Hands On Kitui: “In Kenya, anything is possible”

Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He travelled to Kitui in Kenya to record some of the work being done as part of Hands On, Kitui. Here he reflects on what makes the project so special.

We were walking through the old Musosya Dam in Kitui, Kenya and my first question wasn’t so much a question as a statement of disbelief, “So, in a few months’ time, this area will be full of water?’ Nicholas Oloo, my colleague from Nairobi, looked at me – a glint in his eye and an almost imperceptible smile, “In Kenya,” he said, “anything is possible.”

Okay, I might need to qualify my disbelief.

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Continue reading “Hands On Kitui: “In Kenya, anything is possible””

Who do you say I am?

This reflection and prayer, based on the gospel for Sunday 28 June, Matthew 16:13-19, were written by Matthew Sanderson, who is the Executive Assistant to the Director of CAFOD.

“Who do you say I am?”

Matthew Sanderson on a recent trip visiting CAFOD projects in El Salvador
Matthew Sanderson visiting CAFOD projects in El Salvador

What were your first thoughts of God? What did you imagine God to be? For me, God was a figure sat on a cloud with a beard, or someone who wagged his finger from on high. As I have grown up, so too has my answer to the question ‘Who do I say God is?’

For me, God is love. That is who I say God is.

Last week saw the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. Pope Francis is clear that God made us all out of love and to love.

Reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical

We are reminded in the encyclical that “the entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us” (Laudato Si’ section #84). I am reminded of this when I see the rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.

What’s more, the special love of the Creator means each human being is “conceived in the heart of God” (#65). As children of God, we have an inherent dignity, not because of anything we have done, but out of God’s love for us.

We can reflect God’s love for us in our daily lives as “we were made for love” (#58). By remaining in God’s love, may we come to know the Lord more and more each day.

Lord, we give thanks for your love and the world around us. We pray that we continually realise that we were made for love. Amen.

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‘Thanks to CAFOD, I’m not missing out on the world.’

Orla, from London, recently spent a week volunteering at the CAFOD Romero House office. Find out why she thinks young people care about climate change, and who inspired her during her time with the CAFOD team.

Orla volunteering in CAFOD's Romero House office
Orla volunteering in CAFOD’s Romero House office

As an internet-savvy teenager, I have the sort of constant access, 24 hours a day, to the world via social media that my parents never even dreamt of. It’s all there, virtually, and for better or worse, at the touch of a button. News is readily available, telling me stories from half way across the world that I share while sitting on my sofa at home.

For my generation, therefore, the world seems like a smaller place than ever before. And that is reinforced by living and going to school in London. I am part of one of the most ethnically diverse communities anywhere on the globe. In my year group of 96 at my Catholic school, I am one of only four whose parents and grandparents were born and brought up in the UK. So I can learn about such a variety of different cultures by just talking to the person sitting next to me in class.

Speaking Up on 17 June

When looking around my class I know of many members of my friendship group who feel too swept up in the shallowness and unfulfilment that comes with social media. One of the integral parts of my Catholic school is to reach out and help others through charity work. Therefore I know of so many of my peers who seized the opportunity to take part in the Speak Up for the Love of… climate lobby on the 17 June.

Read about the lobby

CAFOD supporters of all ages at the Climate Coalition lobby
CAFOD supporters of all ages Speak Up at the Climate Coalition lobby of parliament

I believe that young people in our society often get the reputation of being uncaring delinquents. However, I speak for many my age when I stress that being a teenager in a world where suffering is so present, where the future of the planet we have to grow up in seems to be spiralling out of control, where the effects of climate change are already being seen, really terrifies us and leaves us feeling powerless.

Continue reading “‘Thanks to CAFOD, I’m not missing out on the world.’”

National Volunteer Week: Toni gets creative in school

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we’re celebrating the amazing and varied work of our CAFOD volunteers. Schools volunteer Toni Woodhead shares her experience of visiting schools, getting creative and inspiring children to take action for CAFOD.

photo
Toni (right) speaking to new school volunteers during their training.

Being a school volunteer has been rewarding and enlightening, even with the preparation time and the first scary moments in front of the children. I have even found a creative side to myself and it is amazing how much it is developing!

