The coronavirus pandemic has meant that summer plans have had to change as many events have been cancelled. When you are unable to act as planned, it’s easy to feel like your chance to make a difference has gone. Julia Corcoran, Leadership Development Coordinator at CAFOD, reminds us that there are still many ways we can make a difference this summer.
Susan Kambalu is Secondary Inset Coordinator at CAFOD. Here she shares how her experience of working with young people has helped her develop new courses as part of the Connecting Classrooms Through Global Learning programme, supported by the British Council.
School students worldwide have been raising their voices to demand that the climate emergency is addressed with urgency. As Swedish schoolgirl campaigner Greta Thunberg famously said: “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
At CAFOD, we are privileged to encounter children and young people acting on this issue both in poor communities overseas and in England and Wales.
Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon.
In a side road in a small town in the Bekaa Valley Yazan and Majed are hard at work. They are brothers aged 10 and 11. Their day started in darkness, getting up at 4am they were a bit scared to be going out before dawn, to get to their jobs in a local bakery.
The tiny bakery turns out flatbreads for local restaurants. The boys work alongside two grown men. The adults receive $40 (£30) a day. The boys get $3 (£2.30) a day between them. But these meagre earnings are vital for their family to survive after fleeing the war in Syria.
CAFOD legacy officer Hannah Caldwell shares the inspiring story of Lisl Steiner, who fled the Nazis, became a teacher and continues to change children’s lives by the gift she left to CAFOD in her will.
There are so many inspirational people at the heart of CAFOD’s work, each with their own story. I’m lucky that in my job every now and then I get to hear a little more of some of these stories.
One that I often think of is that of Lisl Steiner, who supported CAFOD for many years and remembered us with a gift in her will.
Lisl was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, 1923. At 15, as the world was on the brink of war and Jews were suffering cruelty and persecution at the hands of the Nazi regime, she made a lonely journey to England.
This week Claire Bolt is helping her daughter prepare to start school. In this blog she talks about her hopes for the year ahead.
My eldest daughter is starting school in September. Honestly, despite the‘time flies’ warnings you get from elderly aunts, I can’t quite believe it. As the start date draws nearer, I’m remembering Kathleen’s baby stage with glee (sleepless nights, what sleepless nights?), watching with pride as she runs around the park, or grins down at me when she makes it to the top of the climbing frame. She’s only little so what am I doing buying pinafores and black shoes and hair bands to match her uniform?
And then comes the panic. How on earth will we get out of the house on time every morning when just getting dressed or having breakfast can take the best part of an hour? What if she doesn’t like her teacher? Will she make friends? Deep breath. Reception, here we come.
Find out how CAFOD school volunteers Patrick and Isobel from the Portsmouth diocese have been inspiring children with stories about Florence and Bob the fish in Zambia this Lent.
“ It is truly heart-warming that our children have the ability to understand hardship, see injustice and unfairness and appreciate that they can play a practical part in making life for others just a little bit fairer.”
Introducing Bob the fish
We were introduced to ‘Bob’ the fish and Florence at our school volunteer training day in February, and we were impressed by the story and the idea of this project. The theme for this year’s Lent Fast Day was ‘Turn little fish into Big Fish’ and it focused on a community in Zambia which has been supported by CAFOD, working with local, expert partners, Sister Yvonne and The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Bob the fish really appealed to the children, and we were inundated with volunteers when we asked for children to help stock our ‘bucket-pond’ with tiny fish. Children came up with a wide variety of fundraising event ideas which included buying little fish to fill a net, covering a large cut-out of ‘Bob’ in coin scales and paying to wear odd-combination clothes in school.
Rachel Simkin is CAFOD’s World Gifts Co-ordinator. She was inspired to share the story of 10-year-old Florence, who set herself a fundraising quest to buy World Gifts knowing they would bring a smile to others.
When I first heard about Florence’s quest to fundraise for World Gifts, I found it inspiring to hear of her energy and was delighted that she was encouraging so many to join her quest. Then I was even more amazed when I learnt she was just 10 years old!
Florence is one of CAFOD’s youngest local volunteers and has succesfuly inspired her Rotherham community to buy World Gifts to help communities across the world.
“I thought it was an awesome idea,” said Florence. “I really wanted to help people who didn’t have what I have got. Last Christmas, I asked my friends at school to make a donation instead of sending Christmas cards to each other. I made a speech after Mass and told the parishioners I would be selling raffle tickets and the winner of the raffle would get to choose the animal’s name.
“Everyone at school and in my parish joined in and it was so successful we raised enough money to buy two goats, Kathleen and Rosie, and Maisey the piglet.”
But Florence didn’t stop at Christmas; she decided to volunteer for CAFOD and organise more events throughout this year to encourage her fellow pupils to fundraise and learn about others across the world.
Clare Grimes is a CAFOD schools volunteer working with children in the Hallam diocese. Over the last few months Clare has been running the Year of Mercy pilgrimage with children, and has been encouraging schools to take part in the refugee action.
‘I was moved by the child who shared that his hope was to see the world at peace with no more wars.‘
Friday 17 June was a nice sunny day and I felt very happy to be visiting St Thomas More school in Sheffield to hold a ‘Welcome the stranger’ refugee workshop with a Year 6 class. Alex and Rose, two other volunteers for CAFOD were also coming to help. I had led this workshop with other schools and had excellent response and participation, so I was really looking forward to another opportunity. The children entered the hall very quietly and looked happy and expectant.
We began with a presentation of various pictures of refugees and shared the facts and figures. The children answered questions intelligently and eagerly. When asked about their hopes and dreams they were forthcoming and shared their aspirations to be actresses, doctors, teachers, just to get married, Olympic athletes, and footballers of note.
I was moved by the child who shared that his hope was to see the world at peace with no more wars.
We then showed the film/video of the refugee children and their hopes and dreams.