Building a future after Myanmar’s biggest natural disaster

By Mark Chamberlain, Communications Officer

Martin - emergency drill - Myanmar - DRR CAFOD (2)
Martin, Myanmar

Martin was six when his small bamboo home in Myanmar’s southwestern jungle was blown away by a terrifying 145mph tropical storm.

I ask him what he remembers most from that night and the small, talkative boy is quiet for a few seconds, then smiles nervously: “I couldn’t hear other people calling out or crying, I could just hear the screaming voice of the wind.”

In minutes, houses where generations of people had lived were snatched from the ground and splintered across the land. Essentials like food, money and clothes were thrown into the nearby river and for miles across the land. Countless people were killed. In one village down the river, one out of every two were taken by the wind.

“It was dark and the wind was all around,” Martin says of that Friday in 2008. “My dad picked me up from our home and ran and ran. We didn’t know where to go or where to hide, but we went to the school.”

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Myanmar – the country formerly known as ‘Burma’ – faces small, localised cyclones every year. But nothing on the scale of Cyclone Nargis. Martin’s family, like many others in the village, ran in that May darkness, but they didn’t know where to or what to do when they arrived at their destination. Rebecca Murphy, CAFOD’s disaster risk reduction expert says: “This is the key moment when the initial effects of a disaster can be managed. So many lives can be saved just by ensuring a community has access to an early warning system, knows where to go and what to do when a cyclone hits.” Continue reading “Building a future after Myanmar’s biggest natural disaster”

Lent 2015: Why I’m doubling my baking

Cupcakes to raise money for CAFOD's Lent Appeal
Strawverry cupcakes to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

Laura works in CAFOD’s communications team in London. She tells us why she has decided to do double the baking this Lent to fundraise for CAFOD

I’ve always loved baking. But I’ve been doing a lot more since I became a mum. That’s why I’ve decided to double my baking this Lent to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal.

Since I had my son Alfie, who is now two years old, I’m at home in the evenings more anyway and I find baking a great way to relax and unwind after a busy day. Not to mention the treat of a home-baked cake that you get to share with your family at the end. And I like the thought of Alfie having a treat where I know exactly what’s gone into it, with no nasties.

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There’s something so calming about baking that I don’t find with other cooking. Maybe it’s the precise measurements and instructions that give me a sense of control in a chaotic world. Or that every time you take a freshly-baked cake out of the oven, you can’t help thinking that a little bit of magic’s happened. The sloppy mess that went into the tin transforms into a spongy, golden, morsel that smells deliciously of warm, sugary sweetness.

Fundraise in your parish or school with our Fast Day resources

Continue reading “Lent 2015: Why I’m doubling my baking”

Visiting the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero

In early February, Clare Dixon, Ben White and Kathleen O’Brien travelled to San Salvador. Here’s a glimpse of their visit to Romero’s tomb on the day it was announced that the Vatican had declared this ex-CAFOD partner a martyr.

Clare and Ben at the tomb
Clare and Ben at the tomb
Around midday, we drive down to the Cathedral, which lies on the Avenida Monseñor Oscar Romero. Street names matter in San Salvador. At the moment there is a fierce argument raging between the current Mayor, Norman Quijano, who wishes to change the name of the road ‘San Antonio Abad’ to ‘Robert D’Abuisson’ after the man who ordered Romero’s death and founded the ARENA political party. We drive along this road and see graffiti saying “Ni calles ni caminos con nombres de asesinos” (Neither streets nor roads with names of assassins).

About the author: In early February, Clare Dixon, Ben White and Kathleen O’Brien travelled to San Salvador. Here’s a glimpse of their visit to Romero’s tomb on the day it was announced that the Vatican had declared this ex-CAFOD partner a martyr.

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Continue reading “Visiting the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero”

Step into the Gap – preparing for Flame 2!

Leila, Chris and  Mary preparing to speak at Flame 2.
Leila, Chris and Mary preparing to speak at Flame 2.

Lucy, from CAFOD’s Youth Team, explains how Step into the Gap volunteers Mary, Chris and Leila are preparing for speaking on stage to 8000 young Catholics at Flame 2.

We’re so excited here in the youth team – we’ve been planning and preparing for Flame 2 since last September and can’t believe that it’s now less than two weeks away! Flame 2 is a national youth congress on March 7th, where 8,000 young people from England and Wales will gather at the SSE Arena, Wembley, to celebrate their faith. CAFOD is privileged to be a part of it.

Check out the Flame 2 trailer. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – preparing for Flame 2!”

CAFOD Young Leaders’ mid-year report

Young leaders from Portsmouth Diocese take part in our One Climate, One World campaign.
Young leaders from Portsmouth Diocese take part in our One Climate, One World campaign.

Halfway through the year, Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team looks back at the achievements of our Young Leaders so far.

CAFOD’s Young Leaders are sixth-form students from across the country who inspire other young people to support CAFOD and take action, from fundraising to raising awareness of the issues CAFOD campaigns on.

Cut it out this Lent! (PDF)

120 amazing sixth-form students from the Dioceses of Brentwood, Clifton, Hallam, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster are training as CAFOD young leaders. Alongside their A-Levels, they have committed to CAFOD training days and taking action on injustice in the UK and overseas. Continue reading “CAFOD Young Leaders’ mid-year report”

Hope Journal 2015: Fairtrade Fortnight

Ellie Wilcock head shot
Ellie

Ellie Wilcock is CAFOD’s PR officer. Today, her personal Lent journal focuses on Fairtrade Fortnight.

