Liam Finn is CAFOD’s Regional Media Officer. His personal Lent journal today focuses on World Day of 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.
“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.
“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.”
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:
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”
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.
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”
There’s nothing wrong with tea. Many of my fellow CAFOD cut-it-outers are doing without things that have a direct impact on the carbon emissions that cause climate change, like eating meat, or taking up environmentally friendly activities like cycling. Tea, apart from the inevitable air miles to get it here, is a fairly minor vice. Especially as I always drink Fairtrade.
Libby Abbott, Campaigns Coalition Manager at CAFOD, tells us why – for the love of water and communities facing drought – she is excited about CAFOD participating in the Climate Coalition’s ‘Show the love’ campaign this February.
I grew up in Texas which, despite what many people have told me, is not a desert – at least, not all desert. It has grassy plains, rolling hills, forests, swamps, beaches and even a few mountains tucked away (and, yes, there is desert).
That said, even in the wetter regions of Texas, we would experience the occasional drought. People easily got by with watering lawns less or only washing cars in the evening. Hosepipe bans weren’t uncommon, but the droughts never lasted very long.
CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Nicaragua – Kate, Chris, Bernie, and Step – have come to the end of their time with the Sisters of the Guardian Angels. They’ve each picked a photograph to reflect on the experiences that have stayed with them the most from their week:
Chris, Bernie, Kate, and Steph from CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme have written about their week with the Sisters of the Guardian Angel, who work to support young people in Nicaragua.
We have just spent a week with The Sisters of the Guardian Angel. They have been involved with CAFOD for many years and work in many communities around Managua and the surrounding regions. They run a three-year youth leadership diploma programme for young adults based on practical experience of helping to lead youth groups and children’s groups. The training is enhanced by CAFOD’s support of Envio, a monthly magazine on social and justice issues and workshops that explore current affairs affecting Nicaragua and the rest of Central America. The youth leaders are encouraged to go along to the workshops whenever they can.
Our Fundraising Writer Mark Chamberlain visited Myanmar in 2014 to learn about the effects of storms and extreme weather. Myanmar is the focus for this year’s CAFOD Lent appeal which is being match funded by the UK government.
In June last year, I was lucky enough to spend some time with U Than Win, Martin, Kyin Nu, Zin Thu Thu and U Win Myi the fisherman in Myanmar. While staying in their communities, I kept a diary and made a list of points about surviving the jungle. Here are eleven things I learned:
1. Footwear is essential. No matter how hot it is and how liberating the sensation of the jungle floor on your bare feet is, don’t be tempted to walk around without protection. The jungle is alive with spiders, snakes and the intimidating ‘scorpion king’. Bites can be lethal because both communities were are a long way from a hospital.
2. The ‘scorpion king’ is a giant centipede. It won’t kill if it bites, but it will hurt. A lot. Make sure you move your bed away from a wall if you are near one – this is so it doesn’t creep into bed with you for a snooze.
Lent is traditionally a time of giving, praying and fasting, as we seek to transform our lives and the lives of others. Ffion Dean, our Web Editor, has been talking to CAFOD staff about their great ideas to live out our Lenten practice, and make a difference to the world’s poorest people.
Here at Romero House we’re excited about the fact that donations to CAFOD this Lent are being doubled by the UK government. We want to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity and have been putting our heads together to think of how we can raise as much money as possible between 18 February and 17 May.
Although I won’t be giving something up in the traditional Lent fashion, I’ve decided to double the time and effort I put into CAFOD fundraising through the medium of biscuits and cakes! I find spending an afternoon baking very relaxing, but I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like. I’m aiming to bake once a week during Lent and to sell to my creations to CAFOD colleagues. It’s going to be a great feeling knowing that every time someone spends £1 on a biscuit, the UK government will be putting another £1 in the fund towards CAFOD’s work to ensure the world’s poorest women, men and children are able to cope with the effects of storms, droughts and floods. Continue reading “Doubling our impact this Lent”