Feliz Natal from São Paulo – Happy Christmas from our Connect2 friends

Some of our Connect2 Brazil friends look back on 2017 and share how they are preparing for Christmas in their communities.

News from our partner MDF and the community of St. Joseph the Worker Pastoral Area

Jenilda and Zeza stand holding Christmas messages beside a Christmas tree in the Cultural Centre in Vila Prudente. There is a CAFOD bauble on the Christmas tree.
Jenilda and Zeza with Christmas messages in the Cultural Centre. Spot the CAFOD bauble!

Jenilda – Vila Prudente Cultural Centre in the St Joseph the Worker Pastoral Area

“At the Vila Prudente Cultural Centre (CCVP) this year we organised different workshops with the children. Each month we had a different area of focus. From solidarity, to the family, the environment, which included a visit to the recycling cooperative. We worked on children’s rights and empowerment, Black History month against racism and discrimination, and in December we will celebrate the arrival of baby Jesus with a children’s concert.

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“Around 60 children from the Cultural Centre will be in the Christmas concert at St. Joseph the Worker church with the theme “How to be a child in the world.”  There will be music and dancing.”


Continue reading “Feliz Natal from São Paulo – Happy Christmas from our Connect2 friends”

The power of a Birth certificate – a World Gifts update

Rachel works for CAFOD. Here she reflects on how meeting Katy, a CAFOD Gapper, helped her to discover the power of a simple birth certificate, and inspired her to create a new, very special virtual gift for CAFOD’s World Gifts collection that will help babies and children around the world.

The importance of a birth certificate

A birth certificate. Every person needs one, it shows our citizenship, lets us get a passport – it tells the world who we are. And I think that here in the UK, we take this simple legal document for granted.

But for people living in poverty, perhaps in rural areas, where babies are born at home, it is often forgotten. And a child without a birth certificate faces problems.

In Zimbabwe, children without a birth certificate cannot go to school, take exams, apply for an ID card, vote, travel, nor access many other basic essential services.

You can buy a Birth certificate World Gift so that a child can go to school

I’ve worked in fundraising for years and am always eager to hear about how donations help. Katy, who recently travelled to Zimbabwe on a gap year trip with CAFOD, told me about the terrible and long-lasting impact of growing up without a birth certificate.

Katy said, “Children around the world continue to grow up without the basic human right of an identity.”

This startling comment gripped me.

Continue reading “The power of a Birth certificate – a World Gifts update”

How to give better gifts this Christmas

Jack works for CAFOD. He has occasionally received Christmas gifts he didn’t like, but not from you, he loved yours. Here he mulls on the simple switch he (and his relatives) can make, so that Christmas is happier for everyone.

Making a Christmas list

Power rangers toys
Great fun for the 15 minutes they last before your dad steps on them.

Presents make a lot more sense when you’re a kid.

You’ve got no income, except maybe 50p here or there if your parents have deep pockets, or deeper sofa cushions. But you’re surrounded with stuff to want. The cartoons you watch, the comics you read – most of them are little more than adverts for a corresponding range of fluorescent plastic junk. So once a year you make a list and hope you get some of that junk for Christmas. And that’s fine. No-one minds. It’s cute. Because you’re a child.

Find the perfect charity gifts for all your relatives

Continue reading “How to give better gifts this Christmas”

Christmas in Gaza

Mary Lucas, our representative for the Middle East, describes what life is like for one young boy living in Gaza.

mohammed-standing-in-his-destroyed-home-gaza
Mohammed’s home was destroyed in the 2014 conflict in Gaza

Mohammed was just nine when he and his sister, Doha, were orphaned. It was a hot summer in 2014 and the people of Gaza were struggling to survive an extreme military bombardment. Apartment blocks were falling in clouds of dust throughout the territory. Some nights, entire neighbourhoods were given a few minutes’ warning to leave – fleeing their homes to find safety wherever they could.

Donate to our Advent Appeal

Mohammed’s family had to leave their home as it wasn’t safe. They were evacuated to a nearby school and like so many caught up in the conflict, struggled to get the essentials. Water pipes were damaged and food was expensive and running low in shops because of the bombing.

To ensure the family could survive, Mohammed’s parents would wait until there was a ceasefire and run to collect water and food.

That day, they decided to check on the house that they had spent years investing in for their family. As they approached the house, an explosion killed them both instantly. Shortly afterwards, another bomb reduced the house to rubble. Continue reading “Christmas in Gaza”

Giving a charity goat this Christmas? All you’ve ever wanted to know about CAFOD World Gifts

World Gift goat kids in Ethiopia
A World Gift goat can provide nutritious milk for families in developing countries

With just over two weeks until Christmas, Sally Kitchener in our communications team answers some of your questions about World Gifts – CAFOD’s virtual charity gifts.

