The team of Step into the Gap volunteers have been running sessions, retreats and activities with young people this term on refugees. We asked Kezia and Juliette to tell us a bit about their favourite resources.
Placing yourself in a refugee’s position is so difficult. Over the past month I’ve been trying to help young people experience what it’s like to leave your home, to feel the emotions and make decisions that some refugees have to make.
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.
Welcome to our new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers! Read on to find out about their placements and what inspired them to join the programme.
Caroline Collins. Newman University, Birmingham
I’m Caroline and I’m based at Newman University in Birmingham. I first found out about CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme when I did my first gap year at The Briars Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I studied Human Geography at university, and since then my passion for social justice has grown. My degree allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the inequalities faced across the globe. As I was approaching the end of my studies, I realised I wanted to raise awareness and put my faith into action through working with CAFOD.
Isabel Marsh, who is currently on placement at St Cassian’s Centre, reflects on her time in El Salvador before she embarks on her fundraising journey 0 the Colchester half marathon.
Less than 12 hours after arriving in El Salvador, our group set off for the University of Central America (UCA) to meet with one of CAFOD’s partners. The UCA is a private university, meaning they are able to charge fees for students (but there are several scholarships and bursaries available) and are not reliant on government funding. This has meant the University has more autonomy and does not need to follow the views of the government, providing it with an independent and non-biased voice.
We were led to the Social Outreach Vice-Rectorate, for our meeting with Omar Serrano, the Vice-Rector. We spent the morning with Omar and his colleague Eduardo. Omar shared with us about El Salvador – its history; politics; society and social norms and economy.
Our team of Step into the Gap volunteers are about to depart for their overseas trips to either Sierra Leona or Nicaragua and El Salvador. We asked them how they are feeling and how they are preparing for their trips.
Kayleigh, Christopher, Siobhan and Hannah are travelling to Sierra Leone.
Kayleigh is on placement at The Briars youth residential centre in Nottingham diocese
At The Briars we use our morning prayer time and workshop sessions to help young people be aware of many of the issues facing communities in Sierra Leone, for example, recovering from the recent landslide.
When I get back from visiting Sierra Leone I will get the opportunity to visit groups of young people and share what I’ve learnt, and I am so keen to get out there to tell them about the people of Sierra Leone, as I already know that they are invested in what I will be seeing and who I will be meeting. I cannot contain my gratitude and excitement and I truly acknowledge that this programme is a once in a lifetime.
Margaret Hodgson is a CAFOD school visitor and has been inspiring children to Brighten Up for Harvest Fast Day.
Are you planning to get involved with CAFOD’s Brighten Up event next week? St. Bede’s school in Darlington wanted to learn more about CAFOD’s work in El Salvador and invited me in to help them plan a Brighten Up fundraiser. It was the first time they had invited CAFOD into their school and so I was more than delighted to visit!
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.
Jo Walker is a teacher at St Anthony’s primary school, and this term her pupils have been learning about renewable energy and writing messages as part of the Power to be campaign.
Solar energy allows children like Veronica to have a good education so they do well at school and to do well in the future. Please help all children to have the power to be the best person they want to be. Solar power is healthy for the earth and can help fulfill dreams – St Anthony’s pupil
We introduced CAFOD’s Power to be campaign with our Year 5 children and it was a huge success! The children were engaged throughout and were really affected by the content. They found the story of Veronica so moving, learning how solar energy has transformed the life of her community, helping more children study, and being able to compare her daily life with their own provided them with a really powerful stimulus for the activities, and children wrote hopeful messages to Veronica.
Rachel Mannix is a CAFOD volunteer who has written and performed her spoken word poetry for CAFOD. Inspired by her faith, Rachel explains how she learned a new form of prayer.
Growing up there have been so many times that I’ve come home after an incredible experience of God and thought, “What next?”
During special events, like youth conferences, the atmosphere is electric and you feel so connected and strengthened in your faith but then when it is over you get a feeling of withdrawal from that community and spirituality – you can feel lost, deflated and on your own.
It can be really difficult to keep the momentum going when you are faced with your normality but I’m learning more and more that God doesn’t ask us to do that on our own. He wants to be a part of our day-to-day lives and I don’t want to just have a relationship with Him when I’m at an event, but all the time.