Exploring the refugee crisis with young people

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.

Kezia

CAFOD gap year volunteers 2018/2019
Kezia

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.

Find refugee resources for young people

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Why are young people at the heart of what we do?

Chris Knowles works in our education team. In this blog he explains why young leadership is essential to CAFOD’s work.

Our new Hands On project in Colombia has young leadership at its heart because young people are not just the future of our world, but as Rosana, involved in the project in Colombia says;

“We have a responsibility towards our country, we are the present”. Rosana

Read about our latest Hands On project

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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.

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Step into the Gap: Meet the new team of volunteers!

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

CAFOD gap year volunteers 2018/2019
Caroline

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.

Work with young people? Explore our resources

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Step into the Gap: Inspired by education

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.

There is still time to apply to Step into the Gap 

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.

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Step into the Gap: Preparing for our travels

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

Kayleigh is on placement at The Briars youth residential centre in Nottingham diocese

Gapper kayleigh is travelling to Sierra Leone
Kayleigh

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.

Applications are now open for Step into the Gap 2018. Apply now

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Brighten Up: Buzzing with fundraising ideas

Margaret Hodgson is a CAFOD school visitor and has been inspiring children to Brighten Up for Harvest Fast Day.

Find brighten Up resources for primary schools
St Bede’s are brightening up this 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!

Book a CAFOD visitor for your school

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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.

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Dear World Bank, build a brighter future for every child

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

St Anthony's take part in the Power to be campaign
Pupils at St Anthony’s learning about renewable energy.

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.

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Great Generation: Mountain top moments

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. 

Rachel Mannix before preforming her spoken word poem.
Rachel Mannix before preforming her spoken word poem.

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.

Learn how you can volunteer and make a difference in your community

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.

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