This Lent I’m keeping a hope journal, and over the coming weeks will be sharing a number of my entries on this blog. My journal – which closely follows CAFOD’s Lent Calendar – will be a place to record my joys, hopes, concerns and inspirations. A place to reflect on everything for which I am grateful, and the values by which I try to live my life.

A Fairtrade coffee farmer tends to her crops
A Fairtrade coffee farmer tends to her crops

Today marks the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight – an annual campaign organised by the Fairtrade Foundation to raise awareness of its work. Over the past 20 years, Fairtrade has become the best known ethical label in the UK, and the two week period from now until Monday 08 March is the perfect time to celebrate the successes of the Fairtrade movement. It’s a time to speak out for justice in solidarity with the communities living in extreme poverty, and reflect on changes we can make in our daily lives to help ensure that small-scale farmers and producers enjoy fair terms of trade.

Find out more about Fairtrade

Every Fairtrade product bought helps to transform the lives of more than 1.4 million people in 74 countries around the world – an astonishing figure. However, with over 50% of the UK public still not actively choosing to buy Fairtrade products – and only around 7% of tea sold in the UK Fairtrade-certified – there’s clearly still much to be done to spread the word. Continue reading “Hope Journal 2015: Fairtrade Fortnight”

Lent 2015: World Day of Social Justice

Liam Finn is CAFOD’s Regional Media Officer. His personal Lent journal today focuses on World Day of Social Justice.

Lent journal, Shouting for social justice
Shouting for social justice

“Why do you want this job?”

“I don’t really. I don’t want CAFOD to exist.”

That was how I started to answer the question from my boss in my CAFOD interview. It might seem a mad response to someone in the hope that they would offer me the job. But I meant it. CAFOD exists because social injustices exist. I really wanted my job, and – *spoiler alert* – I was offered it. Yet I would much rather live in a world where people don’t go hungry or lack access to clean water, where people don’t have to flee from wars or oppression, and where people have the same means as others in richer countries to withstand disasters and rebuild their lives afterwards. We at CAFOD work to achieve that world and make ourselves unnecessary in the future: we work for social justice.

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What is social justice?

CAFOD has a long history of campaigning for social justice
CAFOD has a long history of campaigning for social justice

Today is World Day of Social Justice. I’ve been using the day to consider what social justice means. I studied Law at university because I wanted to learn about what justice is, and how to bring it about in the world. I believe that basic justice is achieved when everyone has seven things: Continue reading “Lent 2015: World Day of Social Justice”

Lent 2015: How to prepare for a disaster

By Nick Harrop, World News Officer

“The wind was circulating fast and glass was flying everywhere,” says Flora Badanoy, 39. “The roof was blown off by the gale. It felt like there was an earthquake. We were terrified. Then the hwater started coming in, with a strong current. We opened the front door and more water came gushing in. I thought it was the end of our lives.”

The Guiuan peninsula in the Philippines was the very first place to be hit by Typhoon Haiyan, shortly after midnight on 8 November 2013. Winds of up to 170 mph struck the coast and huge waves swept in from the sea, flooding coastal villages like Flora’s.

Palo, Leyte Island, Philippines - devastation after Typhoon Haiyan
Devastation in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

“We were not expecting it to be a special typhoon,” says Flora. “The local officials told us we had to evacuate, but they didn’t say it would be so powerful. We were not warned that there would be floods. We’d heard there would be a ‘storm surge’, but we didn’t understand what the phrase meant. It wasn’t a phrase we used in our language.”

Help people like Flora whose lives are being affected by storms, droughts and floods.

Flora remembers the roar of the wind – so loud that she couldn’t hear herself shout – and the terror her children felt as water came flooding in under the door. Continue reading “Lent 2015: How to prepare for a disaster”

Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua

It’s the end of the visit of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers to Nicaragua. Here are the thoughts of Kate and Steph as they prepare to return to the UK:

Kate

Kate
Kate

We have seen and experienced Nicaragua in so many ways these past few weeks, and to put it into words is a daunting task.

My reasons for joining CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme at the beginning of the year were: I have been a long term supporter of CAFOD’s work, I have helped in fundraising, been a Young Leader helping out at events such as Flame and done work experience at Romero House. So it really seemed like a natural progression to spend a year out of education expanding my knowledge of CAFOD and learning more about their work in the developing world before heading off to university to study International Development. But over the past 6 months, this year has become less about myself and more about those around me. I am extremely fortunate to spend a year with nine of the most hardworking, dedicated and passionate people that I have ever met. They have truly changed my life in more ways than one and I have been lucky enough to go to Nicaragua with three of them. I can honestly say I have made friends for life. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Farewell

CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Zimbabwe have come to the end of their visit. Here are their thoughts as they head home:

We’ve reached the final day of an amazing trip, where we’ve been immersed in Zimbabwean culture, met so many inspirational people and have so much we can’t wait to share back with communities in England and Wales. As we prepare to catch our flight home, here are just some of our reflections.

Learn more about CAFOD’s gap year

Mary

Mary
Mary

Wow. Looking back through my journal of the past three and a bit weeks, we have been so privileged to meet so many amazing people and witness such a wide range of CAFOD supported projects. Although the projects have been varied, a reoccurring theme has been prevalent throughout – the overwhelmingly strong sense of “togetherness” and community here in Zimbabwe. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Farewell”