Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges

Ffion baking
Ffion starting her Lent baking challenge

Having passed the half way point in Lent 2015 earlier this week, our Web Editor Ffion Dean updates us on how she and other CAFOD staff are coping with their Lent challenges.

When I realised we were only half way through Lent my heart sank a little. It feels like ages since the beginning of Lent. Does that mean it will feel like a long time until Easter for me and my colleagues who have taken on Lent challenges? I’ve heard office rumours of a few Lent set-backs but everyone is putting a lot of time, thought and effort into their challenges.

Watch our first Lenten journey video to find out what some CAFOD staff have been cutting out and doubling up this Lent:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yBjrQCjxs&w=560&h=315]

Burned cakes and new inventions

I’ve been doubling my baking to raise money for the CAFOD Lent Appeal. I was a bit nervous and pressed for time in my first week so I made something simple – a Lemon Drizzle Cake. It came out well and all twelve slices were sold for a pound each by mid-afternoon the following day. Continue reading “Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges”

My life in Aleppo – A mother’s story

Mariana works for a CAFOD partner in Syria, providing life-saving food and emergency supplies to people who continue to be torn apart by the four year conflict. Read her story.

Fear and worry are my constant companions, never leaving my side when I’m at home or when I go to work. This is because of the continuous deadly shelling. You never get use to that sound, its power and then the haunting silence afterwards, followed by the cries of the injured.

CAFOD Syrian mother
Mariana

About the author: Mariana works for a CAFOD partner in Syria, providing life-saving food and emergency supplies to people who continue to be torn apart by the four year conflict.

Two years ago I was sitting on our balcony with my daughter, singing many songs, when suddenly we were rocked by a powerful explosion. We froze. I watched my daughter’s face grow paler and paler, and then we heard the screams of a woman. The shell had landed on the pushchair of her two-year-old daughter, and her husband’s leg had been blown off.

So when I go to work, I ask myself, “Will I reach my job safely today?”

I’m 37 years old. I married in 2010 in Aleppo, and have three children, two daughters and a baby son. In 2012 my husband lost his job – the factory where he was working was destroyed in the fighting. So now I am the breadwinner for my family, employed as an aid worker, with one of CAFOD’s partners in Syria.

Please keep supporting CAFOD’s long-term work and sign up to our direct debit for our Lent appeal. Your first three months will be matched by the UK government.
Continue reading “My life in Aleppo – A mother’s story”

Syria crisis: what’s it like to live without light?

Nick Harrop - CAFOD World News Officer
Nick Harrop


Four years since the start of the Syria crisis, Nick Harrop, CAFOD’s World News Officer, looks at what life is like for those living in Syria.

“I am worried for my children,” says a mother who fled to Lebanon. “They need to get an education. But I don’t feel safe to go home. Sadly I feel there is no future for my children in Syria now.”

“For four years, we have been living in the depths of the cold in a bloody war,” says a CAFOD partner delivering aid in Syria. “War has left us without any way to defend ourselves against the cold. We have no electricity most of the time, no fuel and no gas. We have no way to stay warm apart from putting on many layers of clothes, which don’t help so much when it’s minus eight degrees.”

Support those in Syria

“We used to have a home and a settled life,” says a father who has fled to a refugee camp in Jordan. “Our children went to school each day. But now…” – he shakes his head – “there is nothing left.”

How the crisis started

It is four years since a small group of demonstrators staged a protest against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Within days, the protests spread, and several people were killed. It was a serious political crisis, and a significant moment in the so-called Arab Spring, but few would have imagined that it would turn into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the twenty-first century. Continue reading “Syria crisis: what’s it like to live without light?”

Young climate bloggers: Our Lent Cut it Out! challenge

St Robert's young climate bloggers
St Robert’s young climate bloggers

A CAFOD young climate blogger from St Robert’s tell us why giving up chocolate for Lent is helping tackle climate change and gives some hints and tips on how you can Cut it Out! too.

What are you cutting out this Lent? What difference will it make to stop climate change? This year, CAFOD are organising a Cut it Out! challenge to enforce their climate change campaign. For every pound they raise, the government are going to match it, up to £5 million, so it is a great opportunity to raise money for our sisters and brothers overseas.

Watch Martin’s film to see how CAFOD’s work supports those most vulnerable to a changing climate.

Usually in Lent I promise myself to give up chocolate or sweets and then it gets to the second week and I completely give up! But this year, I have a cause to work for and so do you. Continue reading “Young climate bloggers: Our Lent Cut it Out! challenge”

Hands On: meet the dam builders

Stella, Sabeth, Kisilu and Juliet are here to show you the work they’ve been doing to build a dam, and why this project is going to make such a difference to them in our video.

A new Hands On project is starting soon – check out the plans for Niger and get involved!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbkxvej0CU8&w=560&h=315]

Continue reading “Hands On: meet the dam builders”

Syrian crisis fourth anniversary: meet two families who fled to Lebanon

15 March sees the Syria crisis enter its fourth year. As the crisis continues to deepen, and the human suffering is greater than ever before, we would like to introduce you to two families who have been affected by the conflict in Syria. With money raised by CAFOD supporters across England and Wales our partner, Caritas Lebanon, is able to support Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict to Lebanon, with vital food, health and education services. 

