Refugee crisis: A message from Lebanon

Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He spent time with refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in December 2015. On International Families Day, he writes about meeting some of the families there.

Razir is a 40-year-old mother of five. It was just after 11 in the morning when I visited her tent.

She offered for me to sit down on the only blanket the family had. I declined, blew into my hands to keep them warm and chose the bare floor instead. It was like sitting on ice.

Send a message of hope to refugees today Continue reading “Refugee crisis: A message from Lebanon”

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?!”

Continue reading “My Lent Challenge: Going ‘tea’-total!”

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.

Continue reading “Lent 2016: Damian’s river run challenge”

Mother’s Day: Meeting Teko Anna

Lent-2016-calendar-21-February-Teko-Anna-and-children_opt_fullstory_large
Teko Anna, Daphne and Violet in their home (Credit: David Mutua)

 

CAFOD writer, Mark Chamberlain recently travelled to Uganda. This Mothering Sunday, he writes on some of the women he met and how they reminded him of his own family.

There was a point when I stood sheltering from those first welcome rains that everything seemed still. It was so strange. Teko Anna’s children running through that heavy roar – Daphne, her nine-year-old over there under the roof of her uncle’s house, jumping in the quickly forming puddles. The younger ones watching Daphne, following her, copying her actions with awkward limbs, splashing though the same puddles.

Proscovia now through the lines of water running with a box of ducklings, bringing them in from the rain.

How will you help mums like Teko Anna this Lent?

Continue reading “Mother’s Day: Meeting Teko Anna”

Climate change campaign: Thank you

Sarah Hagger-Holt works in CAFOD’s campaigns team on the One Climate, One World campaign.

CAFOD campaigners at Paris climate talksLast month, I was part of something very special, a moment in history.

I was in Paris, joining hands with campaigners underneath the Eiffel Tower and praying outside the conference centre where a global climate deal was finally agreed.

At CAFOD, we know that faith groups, including Catholic campaigners, have a huge influence on politicians – including those from the 196 countries who agreed a deal to tackle climate change in December. Their dedication and tenacity often inspires and moves me.

It’s not often what they have done is publically acknowledged. But now it has been.

This letter from Christiana Figueres, who heads up the UN’s work on climate change, is addressed to you, and to everybody who took part in this campaign.

Read it, share it, print it out– this is for you. Thank you.

An open letter of gratitude to all

To those who walked, to those who prayed,
To those who sang, to those who cried,
To those who challenged, to those who supported,
To those who acted early,

To those who came with hope,
To those who came with facts,
To those who used the power of their influence,
To those who honored the public trust bestowed upon them,

To all those, the millions of people around the world
who laboured now and before,
so long and so hard, I say:
This is your success.

Individually for each of you, but more powerfully, collectively for all of us.

A critical milestone reached, a decisive turning point inscribed into history.

We have come together to address the most daunting of challenges. We have done so by respecting our differences and setting aside our enmity, by focusing on the present we share and the future we must build together.

As we celebrate this momentous step, may we remember that the journey ahead, although irreversible, will equally require our determination, our ingenuity, the best of our humanity and above all our community of purpose.

Together we can.

Christiana Figueres

Remembering CAFOD supporters this November

As CAFOD gets ready for its tenth year of November memorial Masses, director Chris Bain reflects on the month of remembrance.

Group of lit candlesNovember is a very special time of year. And it’s not just the fireworks that make it special. For the Church and her faithful, it is a time especially set aside to remember and pray for all those who have died.

For many people, this might seem strange. In today’s busy society there aren’t many opportunities for us to take the time and space to remember those who are no longer with us. We’re constantly on the go and feel we need to be in control. And, because we’re frightened by what might happen if our emotions get the better of us, we are often uncomfortable with the idea of death and grief.

Of course, for those of us who have lost someone special, they are always with us and we think of them often, but it can be hard to find a way to express our feelings or share the experience with others without making people anxious.

Visit our website to find details of your nearest CAFOD memorial Mass

But that’s why this month of remembrance should be recognised more widely. Having a space in the Church calendar where we’re encouraged to celebrate our loved ones reminds us that it is good and right to do so; to remember and give thanks for the people who’ve influenced us, and pray for all those who have died. It might sound sombre, and indeed it can be an emotional time, but ultimately the Church is giving us a message of hope. Hope and encouragement that love and life are stronger than death. Continue reading “Remembering CAFOD supporters this November”

Reflections on 26 years at CAFOD

This November CAFOD’s legacy information officer, Heather, will be leaving CAFOD after 26 years. Here Heather reflects on some of the milestones and changes she’s witnessed during that time.

Heather Vallely with diocesan colleagues
Heather Vallely with diocesan colleagues

26 years is a long time to spend in one place but, as I approach my retirement, I feel fortunate to have worked for an organisation that makes a difference.

