Step into the Gap – Our week at Mashambanzou

CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe have been learning about our work supporting people with HIV and AIDS:

CAFOD's gap year volunteers saw the work our partner Mashambanzou does for those living with HIV and AIDS
CAFOD’s gap year volunteers saw the work our partner Mashambanzou does for those living with HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDS is something we’re all aware of and have heard about, but until we were immersed in the reality of Zimbabwe, we could not truly appreciate the impact it has on the individuals affected, their livelihoods, families and communities. However, within a situation which can sometimes seem hopeless and desperate, we have been truly inspired by the work of the Mashambanzou Care Trust.

Find out more about CAFOD’s HIV and AIDS work

Mashambanzou is a CAFOD partner which ultimately aims to see HIV-free communities through empowerment, care and support. They work mainly in poor, overcrowded areas of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Over the past week we have witnessed many incredible projects, such as a children’s day care centre, child protection clubs in schools, and home visits to people living with HIV. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Our week at Mashambanzou”

“Don’t use your hairdryers!” ‒ Our young climate bloggers’ training weekend

St James young climate bloggers
St James young climate bloggers

Young climate bloggers from St James’ Catholic High School tell the story of their CAFOD training weekend ‒ the fun, the challenges and the inspiration.

“Don’t use your hairdryers …” was one of the first pieces of advice we were given on arrival at the Othona Community in Bradwell on Sea “Hairdryers use more electricity than all the ovens, lights, fridges and freezers in our community joined together. If you use a hairdryer it could overload the system.” As the Orthona Community was off the main grid, frizzy hair it was to be.  This was the first of many lessons learnt whilst experiencing sustainable living. The hard work and fun was about to begin.

Keep up with the CAFOD young climate bloggers during 2015.

Continue reading ““Don’t use your hairdryers!” ‒ Our young climate bloggers’ training weekend”

A people of hope

This blog is written by Rachel McCarthy who works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. It is the first of a series inviting you to share your joys and hopes, and to pray for people living in poverty at Lent

Rwanda- writing in a journal
Keep a hope journal this Lent

As we journey through Lent, take time to reflect on your joys, hopes, concerns and inspirations by keeping a hope journal. In a spirit of solidarity, we hold in our prayers the joys and hopes of our global family.

Follow our daily reflections with the CAFOD Lent calendar

2015 is the 50th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes. We are called to share the “joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties” of our global neighbours, especially those who are living in poverty.

Continue reading “A people of hope”

Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Bernadette: The joy of living is to serve

Bernadette is one of CAFOD‘s Step into the Gap volunteers. She’s currently working as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and is visiting CAFOD partners in Nicaragua.

Hola from Nicaragua. There is so much I want to share with you already and I think the easiest way is to give you an insight into the trip so far to give people a whole view of the experience. So here goes, when I said in my pre blog about looking forward to the opportunity to see the work that CAFOD is involved in I never realised how much I would experience so quickly.

Find out about Step into the Gap

Practising for CYMFED Flame 2
Practising for CYMFED Flame 2

On our first full day in Managua, the capital city, we headed out as a group to meet the Central America CAFOD team based here in Managua. This was an opportunity to find out about what the team here focuses on, not only in Nicaragua but throughout Central America. We spent time looking at various aspects such as the work around gender and HIV, livelihoods, human rights and weather.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Bernadette: The joy of living is to serve”

Cutting out chocolate for Lent: this year I have a plan

Lent fundraising 50p chocolate
Jo is cutting out chocolate and donating the money she saves to CAFOD.

Jo De Paula works in CAFOD’s schools fundraising team. Her work involves encouraging children to take part in Lent Fast Day, but here she tells us how she’s planning on personally making a difference this Lent. Lent is coming soon! Every year I plan to do many things for Lent that will bring me closer to God and challenge myself to be a better person. This year I have chosen to give up chocolate. So right now I have the overwhelming urge to eat as much sugar as I can before I give it up for 40 days. But so often after I share my #ashtag Ash Wednesday Selfie with the world, my good intentions never materialise. This year will be different. This year I have a plan:

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Kieron sees the power of solar

Kieron is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers. He’s currently working as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and is visiting CAFOD partners in Zimbabwe.

Kieron meeting communities in Zimbabwe
Kieron meeting communities in Zimbabwe

As the days continue to fly by in Zimbabwe and time is quickly slipping away, it’s time to share from my perspective what I have experienced so far. After spending nearly two weeks here in the landlocked country of Zimbabwe, there have been many moving encounters meeting with partners of CAFOD and communities.

