Gillie Drinkall is a CAFOD school volunteer who has been visiting schools in South London to talk about Zimbabwe, and to introduce the Lent Give it up challenge.
A primary school in South London. A very small boy approached me and apologised for not being at my previous assembly as he was in hospital. He then confided, with breathless excitement, “It’s my birthday in six days’ time!”. I wished him “Happy Birthday … in six days’ time” and turned to a slightly older boy who wanted to know how to give money to CAFOD as soon as possible. I was reminded how much I enjoy talking to small children.
I have scheduled visits to an unusually high number of schools this Lent to share stories from Zimbabwe and to talk about the Give it up challenge. As ever, until the first assembly unfolds, I am never quite sure how the children will respond. This time I was going to try and show all the schools the short film featuring Svondo and his mother Marian who live in Zimbabwe.
As we continue to celebrate the Easter Season, Jessica Coffin, CAFOD’s Communications Officer, shares a hopeful story from Zambia.
In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, I came across a story. A story that was full of obstacles and hardship, but also full of hope. It reminded me of the hope that comes with Easter.
From the age of five, Mulenga lived with his grandfather in the village of Chushi in Mbala, Northern Zambia. Life was challenging. Mulenga had complex physical and mental disabilities but he did not have a wheelchair, so his only way of moving around was by rolling his body or being lifted by others.
Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, took on a new challenge this Lent, one that mirrors the challenge faced by thousands of young girls around the world. With Lent over, he reflects on some of the difficulties he expected to face, and others that surprised him.
I’ve (just about) been keeping up with my Lent challenge of running to water once a week.
For the most part, the experience has been what I expected. That is, I knew I’d find it difficult. I’ve always enjoyed sports and still do exercise, but running has never really been my thing. 5km is not a particularly long way, but my body has always made it pretty clear it considers itself to have been built for running distances of 50-60 metres tops.
So there’s been lots of wheezing and knee creaking. Observers would be forgiven for thinking my Lent challenge has been to perfect my impression of a man running backwards. But there have also been a couple of things I did not expect.
Others chose to reflect personally and raise awareness in solidarity with people who struggle to get clean water. As I heard each idea, I was touched by their commitment and willingness to push themselves.
I decided to attempt a Channel swim (although admittedly it was in my local swimming pool rather than the cold waters of the Channel) in solidarity with girls like Proscovia, who have to walk two to four hours just to get the water they need.
Each Fast Day, hundreds of CAFOD volunteers arrange to speak at Masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. Jed Murphy, a volunteer from the Southwark diocese, is one of these volunteers. He shares with us how he started volunteering and his top tips for a successful Fast Day talk.
Just over seven years ago I had one of those life-changing moments. I had a day’s annual leave and was lazing on my couch at home. Around me was every conceivable gadget you could think of: large TV, games console, several tablets & smartphones. And I thought to myself: I have all this and yet so many people around the world have nothing. I could not help but think it wasn’t right.
I felt that something had to change. I had to try and do something to make a difference.
I had grown up with CAFOD. I knew that they helped people in need around the world: but I knew little more than that. So I found the CAFOD website, learned a little more about what they did and clicked on a link to apply to be a volunteer. I wasn’t sure what I could do, or how I could help.
As part of the process I met one of the regional volunteer managers. His name was Jim and he was amazing. One of the things that he suggested was whether I would be willing to speak at Masses and make the appeal in support of CAFOD’s Lent and Harvest Fast Days.
Grace Cowley coordinates CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day Appeal. Here she tells us why she’s so passionate about Gift Aid and the difference it makes to CAFOD’s partners around the world.
The Gift Aid system, which gives back tax to charities from donations from tax payers, has just turned 25 years old. You’ll have seen Gift Aid forms when making donations, but it may surprise you just how special this little form is.
“It might just be a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is made up of lots of drops.” Evelina Manola, Caritas Hellas in Greece
In the past 25 years, CAFOD has received £42 million in Gift Aid. That money can be used for any project around the world, which means it can pay for work in places of great poverty, which perhaps aren’t in the headlines.
This is the heart of why Gift Aid is brilliant – because it enables more people to overcome poverty and injustice. The Gift Aid on £1 – 25p – could buy enough rice to feed a family for a day after a natural disaster. The Gift Aid on a £10 Fast Day donation – £2.50 – could pay for antibiotics at a health centre in Niger. Continue reading “How far does your Gift Aid go?”
Tobi is a CAFOD young leader from the class of 2014-15. She has spent the past year working alongside 130 young people from six dioceses, developing leadership skills and learning about justice issues with CAFOD. In this blog she reflects on her year.
Today I joined the CAFOD young leaders of 2014-15 for a day of reflection and celebration at Romero House in London. I can’t believe it has been a year since I joined CAFOD last year through the Youth Leadership Programme! I joined after hearing about it from our charity group meetings. CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and across the world CAFOD do their best to bring hope and help to poor communities mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, aiming to end poverty and injustice.
I chose to take part in the program as it not only aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of international development, global poverty and social justice, but it supports you to become a leader. It taught us how to gain and enhance important life skills such as organisational, communication and leadership skills, which can be transferred into everyday life.
Liam Finn is CAFOD’s Regional Media Officer. He tells us how young people are supporting our sisters and brothers as they face extreme weather.
Hundreds of young people from across the country are joining our One Climate, One World campaign – in schools, in churches, and even in Parliament.
10,000 calls by supporters have been made to party leaders to secure an ambitious global deal to cut polluting fossil fuels and to move towards sustainable energy for everyone. Climate change, which scientists believe with 95 per cent certainty is being driven by human activity, is the biggest threat to tackling poverty worldwide – and is already affecting communities both overseas and in the UK.
Ellie is CAFOD’s PR Officer. This Lent, she has doubled her cycling to work and will give what she saves on travel to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal. Today, her personal Lent journal focuses on her Lent journey.
Lent is one of my favourite times of year. It’s a time for reflection and living simply, and marks the ever-welcome transition between winter and spring. Ash Wednesday is often cold and wet, but by the time Easter Sunday arrives, the nights are getting longer, the daffodils are in full bloom and my winter clothes have been packed away.
Lent is also one of the most important periods in the CAFOD calendar. Our fantastic supporters – school and youth groups, parishes and individuals – pull out all the stops to come up with unique fundraising ideas to raise as much money as possible for our Lent Appeal. Romero House – CAFOD’s London office – is a hive of activity and updates on how the appeal is going are bound to put you in high spirits.
Many of my colleagues have embarked on Lent challenges this year – either doubling something up or cutting something out: Ffion and Laura have doubled their baking, keeping me stocked in sweet treats and raising funds in the process; Mariacristina’s delicious Neapolitan dishes have been the talk of the town during lunchtimes; and Mark has cut out eggs, dairy, and honey (he’s a vegetarian so it’s no mean feat!). Continue reading “Lent Hope Journal: Reflecting on my Lent journey”