The seeds of my interest in overseas development were sown by the teachers, priests and relatives who encouraged me to care about people in poverty.

Readers of my generation will remember the images of starving children in Biafra during the Nigerian civil war (1967-70). As a teenager I didn’t understand the complex and dangerous circumstances in which agencies like CAFOD were working on the ground; but I knew I wanted to help.

Years later, the call to action for my daughter’s generation was Michael Buerk’s report of the 1984 Ethiopia famine. Sr Colette, a remarkable nun who was running a feeding programme for malnourished children, told our parish how important the support she received from CAFOD was.

Donate to our work responding to emergencies

In 1989 I joined CAFOD as parish promotion secretary; supporting the Friday self-denial groups, volunteers, regional organisers and parishes. There were around 50 staff in our Brixton office then and we’d just opened our first international office in Albania.

Continue reading “Reflections on 26 years at CAFOD”

Legacies: giving hope and help for generations to come

CAFOD supporter John van den Bosch visited our projects in Nicaragua to see how gifts in wills, like the one left by his mother, are having a huge impact.

Sister Hermidea Marte is health coordinator at the clinic
CAFOD partner John XXIII Institute is providing healthcare and affordable medicine for rural communities

My mother, Marjorie, was a dedicated CAFOD supporter. When she died, I wasn’t surprised to learn that, as well as providing for her friends and family, she’d also remembered CAFOD in her will. My niece Kate and I were given the opportunity to visit CAFOD projects in Nicaragua to see how legacies like my mother’s are put to use.

Watch our short video of John and Kate’s trip to Nicaragua

As one of my mother’s executors, and a CAFOD supporter myself, I was intrigued.  I suppose you could call me a “curious sceptic”. But the work I saw in Nicaragua and the remarkable people I met there gave me a richer understanding and appreciation of what CAFOD does.

Continue reading “Legacies: giving hope and help for generations to come”

We can all leave a legacy of faith, hope and love

Beth Brook is part of the legacy and remembrance team. In 2012 she visited several CAFOD-funded projects in Nicaragua and hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since. Here she remembers some of the people she met and the lessons she learnt during her trip.

Members of the community in Cerro Pando, Nicaragua
CAFOD is working with communities in Nicaragua to help them build a brighter future for themselves and their children

In my ten years at CAFOD I’ve met lots of wonderful supporters and volunteers and some of our overseas colleagues and partners. The highlight came three years ago, when I accompanied two lovely supporters on a trip to Nicaragua to make a short film (below) about how legacies left to the charity help families and communities thousands of miles away.

It was an exhausting but exhilarating adventure, and one that has left an indelible impression on me. There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t think about the people we met; about their optimism, determination, resourcefulness and sacrifices. They taught me so much.

I’d gone to Nicaragua expecting to see concrete examples of the difference that donations and legacies make, so I could then come back and write a mailing or newsletter about how X amount of money built Y and that benefited Z number of people. That’s how all this works, right? When planning the trip and film I’d made a point of identifying projects that addressed what are often referred to as “basic needs” such as water, housing and healthcare; but I just hadn’t appreciated the far-reaching and complex impact these “basic” projects would have on people’s lives.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPVrQPk4VVc?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Continue reading “We can all leave a legacy of faith, hope and love”

Win a professional energy audit for your parish!

Wayne Ward is Managing Director at CAFOD corporate partner B:SSEC. Here he reflects on their  partnership with CAFOD and an exciting new competition they have launched for parishes

B:SSEC staff on a hike to raise funds for green energy projects in Kenya
B:SSEC staff on a hike to raise funds for green energy projects in Kenya

When forming a new friendship, it’s always important to have things in common. Whether it is a love of cooking, cycling or bad television, it helps to unite you. And it is great when you find someone who appreciates it when you send them a funny cat video or who willingly agrees to go on that five-hour walk with you.

When the building sustainability and environmental consultancy b:ssec was looking to form a partnership with a charity, we followed a similar principle. At b:ssec, we provide expertise in planning, designing and operating low-carbon buildings. Alongside this, we also advise people on ways they can make energy efficiencies in existing buildings. We looked for an organisation that we share similar values with and who we thought would benefit from shared knowledge.

Win a free energy audit for your parish buildings from energy experts B:SSEC

We chose to partner with CAFOD, a development charity, because of our joint love for sustainable energy. This is energy which has been generated from natural sources such as water, wind and the sun. Being ‘sustainable’ means that it doesn’t harm the climate or local environment and that future generations can meet their energy needs. We both recognise the link between access to sustainable energy, protecting the environment and the promotion of human development. Continue reading “Win a professional energy audit for your parish!”