The resources from CAFOD are always great and usually contains all the information about what is needed. At first this was all I used but as confidence grows, so do the ideas. From the first dirty water container and the wonderfully wrapped clean water, to the straw animal from Ikea that looked like a supergoat once a red cloak was added, I have started to look at every shape and size in a different way. I used glass spheres in a bucket for the weight instead of water. I bought child size garden tools for the “place at the table” and large sand toys for the “dig deep”. For the funny shaped food I got pictures from the internet and made them A4 size so the children could see them. They found them enjoyable.  I found an old box in the loft that I cleaned and stuck on the words “treasure”.

Find CAFOD resources for children and young people

Continue reading “National Volunteer Week: Toni gets creative in school”

Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon’s reflections on his beatification

Brothers, you are killing your fellow countrymen. No soldier has to obey an order to kill. In the name of God and in the name of the suffering people I implore you, I beg you, I order you, stop the repression!”

Clare and Ben at the tomb
Clare and Ben from CAFOD at Oscar Romero’s tomb

On 23 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero called on the army in El Salvador to disobey their government and lay down their weapons. He must have suspected that by doing so he was signing his own death warrant.

About the author: Clare Dixon is Head of CAFOD’s Latin America Department and a trustee of the Romero Trust. She reflects on Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification today.

The next evening, Romero was celebrating a memorial Mass in San Salvador. The church doors were open and he probably noticed the car drawing up outside. An armed man climbed out, took aim and fired directly at his heart. Romero died instantly, becoming the third bishop in history to be killed in his Church, after Stanislaus of Poland and Thomas Becket.

Today’s ceremony for Romero’s beatification – declaring him “Blessed” in the eyes of the Catholic Church – will see crowds of up to half a million people gather in San Salvador, alongside at least nine Presidents and Church leaders from around the world. This recognition of Romero as a towering figure in Latin America, martyred “in odium fidei” – out of hatred for the faith – is a clear vindication of one of the great figures of the 20th Century, the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi.

Read our answers to your questions about Oscar Romero

Voice of the voiceless

In his three years at the head of the Church in El Salvador, where the military-dominated regime was propped up by the United States to combat a supposed communist threat, Archbishop Romero became the voice of the voiceless. He defended the poorer sectors of society against the violence of paramilitary death squads. His human rights office made daily rounds of the rubbish dumps in San Salvador searching for the bodies of people who’d been murdered, and they kept detailed records of the massacres carried out all around the country Continue reading “Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon’s reflections on his beatification”

Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon's reflections on his beatification

Brothers, you are killing your fellow countrymen. No soldier has to obey an order to kill. In the name of God and in the name of the suffering people I implore you, I beg you, I order you, stop the repression!”

Clare and Ben at the tomb
Clare and Ben from CAFOD at Oscar Romero’s tomb

On 23 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero called on the army in El Salvador to disobey their government and lay down their weapons. He must have suspected that by doing so he was signing his own death warrant.

About the author: Clare Dixon is Head of CAFOD’s Latin America Department and a trustee of the Romero Trust. She reflects on Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification today.

The next evening, Romero was celebrating a memorial Mass in San Salvador. The church doors were open and he probably noticed the car drawing up outside. An armed man climbed out, took aim and fired directly at his heart. Romero died instantly, becoming the third bishop in history to be killed in his Church, after Stanislaus of Poland and Thomas Becket.

Today’s ceremony for Romero’s beatification – declaring him “Blessed” in the eyes of the Catholic Church – will see crowds of up to half a million people gather in San Salvador, alongside at least nine Presidents and Church leaders from around the world. This recognition of Romero as a towering figure in Latin America, martyred “in odium fidei” – out of hatred for the faith – is a clear vindication of one of the great figures of the 20th Century, the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi.

Read our answers to your questions about Oscar Romero

Voice of the voiceless

In his three years at the head of the Church in El Salvador, where the military-dominated regime was propped up by the United States to combat a supposed communist threat, Archbishop Romero became the voice of the voiceless. He defended the poorer sectors of society against the violence of paramilitary death squads. His human rights office made daily rounds of the rubbish dumps in San Salvador searching for the bodies of people who’d been murdered, and they kept detailed records of the massacres carried out all around the country Continue reading “Oscar Romero: Clare Dixon's reflections on his beatification”

Ask an election question: challenging my candidates on poverty

Ask an election question at hustingsSusan works in CAFOD’s Education team. This blog was written just before the 2015 UK general election.

