The Child Breadwinners of Bekaa

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

The brothers working at the bakery.
The brothers working at the bakery.

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.

Donate to CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Appeal. Continue reading “The Child Breadwinners of Bekaa”

Back to school: Our work with children and young people

Monica Conmee works in our education team. In this blog she explains why education is such an important part of CAFOD’s work.

My dear young people, a better world can be built as a result of your efforts, your desire to change, and your generosity. Pope Francis

CAFOD is nothing without faith, our international partners and people. I am constantly amazed at the insights, ideas and sheer determination of people to build a more just and peaceful world. When given the chance to reflect and learn, these actions can combine to make a significant impact on our world and in our communities. Pope Francis’ address to young people earlier this year reminds us how much of a difference young people can make.

Continue reading “Back to school: Our work with children and young people”

Gifts in wills: Lisl’s legacy of love

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.

Continue reading “Gifts in wills: Lisl’s legacy of love”

Back to school: A parent’s reflection

This week Claire Bolt is helping her daughter prepare to start school. In this blog she talks about her hopes for the year ahead.

Claire is a parent preparing to go back to school
Claire with her family.

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?

Getting ready to go back to school? Check out our top tips for teachers

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.

Continue reading “Back to school: A parent’s reflection”

Fish fayres and fish prayers: learning about Zambia in school

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.

See how children and young people have been fundraising this Lent

Continue reading “Fish fayres and fish prayers: learning about Zambia in school”

10-year-old Florence’s World Gifts Christmas quest

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.

Young CAFOD Volunteer Florence is on a quest to buy ethical presents this Christmas
Florence is on a quest to transform lives by fundraising for World Gifts

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.

Young Florence first got the idea while listening attentively to her priest, Father Dee, at Mass. He had just been bought a goat from CAFOD’s World Gifts range as a thank you present.

“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.”

Buy ethical gifts and help transform the lives of poor communities this Christmas

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.

Continue reading “10-year-old Florence’s World Gifts Christmas quest”

Our pilgrimage for refugees at school

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.

Join us on the march for refugees on Saturday

pilgrimage-2
Children have been learning about the refugee crisis in class with CAFOD volunteers

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.

Watch this film about refugee children’s dreams

Continue reading “Our pilgrimage for refugees at school”

Hopes for the new school year

This week mother-of-three Catherine Jones is saying goodbye to the summer holidays and preparing for a new school term. In this blog she talks about her hopes for the year ahead.

CAFOD children going back to school
The children going back to school

The youngest of our three children, Martha, starts in year 1 this week. And after the summer break, my immediate thoughts are practical. How on earth will we all manage to be out of the house before 8.30am? Where is the favourite Star Wars lunch box? Do the PE kits still fit?

Explore CAFOD’s Education resources

I remember different feelings a year ago, when Martha began in reception. We had celebrated her 4th birthday just days before and now she was off to big school. She looked so small in her uniform, with her huge school bag and shiny new shoes. How would she react when we had to say goodbye at the door? Would the teacher allow her to keep hold of her cuddly monkey?

And the fears don’t go away. Will school restrict Martha’s curiosity and imagination? Will she make friends? Trying to support her and her big brother and sister as they come to the realisation that there are people in their class and the world who are very different to them.

Continue reading “Hopes for the new school year”

International Day of Literacy: Spend a day with Musa

A day with Musa
CAFOD’s big book for children

To celebrate International Day of Literacy, children’s author and primary school teacher Russ Brown explains how CAFOD’s big book for children can excite the imagination and help children’s understanding of the wider world.

 “A big book to promote big talk”  Russ Brown

 Today is International Day of Literacy, a day to celebrate the importance of literacy around the world.

CAFOD’s big book, A day with Musa, takes us on a journey through an ordinary day for an ordinary child in Bangladesh. It raises the simple question of how are we different, while cleverly showing children how fundamentally we are all the same, regardless of skin, language or belief.

Buy A day with Musa

Continue reading “International Day of Literacy: Spend a day with Musa”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate

Katy Lowrey is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Zimbabwe. Here she writes about how vital birth certificates are to families and how difficult it can be for children to get one.

Katy is one of CAFOD's gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe
Katy is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe

We have been in Zimbabwe now a week and we have visited two different partners. Both have shown me so much: about life in Zimbabwe, an insight into the difficulties faced by organisations such as Mashambanzou and Mavambo – two of our partners – and the reality of what life is like for people living in poor communities.

Support people affected by climate change

One thing that has really stood out and shocked me and made me think is something that before this trip I would never have really thought of as being important in my life. What I have learned is that every child needs a birth certificate. Without it they cannot go to school, they cannot take exams, they cannot apply for an ID and they cannot vote. Therefore this means this child will grow up to be a human being without any rights, it takes away their dignity. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate”