“Connect2: Brazil will continue in our hearts forever”

Zeza and Terezinha send you this message from Brazil:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StE3ArlzPso?rel=0]


“Connect2Brazil wishes you all a Merry Christmas! We are very happy with the Christmas cards we received from children and parishes England & Wales, and with the exchange of experiences. The children in Divinéia were really happy with your messages.” Zeza, Divinéia community leader and Connect2: Brazil narrator.

“Connect2Brazil will continue in our hearts forever. This exchange between local communities, this sharing and linking will be with us always. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for all in England and Wales, and especially for the children!” Terezinha, Connect2: Brazil, Divinéia community.









Left: Children in Divinéia with cards from the Connect2: Brazil parishes.

Right: Zeza and Terezinha with Christmas cards.

If your parish would like to join Connect2, you can sign up here.

Voices from the Philippines: Cleofas

Across the world, disasters disproportionately affect those who are already living in poverty. A changing climate is set to make this situation worse. Cleofas Friego lost her home and her means of making a living because of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda). She says:

“The typhoons we had before were not that strong compared to what we have now.

“Typhoon Yolanda affected us because it destroyed almost all our coconut trees, which is how we earned our income. It takes about six years for coconut trees to grow back. We used to harvest three times a year. Now we have difficulty finding sources of food for our children.

“CAFOD and Catholic Relief Services helped us to set up a new garden. We will plant vegetables, so we have food to eat. If I ever get to earn a living again, I will rebuild my house, send my children to school and send my disabled child for medical treatment.”

A new start?

Thanks to your donations to our Philippines Typhoon appeal, Cleofas is starting to make a living again. But the Philippines is repeatedly hit by typhoons, which could leave farmers like Cleofas having to start again from scratch.

CAFOD’s campaign, One Climate, One World, asks British political leaders to work with other countries to secure an ambitious international deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to support the transition from polluting fossil fuels to sustainable energy. Add your name to our climate petition today.

Getting Hands On in Kitui: the importance of trees

Do you have a New Year’s resolution to do more DIY? The people of Kitui do! Their project is about so much more than sprucing up their home – it will make a huge difference to their lives. And it’s possible because of you, and the 1,500 other people who have been getting hands on. Thank you.

We hope you have received your second postal update along with your copy of our Side by Side magazine. If you’ve misplaced your letter, or haven’t recieved it, you can download the January update now.

Please keep Kitui in your prayers as the hard work continues.

Progress and project highlights this month

Nicholas Oloo, CAFOD’s Programme Officer in Kenya is here to show us how the CAFOD Hands On project in Kitui will revitalise the landscape, and why trees are a crucial part of fixing the water supply.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSPu1twAxSM?rel=0&showinfo=0&w=640&h=360]

Continue reading “Getting Hands On in Kitui: the importance of trees”

Tobi gets her college campaigning!

Tobi training with other CAFOD young leaders
Tobi training with other CAFOD young leaders

Tobi is a CAFOD young leader and is passionate about getting others involved in campaigning against climate change.

One of the issues CAFOD campaigns about is climate change. Climate change is the biggest threat to reducing poverty, whether it’s floods destroying livelihoods, or unpredictable rains leaving millions hungry.

So how can we stop this? #Fortheloveof is a campaign by The Climate Coalition, and CAFOD is working together with them, to celebrate the things we love and to also call on politicians to tackle climate change. Continue reading “Tobi gets her college campaigning!”

Sri Lanka elections: peace and reconciliation

Pope in Sri LankaAs Pope Francis calls for reconciliation in Sri Lanka, Joe William from CAFOD partner Centre for Communications Training reflects on last week’s Presidential election.

Please pray for peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka

After the end of the war in 2009, a rainbow coalition of political parties now provides the best option for sustainable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

The contest for the island’s eighth Presidential Election began in November when incumbent Rajapaksa called snap polls, two years ahead of schedule. With no serious contender at that time, he was eyeing an unprecedented third term in office, least expecting his own Cabinet Minister Maithripala Sirisena to defect and emerge as a common candidate who would win the support of an eclectic joint opposition platform.

Mr. Sirisena’s departure not only prompted some of his colleagues to move with him, but also caused quite a flutter in the ruling camp. The subsequent turn of events — importantly, Tamil and Muslim parties pledging support to Mr. Sirisena — led to what was one of the most closely fought presidential elections in Sri Lanka’s history. Continue reading “Sri Lanka elections: peace and reconciliation”

Nicaragua: For the love of God, let’s care for the environment

In a month’s time, we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day and, as part of the Climate Coalition, we’ll be asking you to #showthelove and let everyone know why acting on climate change is a crucial part of loving our neighbours.

Show the love – tell your MP why you care about action to protect the environment and tackle climate change

Twenty-six-year-old teacher, Lazaro Salvador Gutierrez Gonzalez, lives in a village in the municipality of Jinotega in the dry corridor of Nicaragua, an area prone to irregular rainfall and drought. Here he reflects on how the love of God motivates him to care for his environment.

Lazaro Salvador Gutierrez Gonzalez
Lazaro Salvador Gutierrez Gonzalez

This was a very poor community, difficult to get to, and very few organisations came here. But CAFOD partner Caritas Jinotega came. I can say truly it is an organisation that is concerned for its neighbour, that seeks out love and God sent it here to share this love for its neighbour.

The climate is difficult here because it is hot, so when Caritas brought trees to plant it was a moment of joy for me. I said to myself, I am going to make a change here, I am going to see this area reforested.

This is my dream

So we started to plant the trees, always with the hope that they will grow big, and that we will have cleaner air, a fresher climate. Worm composting gives us organic compost to help the plants to grow and the children that I teach learn to look after the plants, and have the hope of seeing new plants and fruit. This is my dream: to bring nature to the school.

Continue reading “Nicaragua: For the love of God, let’s care for the environment”

Seven (and a half) reasons 2015 is the year for action on climate change

Sophie Dodgeon, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD.
Sophie Dodgeon, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD.

CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns, Sophie Dodgeon, gives us the lowdown on what to watch out for in the year ahead – and explains why 2015 is such a crucial year for action on climate change.

Sign our climate petition to party leaders

1. It’s a year to say goodbye. In 2015, we reach the end of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Millennium Development Goals. Both are UN processes which set targets for governments to meet.

The Kyoto Protocol covered carbon emissions, and the Millennium Development Goals gave a global framework to measure progress on ending poverty – from improving access to education to reducing the number of women dying in childbirth.

 2. It’s a year to make a new start. The end of past agreements means the pressure is on this year to set new goals and agreements to spur us on into the future.

In September, all eyes will be on New York, where there will be a major UN summit to agree a set of new Sustainable Development Goals. How far climate change is recognised in the new goals is still being negotiated. CAFOD is already involved, getting our overseas partners’ concerns heard at the highest level.

Next is Paris. By the end of 2015, all countries need to agree how they will cut carbon emissions and what collective action they will take to respond to the impact of changes in the climate (for instance, what funding they will provide to enable developing countries to cope with adapting to change).

Each country will make a pledge saying what they will do about climate change. The UK will pledge as part of the European Union.

Discussions have already started; some of the main pledges are expected to be agreed by March. The global deal itself needs to be thrashed out at a fortnight-long meeting called the COP 21 (Conference of the Parties) in Paris in December 2015.

For the sake of the communities that we work with, the deal needs to be ambitious, binding and fair to the poorest people.

Take action today and email party leaders telling them why you care about climate change.

Continue reading “Seven (and a half) reasons 2015 is the year for action on climate change”

Gaza crisis: six months on

Tuw Feq El Qarraa: "The support has helped me to go back to how it was before the war."
Tuw Feq El Qarraa: “The support has helped me to go back to how it was before the war.”

Six months since the beginning of the 2014 conflict in Gaza, Claire Grant from CAFOD’s Humanitarian team reflects on the difference made by donations from Catholics in England and Wales.

Help us respond to emergencies as soon as they happen>>

Everyone in Gaza has a story. A story of longstanding hardship, of uncertainty, of loss and of hard-earned survival.

The 50 days of conflict last summer – which gave rise to Israeli bombardments, Palestinian rocket attacks and ground fighting – took their toll, killing more than 2,200 people, destroying over 20,000 homes and countless livelihoods. More than 2,000 of these people were Palestinian civilians, including 519 children.

In December, the media pictures of the destruction became real to me as I travelled to Gaza to meet families and communities supported by CAFOD, who each had their own personal stories to tell.

Building back

The Gaza Strip is merely 25 miles in length and seven miles wide. A short drive is therefore all that it takes to get an accurate picture of the devastation that shook the region to its core this summer.

My first meeting was with a young father, Mohammed Abu Anzah, who had been forced to flee his land with his family when his house was destroyed during aerial bombardments. He has now returned to his land, and I found him hard at work with a team of local labourers who had been funded by CAFOD to rehabilitate the area.

Standing beside his two little daughters, who were playing amongst the debris and building material, Mohammed told me how grateful he was that he can now plant olive trees, beans and chickpeas, which he will sell at the market. He is also building back his house. Continue reading “Gaza crisis: six months on”