With many of my friends and family searching for practical, ethical and meaningful presents this Christmas, I’ve found myself talking a lot about CAFOD’s World Gifts. And it turns out that Christmas charity gifts, especially virtual goat gifts, bring up some rather tricky questions.

Browse CAFOD’s World Gifts

So, I’ve been finding out the answers to your top three goat gifting queries.

1. Will I find a goat on my doorstep?

When you buy a World Gift, whether it’s a goat, mosquito net, or drought-resistant seeds, the gift isn’t sent to you, but to poor communities and families in developing countries. So if you’re buying the gift on behalf of a friend, don’t worry, they won’t end up with a goat on their doorstep one morning. Instead you can send them a card that explains which gift has been bought in their name. Continue reading “Giving a charity goat this Christmas? All you’ve ever wanted to know about CAFOD World Gifts”

I’m dreaming of a livesimply Christmas…

Livesimply sign at Our Lady and St Edward's church, Lancaster diocese
Livesimply sign at Our Lady and St Edward’s church, Lancaster diocese

This year, CAFOD supporter Stephen Garsed is encouraging fellow parishioners at Our Lady and St Edward’s parish in Preston, to think about living simply and loving abundantly this Christmas. Here are his top six suggestions…

The word we hear so often in the weeks before Christmas is ‘tradition’. It is particularly promoted by the glossy magazines who like to sell us the concept of ‘the perfect Christmas’.

But do we want Christmas to be about things or about family? As the TV adverts encourage us to spend more, my mind turns to thinking of ways we can celebrate Christmas in a simple, more environmentally-friendly and loving way. Continue reading “I’m dreaming of a livesimply Christmas…”

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”

What Advent means to me

CAFOD volunteer Trevor Stockton, from St Anthony of Padua parish in Wolverhampton, reflects on the significance of Advent in his life, past and present.

Trevor Stockton speaking at a Romero Mass in St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham
Trevor Stockton speaking at a Romero Mass in St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham

Advent was a word I didn’t know about until I started going to church in my teens. The period before Christmas and Christmas itself really took on a new meaning for me thereafter.

Before then, as a child in a working class family in the 1940s, Christmas was simply all about having a few treats that we didn’t get all year round. Having an ordinary stocking filled with nuts, dates, a tangerine and other similar luxuries was amazing.  A few, and I mean a few, simple presents followed by a family Christmas meal made the day. There was no television and the day continued with playing games. So, the weeks before Christmas were spent in anticipation of this special time.

Now, Advent means trying to put the religious significance into perspective against a backdrop of a society which seems to see Christmas as a purely commercial, money-making, money-spending time, whatever the cost to self, others and the environment.

Follow our Advent calendar for daily reflections on the Scriptures throughout the season

After I have had the annual tussle with myself about the negatives of this commercial approach, Advent’s true significance to me is as a time of preparation for the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus – who forms the basis of our Christian faith.

Continue reading “What Advent means to me”

World Gifts: why I’m asking for alternative presents this Christmas

IMG_7847
Bernadette in Nicaragua with CAFOD

Bernadette Goddard took part in the Step into the Gap programme last year. In this blog she describes why the work of partners in Nicaragua inspired her to ask for World Gifts as Christmas presents this year.

As Christmas approaches every year I am asked the question what would I like. It’s a double question for me as my birthday is just five days before Christmas, on 20 December. Each year I receive many gifts, often ones which, if I’m honest, I don’t need or use. In previous years I’ve asked for things which would be useful. Last year I was about to embark on a life changing trip with CAFOD to Nicaragua and people helped with my kit list, buying me useful items to take with me such as torches and plug adapters! This Christmas I have decided to appeal to family and friends on social media to buy World Gifts.

Continue reading “World Gifts: why I’m asking for alternative presents this Christmas”

Hands On supporters: building an emotional bond

Daniel Collins works in CAFOD’s Fundraising team focussing on our Hands On initiative.

Stella and her family - Kitui, Kenya - CAFOD
Stella and her family who live in Kitui, Kenya

One of the most exciting parts of my job is working on Hands On – a scheme which enables you to support a specific community as they undertake an ambitious project that will change their lives. Our first project in Kitui, Kenya, started one year ago, and aims to bring water to the community by transforming the local landscape.

Read blogs from Kitui

One of the really interesting things about Hands On is that, because people’s donations go towards one specific project, and because we gather lots of information about the project to send out to Hands On supporters every month, it really creates a strong emotional bond between the Catholic community here in England and Wales and the community in Kitui. Something I have been very keen to do is to find ways for supporters to send their own messages of encouragement to Kitui.

Last Christmas everyone who had donated to Hands On was sent a card with a message from Kitui and a postcard where they could add their own personal Christmas message in response. The postcards were then sent on to Kenya where they were shared with members of the community and our local partners.

I was delighted by how many hundreds of people took up the opportunity, and was deeply touched by the messages people chose to send. I would like to share a few of these messages with you now. Continue reading “Hands On supporters: building an emotional bond”