Call on the UK government to support renewable energy and bring power to the poorest people

After spending a few days in the capital Harare, getting to know our surroundings and being greeted by the CAFOD staff, we began our journey to the north west of Zimbabwe, to an area named Binga. After a long journey, in the heat of a cloudless sky, we arrived safe and sound.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Kieron sees the power of solar”

Lent: a time for compassion

By Rachel McCarthy, Theology Programme Communications Coordinator

Kyin Nu, Myanmar - cyclones and extreme weather

The season of Lent is fast upon us. It is time to prepare for the traditional acts of giving, praying and fasting, as we journey with Jesus through 40 days and nights.

Lent is a season of reflection and renewal. A time of growing in faith and looking deeper at our lives to be re-centred on God and our neighbour. A time to deepen our prayer life and to grow in faith. A time of giving and sharing with our global family.

Use our Lenten calendar to guide you through the daily scriptures of Lent.

Fasting during Lent

And then there is fasting. We might give something up such as chocolate, and we make a special effort on Fridays to abstain from the goods we usually take for granted. A few times I have fasted for 24 hours during Lent. Last year for example, I fasted in solidarity with people in the UK who are living on the breadline and are forced every week to go to food banks to feed their families.

I have to admit, for me, fasting is never easy. Although food poverty is an issue close to my heart, I found it very difficult to stay focused during these 24 hours. I found myself being more tired and irritable with others around me. I was tempted to winge, to draw attention to myself, in the hope that others would feel sorry for me.

But this is precisely the temptation which we must avoid. In the long hours of our fasting, we must wrestle with our demons, and stay focused on God. In a very real sense, fasting is the act of emptying ourselves, so that we can turn away from all that separates us from loving God. It’s a time of trial, when we rekindle patience and hope for the resurrection. Continue reading “Lent: a time for compassion”

Step into the Gap Nicaragua – ASOMUPRO: How can one person make a difference in the world?

Chris is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers working for the Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. He’s currently in Nicaragua to see CAFOD’s work and has sent back this blog:

“How can one person make a difference in the world?” It is a hard question to answer.

At the start of our trip Vicky, one of our kind accompaniers, explained to us how ASOMUPRO – the association of women producers who we spent the week with – starts making a difference with the women they work with. They do this by giving women the opportunity to start believing in themselves. ASOMUPRO says that in the Nicaraguan machista society, once women start saying “I can” that is half the battle won. And it is surprising how much the phrase “I can” came up throughout our week with ASOMUPRO.

Here is one of the stories of those people affected by ASOMUPRO, this will hopefully give you an insight into their work, on a personal level.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – ASOMUPRO: How can one person make a difference in the world?”

CAFOD staff are cutting it out for Lent 2015

CAFOD staff Lent 2015
Mariacristina with her CAFOD colleagues who are cutting something out or doubling something in their lives this Lent.

Maricristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who are giving something up for Lent.

It is at times like Lent, when we stop to reflect on a number of things and get closer to God, that we often realise how blessed we are. Right now I feel blessed to be working with a group of committed and passionate people. With only two weeks to go until Ash Wednesday I know lots of people will be trying to decide what to cut out in order to create a change in their own lives or in the wider world.

Take a look at our Cut it Out resources for Lent fundraising

I’ve been talking to my colleagues about their preparations for Lent and have been impressed by how dedicated they are to make a difference to the lives of those who suffer and taking care of the gifts we have been given by God. Many people are focussing on using Lent to help people living in poverty to cope with the destruction that extreme weather and climate change can bring. Lots of people at CAFOD are making Lenten promises, and we all have our own little challenging and exciting cut it out activities to try and reduce our impact on the environment. Continue reading “CAFOD staff are cutting it out for Lent 2015”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Lizzie & Leila

Lizzie is working as a chaplain at Newman University and Leila is a volunteer at the Good Shepherd in Nelson, respectively. They are both visiting Zimbabwe as part of CAFOD‘s Step into the Gap programme.

We’ve spent the past week in the west of Zimbabwe, in a place called Binga. And what a week it’s been. We’ve visited so many great projects and met so many inspirational communities, it’s hard to know where to begin. So here are just a couple of highlights from our week.

18-30? Learn about CAFOD’s gap year with a difference

Lizzie says:

For me, Binga has been an extremely memorable and moving experience. In Siamtelele village, Moyo Mthatshelwa, a 49-year-old farmer, warmly welcomed us with a traditional lunch of sadza, goat’s intestines, spinach, groundnut maize, sour milk and crumbled bread, all produced off their farm. I was touched by the generosity of his family. Moyo explained that “CAFOD’s scheme is very nice to us farmers. You’ve assisted us well. We thank you very much. It will improve ourselves and will pay for school for my thirteen children and help develop our future”.

Moyo and other farmers have been helped by CAFOD
Moyo and other farmers have been helped by CAFOD

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Lizzie & Leila”