Nepal earthquakes: rebuilding lives and homes one year on

Janet Crossley is CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager for Nepal. One year on from the devastating earthquakes which struck Nepal in April and May 2015 watch Janet’s short video from Nepal and read how the generosity of supporters has helped our partners reach the people who were most affected.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wt0jndoVuY?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

When I arrived in the village of Bungkot in Gorkha district, piles of rubble still filled spaces where houses once stood. Grass and crops had already started to grow out of the heaps of stone and dust that families once called home.

Please pray for the people of Nepal

I first visited Gorkha district in western Nepal three months after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday 25 April. It devastated the lives of more than 5 million people, killing over 8,700, and reducing more than half a million homes to rubble. A second earthquake caused further destruction when it hit three weeks later on 12 May.

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My Lent Challenge: Going ‘tea’-total!

Tom, from CAFOD’s fundraising team, challenged himself to give up hot drinks for Lent. He tells us how he got on, and reflects on how the generosity of CAFOD supporters in the UK is helping people like those he met in Kenya.

CAFOD's Tom has his first cup of tea since the start of Lent
First brew and a slice of brack – Happy Easter!

This Lent, I took on a challenge very different to my usual no-sweet-things observance. In line with CAFOD’s aqua themed fundraising appeal, I decided to take up a water challenge and drink no hot drinks for 40 days and 40 nights.

There is still time to donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal and help change lives

For some people this would be fairly straight forward. But I come from a long line of tea drinkers and would usually have at least 3 cups a day. A visit to my Nan’s is synonymous with having a brew, and if you were to turn one down you’d immediately be confronted with a “What’s wrong?!”

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Virgin London Marathon 2016: Team CPL Aromas running for CAFOD!

Bright and early on the morning of Sunday, 24 April, eight runners from CAFOD corporate supporter CPL Aromas will be making their way to the start line of the 2016 Virgin London Marathon. Here three members of Team CPL tell us about the highs and lows of training, along with their motivations for taking on this huge challenge.

Chris Pickthall, Group CEO, CPL Aromas:

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Chris has completed 14 marathons and visited CAFOD projects in Kenya and Sudan

“When I heard that CAFOD had spaces for the London Marathon, we put a note on the CPL intranet asking if anyone would like to take part. Much to my surprise, we now have eight runners!

Sponsor Team CPL and support CAFOD’s work with vulnerable communities

Back in January, I completed the Dubai marathon. I’ve done 14 marathons and this was the most difficult. I found it really tough. We were running up and down one long road, which gets a bit monotonous. The atmosphere at the London Marathon is sensational and I am really looking forward to it.

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Running for water: Unexpected challenges

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.

CAFOD Lent Appeal Damian at the river for his Lent challenge
Damian at the river he ran to every week in Lent

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.

There is still time to donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal and help change lives

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.

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CAFOD Lent challenges: What we learned and what we’ll remember

Mariacristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who have taken up some really exciting challenges this Lent.

CAFOD staff ready for Lent challenges
CAFOD staff at the beginning of our challenges

Back in February, right at the beginning of Lent, I shared my excitement about the number of extraordinary challenges that some of my colleagues had set themselves.

Some decided to fundraise for the CAFOD Lent appeal, seizing the amazing opportunity to double their impact with match funding.

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.

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Elly’s Lent challenge: Swimming the length of the English channel!

CAFOD’s Eleanor Heans-Glogowska set herself the challenge of swimming the length of the English Channel over the course of the 40 days of Lent.

CAFOD Lent Elly swimming the length of the English channel
Elly is swimming the length of the English channel this Lent!

This Lent I set myself the challenge of swimming 22 miles – the length of the English Channel.

Good Friday is approaching and I can almost see the French coast appearing on the horizon! I’ve now got just 300 lengths left of my Lent Channel Challenge.

Support CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

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.

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Lent 2016: Damian’s river run challenge

Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, has set himself a Lent challenge to run 5km at least once a week to a local water source. He reflects on how his challenge has helped him think about those who need to take hours out of their day simply to collect the water they need to survive.

Damian and Hazel water challenges
Damian getting ready for his running challenge, with colleague Hazel who is also taking on a challenge this Lent

I rise early. I climb reluctantly from my warm bed and dress quietly in the dark, not wanting to wake my family. I stretch a few times then step out of the house into the cold morning. With only the faint glow of the streetlights to show me the way, I begin to run.

