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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!”
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:
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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). Continue reading “Love and mercy: learning God’s tenderness towards creation”
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.
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!’
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
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.