Step into the Gap – first blog from Zimbabwe!

The Step into the Gap volunteers arrive in Zimbabwe
The Step into the Gap volunteers arrive in Zimbabwe

We have arrived, safe and sound in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The weather is beautiful – sunny and warm. The journey was long and tiring, but we were all very excited to get our first view of Harare in the drive from the airport. Many things were surprising and new to us – people grilling corn on the cob on stones at the side of the road, people selling newspapers in the middle of the traffic or carrying crates of bread on their heads. We were all ready for the lovely evening meal at the Dominican Convent, where we received a very warm welcome from the sisters, which immediately made us feel at ease and at home.

Find out more and apply for the Step into the Gap programme

Getting ready for a long awaited good night’s sleep turned out to be more eventful than expected. Leila locked herself out of her room and camped out on Lizzie’s floor, Lizzie temporarily broke the tap in the shower, Keiron overcame his fear of spiders thanks to the company of a particularly big black one in his room, and although Mary was missing her phone and the internet, all in all, we enjoyed a great rest.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – first blog from Zimbabwe!”

Forging peace in South Sudan

By John Ashworth, adviser to the Sudan and South Sudan churches

South Sudan sank into civil war in December 2013, less than three years after gaining independence. This latest civil war is often described as a political power struggle which soon morphed into ethnic conflict.

However, it might be more accurate to say ‘revenge-driven’ rather than ‘ethnic’. The lack of a reconciliation process to address the hurts of earlier conflicts has only exacerbated the thirst for revenge. The peace talks led by the regional grouping IGAD in Ethiopia’s capital Addis are attempting to address the political component; but who will address the cycle of revenge?

Bibiana - refugee camp, Juba, South Sudan
Bibiana Okong lives in the safety of a camp on the outskirts of Juba. She fled to the camp after one of her sons was accused of being a government soldier and was killed.

‘People to People’ – bringing communities together

In the 1990s, during an earlier conflict which also exhibited ethnic revenge dynamics, the churches created an innovative People to People Peace Process which brought warring communities together again. Aid agencies such as CAFOD played a major role as partners in supporting the original People to People Peace process, working with and through the Church at the grassroots to build peace at a local level in communities. The lessons learnt from this process can contribute to resolving the current conflict.

Please donate to support vulnerable communities in South Sudan

These days the term ‘People to People’ seems to be bandied about by anyone who wants to raise funds for their own particular peace and reconciliation conference. However, People to People was not primarily about conferences; it was about months and indeed years of patient preparation, mobilisation, awareness-raising, consultation and trust-building on the ground before the high-profile conferences took place. Bringing a few chiefs and elders together for a highly-visible quick-fix conference is not ‘People to People’. Continue reading “Forging peace in South Sudan”

Introducing our new CAFOD young climate bloggers!

CAFOD's new young climate bloggers!
Some of CAFOD’s new young climate bloggers!

Our 25 new CAFOD young climate bloggers are launching One Climate, One World for children and young people today at Brentwood Cathedral. They have been training with CAFOD in media and campaigning at the Othona Community in Essex. They will be blogging on climate and environment issues throughout 2015. Here are their very first blogs: Continue reading “Introducing our new CAFOD young climate bloggers!”

Marvellous Marmalady – The Value of Volunteers

Alice Stride works in CAFOD’s PR team.

Gloria - 2
Gloria Irons with her marvellous marmalade

CAFOD is privileged to have many wonderful supporters. One supporter, ‘Marmalady’ Gloria Irons from Norwich, has raised over £10,000 for us with her marvellous homemade marmalade – and her wonderful work has even been written about in the national press.

Gloria’s marmalade success “started by accident”. She said, “I was going to a fete and I  had forgotten to bake anything. I grabbed some jars of  marmalade I  had made and they sold like hot cakes.”

Make a donation to CAFOD’s work

Continue reading “Marvellous Marmalady – The Value of Volunteers”

“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”