It is Lent and I have a new challenge. Before completing my usual morning routine and going to work, I have to find time at least once a week to go to the local river.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal

Elsewhere a young girl rises early. She too climbs reluctantly from her bed, dresses quickly and efficiently and leaves the family home. She lifts up the large water containers and begins to walk.

She too has a new challenge. She is now deemed old enough to take on certain responsibilities. So, instead of completing her usual morning routine of getting ready for school, she is going to the local river to collect water.

Despite the parallel storylines there are worlds of difference between the trips.

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Love and mercy: learning God’s tenderness towards creation

The Year of Mercy is an opportunity to celebrate God’s love and to bring mercy to others. Celia Deane-Drummond, a member of the CAFOD Theological reference group, reflects on God’s mercy towards creation and what this teaches us today.

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Mercy is like “a quiet breath of hope”

Most of us have had times in our lives when we have known what it means to receive mercy from others. Perhaps through the caring we received after an injury or illness, either physical or mental; perhaps through knowing we have done something wrong and feeling dependent on someone else’s forgiveness; perhaps just sheer material need that depends on another’s act of generosity. Mercy is what we need when we are vulnerable and in need of love, healing and forgiveness. It accompanies those good actions like a quiet breath of hope.

Find out more about the Year of Mercy

Mercy and Laudato Si’

The only time that Pope Francis explicitly mentions mercy in Laudato Si’ is in a paragraph on God’s love for creation where he cites Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis, written ten years earlier in 2005. For love has a way of binding up all other attitudes towards the created world, and without which mercy becomes impossible. So, in the same paragraph, Pope Francis refers back to the work of the early Church father, Basil the Great, as well as the well-known medieval poet, Dante, in order to support his claim.  It is worth meditating on this passage a little more in order to unpack what mercy might mean in relation to the created world:

“Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. Saint Basil the Great described the Creator as “goodness without measure”, while Dante Alighieri spoke of “the love which moves the sun and the stars”. Consequently, we can ascend from created things “to the greatness of God and to his loving mercy”(§77).
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Show Your Love and Share Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

Libby Abbott, Campaigns Coalition Manager at CAFOD, tells us how witnessing an act of kindness from a supporter on the Paris metro has inspired her to Show the Love and tackle climate change.

Crafted Green Hearts for Show the Love campaign
Green Hearts for Show the Love

In December, I had the privilege to travel with 21 CAFOD campaigners to Paris as part of the UN COP21 – where world leaders met and agreed a binding deal to tackle climate change. We had an incredible time bearing witness and participating in mass mobilisations around the Eiffel Tower.

We also had some very meaningful exchanges with Parisians. On the Paris metro, one campaigner, Jane, noticed a woman staring at a badge she was wearing. The badge was a heart made of green felt with the word ‘families’ embroidered across the front.

Jane explained to the Parisian that it represented families all over the world who would be affected by climate change. She then unpinned the green heart from her coat and gave it to the woman to keep. Looking back to me she said, ‘I guess I’ll just have to make another one for myself!’

Unbeknownst to Jane, she had just participated in a campaign action. CAFOD is teaming up with the Climate Coalition this Valentine’s Day to #ShowTheLove for all the things we hold dear that could be affected by climate change, from our families in the UK to the world’s poorest overseas. Continue reading “Show Your Love and Share Your Heart for Valentine’s Day”

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2015

Montserrat Fernández, Programme Officer for Central America, has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years. On the first day of the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign she shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue, and what motivated her to act.

My experience of gender-based violence

Montse has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years.
Montse has been working against gender-based violence for 22 years.

I belong to the 35 per cent of women worldwide who have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in our lives. At 20 years old, I was living in Barcelona and studying teaching. One day, while travelling to teach at a primary school, I was raped.

I went to the police station to denounce the attack but there were no police women at that time, in the 80s, in Barcelona. The policeman who took my testimony got red face as I described what had happened. My parents then accompanied me to another police station to look through photos of all rapists in Barcelona, to see if I could recognise my aggressor. He was not in the police photo albums, but my neighbour, the son of one of my parents’ friends, was.

I decided to denounce the attack because I didn’t want the young girls who were going to the primary school to have the kind of bad experience I was facing. Today, in Nicaragua where I work, I know that girls going to school in rural areas are facing similar experiences on the way to school or even inside their schools. Because of this, some girls decide to drop out of school.

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