternoon and we’re sitting on the floor of a shack covered in tarpaulin with eight year old Karim, where he’s been living with his family since fleeing Syria.

Karim picking potatoes.
Karim picking potatoes.

He was up at 6am this morning picking potatoes in the neighbouring field to bring in a few dollars a week for his family. He is a strikingly handsome young boy – bright eyed and smart – and he’s sick of having to work.

Help a refugee child Continue reading “Future? What do you mean by future?”

10 simple, kind ideas on the International Day of Kindness

When were you last kind to someone? Did you make a loved one breakfast this morning or give your colleague a cheery greeting when you arrived at work?

Therese, who works in our fundraising team at CAFOD has been reflecting on kindness and how to spread more of it through out the world.

“On the international day of kindness, here are 10 simple ideas for you to carry out, to put some more kindness back into the world:

CAFOD World Gifts are kindness in action

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The Child Breadwinners of Bekaa

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

The brothers working at the bakery.
The brothers working at the bakery.

In a side road in a small town in the Bekaa Valley Yazan and Majed are hard at work. They are brothers aged 10 and 11. Their day started in darkness, getting up at 4am they were a bit scared to be going out before dawn, to get to their jobs in a local bakery.

The tiny bakery turns out flatbreads for local restaurants. The boys work alongside two grown men. The adults receive $40 (£30) a day. The boys get $3 (£2.30) a day between them. But these meagre earnings are vital for their family to survive after fleeing the war in Syria.

Donate to CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Appeal. Continue reading “The Child Breadwinners of Bekaa”

Gospel Reflection: What can we offer to others?

This reflection and prayer were written by Joy Wanless from Our Lady of Grace parish, Manchester.

Based on the gospel for Sunday 11 November – Mark 12:38-44

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“But she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.”

It’s easy to judge by our own standards, to sometimes forget that all good gifts come from God. Some have gifts to offer to foodbanks. Some are dependent on food banks for the basics to feed their families. There are those who are permanently hungry who Jesus watches just as closely.

Margaret in Batiama, Sierra Leone, experiences the “hungry season”, while they wait for the harvest.

Margaret was struggling, but her life was changed with a small loan from CAFOD which enabled her to buy supplies and set up a shop in her home.

She received training on how to make her business a success. Margaret now earns enough to support her children. She can pass on the gift of the loan and another family’s lives have been changed.

Change a life with the gift of a small loan

She says, “I want to thank CAFOD for appreciating women – especially widowed women fending for themselves.”

What loan can we offer to others?  Prayer, friendship, time, money, comforts? What do we have to put in the offering?

What can we give which, like the widow’s mite, isn’t just in excess of our needs but is a genuine gift from the heart?

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Prayer

Dear Lord, we thank you for your abundant provisions for our lives. We thank you that you show us the way. You don’t judge. You love.  Let’s put our wealth, a gift from you, in the offering and share your love. Amen.

All I want for Christmas…is bees

Victoria Ahmed works in CAFOD’s education team.

Socks, check. Dad’s book, check. Queen bee, check.

Like many people, I’ve been rushing about this week in a mild panic. When’s the last date for online delivery orders? Have I missed the last post?  I’ve been scribbling away on my little present checklist, making sure I’ve remembered everything. The Happy queen bee World Gift is probably my favourite on the list to buy this year, and both my five year old God- daughter and my 89 year old Nan will be proud owners of one come Christmas morning.

Continue reading “All I want for Christmas…is bees”