As part of the #WithSyria campaign CAFOD is calling for world leaders to find a political agreement to end the conflict.

Sign the #WithSyria petition today

Abir and Tony

Abir, Tony and their triplets
Abir, Tony and their triplets

Abir and Tony are Syrian refugees who  fled to Lebanon in 2011, when the conflict intensified in their country.  Thirteen months ago they had they had triplets that were born ten weeks premature. With support from CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon and from the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR the babies received the vital hospital care they needed, and today all three children are healthy.  Continue reading “Syrian crisis fourth anniversary: meet two families who fled to Lebanon”

Lent 2015 appeal: What matters?

Mark Chamberlain is a writer with CAFOD. Already a vegetarian, this Lent he is going vegan by giving up eggs, dairy and honey. He will donate the money he saves to CAFOD and is hoping that his Lenten food choices will help him to reaffirm his belief in non-violence.

I dreamed of an egg last night. A single poached egg, lightly salted on a slice of toast. And as I went to pick up my knife and fork…I woke.

A few years back, when I became vegetarian, I had a similar dream about a giant slice of ham. The ham was huge and was draped over me. I realised the only way to escape was to eat my way out of it. And as I opened my mouth to start feasting…I woke.

I told the ham story to a friend. He had spent time in the Himalayas when he was younger and said when he trekked through the range, his group had run very low on food. After a week or so, he had a dream that his group were all lambs and that the only way to escape starvation was to carry them in his stomach to the nearest town. The good news is, he’s alive and being the lovely chap he is, he didn’t resort to cannibalism.

Every £1 you donate this Lent to the CAFOD Lent Appeal, the UK government will match Continue reading “Lent 2015 appeal: What matters?”

CAFOD and Mike Wooldridge OBE inspire young journalists at Leeds Trinity University Journalism Week

Luke with Mike Wooldridge
St Mary’s Menston sixth former Luke meets BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE joined CAFOD on the podium at Leeds Trinity University this month to mark the university’s annual Journalism week. St Mary’s Menston sixth form student Luke attended the talk and reports his findings below.

It was an afternoon of absorbing tales from the world of journalism, as BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge OBE teamed up with CAFOD to inspire the journalists of the future.

The galvanizing event was just one of a variety of guest speakers and workshops as part of Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week.

Get involved with CAFOD

After an introduction from the CAFOD team based in Leeds, Mr Wooldridge wasted no time in immersing the audience in his stories from a career any journalist would dream of. From the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, to the Haitian earthquake in 2010, the audience was captivated by anecdotes from a working life which Mr Wooldridge describe as “like having a ringside seat at history in the making.”

If any budding journalists present were having second thoughts about their degree, just one hour in this lecture theatre would be enough to set their ship back on course. It made for powerful listening. Continue reading “CAFOD and Mike Wooldridge OBE inspire young journalists at Leeds Trinity University Journalism Week”

Let’s Cut it Out! and double the positive this Lent

Khudayja, CAFOD Young Leader.
Khudayja, CAFOD Young Leader.

Khudayja, A CAFOD Young Leader from Portsmouth Diocese, explains why she is supporting #Muslims4Lent by Cutting it Out with CAFOD and how her Young Leadership group is getting the whole school involved with campaigning and fundraising.

We are a group of Year 12 students studying at sixth form college in Portsmouth Diocese. We believe that we must be the change we wish to see in this world, and this has driven us to become CAFOD Young Leaders. We recognise that the youth of today are the future of tomorrow and therefore it is our duty, as Young Leaders, to make our generation a great one.

Are you a young person? Get involved with CAFOD.

It has been a wonderful experience getting to know other Young Leaders from across the Portsmouth Diocese through our training sessions, ones that have been beneficial in personal development as well as real-life leadership applications.

Continue reading “Let’s Cut it Out! and double the positive this Lent”

Lent 2015: Ann faces the challenge of a 5.30 alarm with no snooze button

Ann Hayes works in CAFOD’s Clifton Office. This Lent, she has challenged herself to cut out using the snooze button on her alarm clock.

Ann Snooze
Ann will be cutting out using her snooze button this Lent

The first two weeks of my Lenten challenge had been going surprisingly well, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. But the real test was looming on the horizon: would I be able to get up at 5.30 to make it to Flame 2?

For Lent, I have chosen to give up pressing snooze on my alarm. This is a pretty big challenge for me as I am a serial snoozer, often snoozing for 45 minutes before dragging myself out of bed and running around the house to get ready on time! I had plenty of tips from family and friends on how to make sure I got up in the morning, from sleeping with the curtains open, to drinking a pint of water as soon as I wake up, but actually apart from feeling pretty awful for the first few days, willpower has really been helping me get through.

And what a joy it is to get up earlier in the morning! It gives me time to get a sensible breakfast, chat to my housemates, and relax whilst getting ready for work. I’m lucky to be able to take a few quiet moments eating my breakfast and looking out into our beautiful garden, and even in these few weeks it’s been great to see Spring arriving. I’ve also taken the opportunity to pray every morning, thanking God for my day, and reflecting with the CAFOD Lent Calendar.

Continue reading “Lent 2015: Ann faces the challenge of a 5.30 alarm with no snooze button”