Feel good about giving this Christmas with World Gifts

Feeling all shopped out

In the wake of Black Friday madness gripping the UK for the last week, I reflect back to years gone by, with footage of people queuing for hours, or fighting to get the last bargain. How those people feeling now? I wonder if they are planning to replace last year’s new purchase with this year’s newer model, or whether they feel genuinely fulfilled by their choices.

Seeing these scenes has made me question my own purchases this Christmas. When I go out seeking to buy something for my family or friends, I try to question whether I am buying them a gift that they need. Will what I am giving them enrich their lives, or am I giving just for the sake of giving?

My inspiration

I have been working for CAFOD for almost two years now. On a daily basis, I witness dedication, passion and acts of solidarity from our volunteers around England and Wales. I am also privileged to hear the stories of colleagues and partners who work overseas on how our prayers and donations help local communities and transform lives for the better.

Seeing and hearing these stories inspires me, making me feel that living simply could be a better way to live. I know that if I make small changes in my life, it could enable someone else to live a fuller life.

At Liz Dene’s parish, Our Lady and Saints of Guernsey, their actions throughout Advent last year did just that.

After seeing the impact a single goat had had on a community during a trip to Uganda, Liz was inspired to help. She knew that CAFOD’s World Gifts, a range of ethical virtual gifts which transform lives overseas, could help. She decided to launch a project within her parish to fundraise.

Goat that gives
The Goat that gives is a Christmas favourite. No surprise there. Just look at the little face.

The gift Liz chose was the Goat that Gives. It costs just £28 but provides a family with milk to drink or sell and fertiliser to help grow their crops.

The group held a coffee morning in their parish after Mass, expecting to fund around 30 goats. But the project took off, and in the end Our Lady and Saints of Guernsey bought over 100 goats, raising more than £3,000 and changing the lives of so many. They even symbolised each goat they bought by sticking a plastic figurine of a goat to a sandwich board, which was painted green. Liz said: “It worked because people were happy to give £28. And if they weren’t, we joked with them: ‘You can buy the hind quarters and someone else will buy the front!’”

More than just goats

The gift of play can change the lives of children living in violent, impoverished communities
The gift of play gives children the chance to be creative, play and make friends.

This is just one example of CAFOD supporters changing lives through World Gifts. Schoolchildren from around England and Wales have fundraised to buy virtual villages, picking the things they think the village would most need: water, medical outreach teams and animals to name a few. Individuals have passed on the Gift of Play to some of the world’s poorest children.

World Gifts are a thoughtful and ethical present, and the benefits don’t end once you’ve unwrapped it. After you buy a World Gift, you will receive a beautiful card which explains how the gift will make a lasting difference.

Help a llama farmer to keep his llama happy and well fed all year
Help a llama farmer – Victor loves his llama!

I’ve already kickstarted my Christmas shopping with the chance for my sister to help a farmer grow enough food to feed a llama all year round with the Help a llama farmer gift. Llamas are three gifts in one – providing farming families with wool for clothing, manure for boosting crops and an important safety net in times of need! I know there will be smiles on Christmas day.

To add to the smiles, I’m now deciding who will be the happy recipient of my next World Gift, although it’s a very tough decision between Chirpy Chickens, Fantastic Fish and Wonderful Worms.

 

Either way, it’s a happy alternative to the same old socks, toiletries and chocolates that we are so used to giving and receiving during the festive period.Fantastic fish gift from World Gifts

If we all challenged ourselves to live a little more simply and think a little more about the gifts we buy this Christmas, we could make a big difference. We can all take inspiration from Oscar Romero, who said: “Aspire not to have more, but to be more.”

Buy a CAFOD World Gift for your loved ones this Christmas at cafod.org.uk/worldgifts

By Rosie Heaton, CAFOD’s Regional News Officer

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”

Giving a charity goat this Christmas? All you’ve ever wanted to know about CAFOD World Gifts

With just over a month until Christmas, Sally Kitchener in our communications team answers some of your questions about World Gifts – CAFOD’s virtual charity gifts.

With many of my friends and family searching for practical, ethical and meaningful presents this Christmas, I’ve found myself talking a lot about CAFOD’s World Gifts. And it turns out that Christmas charity gifts, especially virtual goat gifts, bring up some rather tricky questions.

Browse CAFOD’s World Gifts

So, I’ve been finding out the answers to your top three goat gifting queries.

1. Will I find a goat on my doorstep?

When you buy a World Gift, whether it’s a goat, mosquito net, or drought-resistant seeds, the gift isn’t sent to you, but to poor communities and families in developing countries. So if you’re buying the gift on behalf of a friend, don’t worry, they won’t end up with a goat on their doorstep one morning. Instead you can send them a card that explains which gift has been bought in their name. Continue reading “Giving a charity goat this Christmas? All you’ve ever wanted to know about CAFOD World Gifts”

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 Mount Lebanon.

A beautiful morning in Qartaba.
A beautiful morning in Mount Lebanon.

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

Continue reading “10 simple, kind ideas on the International Day of Kindness”

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

Sign up to receive weekly reflections straight to your inbox

“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?

Sign up to receive weekly reflections straight to your inbox

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.

Exploring the refugee crisis with young people

The team of Step into the Gap volunteers have been running sessions, retreats and activities with young people this term on refugees. We asked Kezia and Juliette to tell us a bit about their favourite resources.

Kezia

CAFOD gap year volunteers 2018/2019
Kezia

Placing yourself in a refugee’s position is so difficult. Over the past month I’ve been trying to help young people experience what it’s like to leave your home, to feel the emotions and make decisions that some refugees have to make.

Find refugee resources for young people

Continue reading “Exploring the refugee crisis with young people”