I have a confession to make. Despite years of working for CAFOD and writing to my MP about social justice, I had never attended a hustings meeting of election candidates in my constituency until this month.

Email your candidates  during the 2017 general election campaign with a question on poverty and climate change.

My parish, the Church of the Transfiguration in Kensal Rise, decided to host a hustings for the first time this year. The parish is on the border of two particularly interesting constituencies.

Hampstead and Kilburn is the most marginal seat in the country. Glenda Jackson won in 2010 with a majority of only 42. She is standing down this year, as is Sarah Teather, who has been my constituency MP. She had a slightly higher majority, but this is still the 51st marginal seat. So there’s a lot to play for!

We had a great turn-out, from the candidates – almost all of whom came – and the audience, there were a mix of parishioners and other local community members.  Continue reading “Ask an election question: challenging my candidates on poverty”

CAFOD campaigner? Don’t be shy, reply

clifton heartsSarah works in CAFOD’s Campaigns Team.

Every month, we email CAFOD campaigners – maybe you’re one of them – to share news, feed back on progress and offer new ways in which we need your help.

What do you do when that CAFOD email lands in your inbox? Do you set to and take action? Do you skim through? Do you forward to your friends? Do you delete straightaway? Or do you click reply?

In recent weeks, as our climate change campaign gathers pace, we’ve been receiving lots of replies and emails from you. Some sharing stories of your campaign events, some asking questions, some telling us how we should or shouldn’t communicate.

Fill in our 2 minute campaign survey and tell us what you think 

The big questions

Every one of these emails makes me stop and think. They reconnect me with what we are doing and why. They remind me that, without the support of countless parishes and individuals across England and Wales, our campaigns would make little difference.  Continue reading “CAFOD campaigner? Don’t be shy, reply”

Lent 2015: The one thousand pound tea challenge

1kg of tea

Sarah works in CAFOD’s Campaigns team.

It’s five weeks now since I cut out drinking tea for Lent, in order to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent appeal and generate support for our One Climate, One World campaign to tackle climate change.

Progress so far:

Money raised: £496.10 (doubled by match funding from the UK government, to make £992.20)

Cups of tea not drunk: About 185

One Climate, One World petition signatures: At least 20

Days to go: 9

My fundraising has been going better, much better, than expected, which almost makes up for the caffeine withdrawal. I just need £3.90 more to raise a total of £1,000 towards CAFOD’s work. Sponsor me now

£1,000: that’s a lot of money. I ask my family what they’d do with £1,000. “I’d get i pads,” says my older daughter without missing a beat. Continue reading “Lent 2015: The one thousand pound tea challenge”

Lent 2015: Pray and Fast for the Climate

Fast and Pray for the ClimateLent is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer, to give thanks for what we have and remember those who have less.

Donate to CAFOD this Lent and every £1 you give will be matched by the UK government, up to £5 million

Barbara Kentish (pictured centre) is the Justice and Peace worker for Westminster diocese and a CAFOD supporter. She explains here why she’s extended the practice of fasting to the first of every month, and why fasting and prayer is gaining momentum with people of all faiths as a way to highlight the need for urgent global action on climate change.

I have worked all my life for inclusion of one kind or another: race, rich and poor, gender and culture. Climate change challenges all of us to see ourselves in relation to the whole human family and to deepen our solidarity in order to address our common future.

It was my sister who first got me involved in climate change campaigning. She is an eco-theologian with a deep expertise on drought in Rajasthan. But I’ve also been influenced by close friends who have been climate advocates for decades.

Add your voice – email party leaders calling for action on climate change

Why fast and pray?

The idea of praying and fasting for the climate came from Yeb Sano, Filipino leader of his country’s delegation to the Warsaw Climate talks in 2013.

He made an impassioned speech about the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan in his country and pledged to fast for the climate until an effective international solution had been reached. He will also be walking from Rome to Paris in December, with a copy of the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical, in the lead up to the COP 21 climate change talks in Paris.  Continue reading “Lent 2015: Pray and Fast for the Climate”