Today is Nelson Mandela Day. In 2005 at the ‘Make Poverty History’ march, Nelson Mandela called young people to be part of a ‘great generation’ to work to eliminate world poverty. Francis Hillen reflects on what being part of the ‘great generation’ means to him.
Francis is a youth worker at the Kenelm Youth Trustin Birmingham Archdiocese where he supports young people on their faith journey through retreats and outreach work. He’s the CAFOD ambassador on the team there, championing the inclusion of global justice in the programmes.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela
When I think of this quote I think of the power we all have to make a difference or a change. Nelson Mandela is a great example of a man who during his lifetime made a remarkable positive change.
During Mandela’s lifetime we see how the people of Britain were able come together and campaign against the injustice of apartheid and Mandela’s imprisonment throughout the 80s. This most definitely will have gone some way towards his freedom and subsequent election as President of South Africa. For example the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ was written by a group of lads from Coventry, it later became an anthem used by the movement.
In today’s world there are many people who lack freedom and through my work with Kenelm Youth Trust as a gap year volunteer, and as a CAFOD Ambassador, I’ve seen the yearning of young people to make a difference. Children I’ve worked with have written truly sincere messages of hope for refugees and teenagers have offered words of solidarity.
In July, Takura Gwatinyanya, from CAFOD partner Caritas Harare, will be travelling across England and Wales to share his passion for tackling poverty and to show how your support is making a difference in Zimbabwe.
Meet Takura and discover more about CAFOD’s climate and energy campaign at a series of special events, starting in London on Wednesday 6 July.
We caught up with Takura to ask his about his family, his work and what keeps him motivated.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to Rutendo Avriel, and we have one five-year-old son.
You’re an expert in water and sanitation. What makes you passionate about this area?
My experience in sanitation and humanitarian work has shown me that access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. It bring human dignity, with immediate and evidenced results. The need for decent water and sanitation cuts across all ages and all backgrounds, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor.
Pumps run on solar power are helping people in the communities where I work to access clean water and are reducing the time it takes people to collect water.
This Lent, Joe Andrew celebrated 20 years of volunteering with CAFOD.Here, he writes about the journey on which volunteering has taken him:
My involvement with the Catholic Church and with groups like CAFOD has gone in waves or cycles all my life. As a teenager I was an altar boy, went to Mass several times a week, and did house-to-house collections, sponsored events, all that kind of thing.
In my 40s I returned to my youthful faith and enthusiasms, and with it a renewed sense that ‘faith without deeds is dead’. With a few like-minded people in the parish I helped set up a local CAFOD group. We did lots of different stuff: raised money by auctions, coffee mornings, raffles and all the things that Catholics are so good at. Within a few years, I felt the need to go further, and applied successfully to become what was then known as a Covenant Volunteer for Birmingham Archdiocesan CAFOD. (‘Covenant’ meant that you ‘covenanted’, that is, committed to spend x hours a year on work for CAFOD).
Now the arrangements are more informal and you do what you can. For me my main role is as a Media Volunteer, and I also speak at Mass around the two Fast Days, visit a few local schools at those times, and also help out with fixing up speakers at Mass for the two Fast Days.
Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share why volunteering with CAFOD is important to them. One volunteer, Trevor Stockton, has been an active volunteer for more that 40 years in the Birmingham diocese. Here, he shares his inspiration for volunteering and tips for those wanting to get involved.
My volunteer work with CAFOD has been an important part of my life, especially my spiritual life, since the early 1970s. I was inspired by Pope Paul’s encyclical ‘Populorum Progressio’ and by Dom Helder Camara and his work in Brazil.
My whole working career was in social work and so my commitment to people who are disadvantaged was already active. So, parish involvement in Lent and Harvest Fast Days, and campaigns such as that against apartheid in South Africa were my starting points with CAFOD.
CAFOD volunteer Kris Pears from Coventry went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham and spoke to fellow pilgrims about the Lampedusa cross
“Hello my name is Kris and I am a CAFOD volunteer”, an opening line that I have used many times in the past, but this time it was very different.
Pentecost Sunday 2016 was the third and final day of the weekend pilgrimage to Walsingham by my parish, St Thomas More’s. The day before I had been privileged to serve Mass for Bishop Robert Byrne at the climax of the Archdiocese of Birmingham’s Diocesan day pilgrimage to the shrine. This morning the crowds had gone and as we left Elmham house to walk the pilgrims’ mile down to the shrine.
We’d like to introduce the new CAFOD gap year volunteers! They’ve been settling into their new placements with our Step into the Gap scheme and have each written a few words on their hopes for the year ahead.
Bea – Nottingham
Hello I’m Bea and I’m part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme based at The Briars Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I wanted to explore my passion for social justice, so when the opportunity arose to be on the Step into the Gap programme I jumped at the chance! And I can’t believe I’m part of – it’s so exciting!
Susy Brouard is CAFOD’s Theological Advisor. Susy has twelve years experience of facilitating workshops on Catholic Social Teaching. But never has she come across a text which has produced so much energy from her participants. She explains why.
To be perfectly honest with you, Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si’, is a facilitator’s dream.
I say this as someone who has, during the last week, facilitated three different workshops on the encyclical. Each workshop – the first with CAFOD volunteers in Birmingham, the second at the CAFOD headquarters with staff, and the third with members of an Anglican Church in central London – filled the participants with energy and joy. In fact, the Birmingham volunteers took Pope Francis’ words of ’sing as you go’ to heart and ended their day of reflection by singing and dancing a conga in the garden!
So what is it about this encyclical that produces so much energy? This encyclical is unique because it is addressed to every citizen of the earth. Since he wants to communicate with everybody, Pope Francis writes with great clarity and directness. He tells it as it is – the good, the bad and the ugly. It is like looking in a mirror and we realise what madness it is that as humans we are systematically destroying “our common home”.
While this may be seen as depressing, it is also liberating. We are confronted with what we have done and we can decide whether to continue as we are, or make changes to the way we live and consume. In the workshops, we spent time reflecting on the symptoms of overdevelopment which Pope Francis describes in the first chapter of his encyclical; climate change, mining, water pollution and global inequality, amongst others. From our reading, we came up with key elements that we thought were essential for progress; elements such as education, love, justice, understanding, mindfulness, sacrifice and, of course, God!
Students from Blessed William Howard Catholic High School travelled from Wolverhampton to London on the day of the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby to meet their MP. In this blog they reflect on their experience.
On 17 June a group of nine of us from Blessed William Howard travelled to London. We had made a short video clip about climate change as part of the Close-up on Climate film project, and excitingly our video got chosen to be shown at the Speak Up For The Love Of rally at the end of the day.
After a long journey we went to the ecumenical service which was really lovely, as everyone joined in and became united in their belief of addressing climate change. We planned to meet our local MP, Jeremy Lefroy, in the houses of Parliament. We were talking to him for an hour and forty five minutes. What we learnt was very interesting. We asked him several questions, and some even caught him out.
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.
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.