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.
Looking for fundraising event ideas for Harvest Fast Day? Nikki Evans is CAFOD’s programme officer for Bolivia, and in this blog describes the Bolivian tradition of holding shared community picnics.
In Bolivia, when Andean communities or families come together to share the food together, this is called an apthapi (pronounced “ap-tappy”). The tradition of apthapi was born in the countryside in the Andes in Bolivia where people brought the food they had produced on their land and from their animals during the time of year when the food was in season.
At an apthapi organised by CAFOD partners, the women of the community arrive with a large brightly-coloured shawl filled with food to share. There are always potatoes, chuño (freeze dried black potatoes) and broad beans. Usually people bring a salsa with tomatoes and onions to enjoy with the food. Sometimes families have made cheese, boiled some eggs or cooked some fish if they live near Lake Titicaca – it depends on the food available.
Lucy Collins is Head of RE at Carmel College. In this blog she reflects on welcoming CAFOD volunteers to run workshops at school, and the impact of CAFOD’s training with teachers.
‘We love these sessions as we get to think about how our faith has such an impact on the lives of others and the world we live in. It makes it real and makes us realise we can actually make a difference, even if it is just a small one for now.’
– Student at Carmel College.
This year we welcomed back CAFOD for what have now become our annual workshops with Years 9 and 10, and we we were delighted that CAFOD would so readily support us by returning to our college.
CAFOD worked with us to create exciting activities which complimented our new GCSE specification preparations alongside current curriculum requirements. It was amazing how they were able to provide materials which allowed our students to access Church documents and encyclicals so easily and joyfully!
As a new term begins, CAFOD’s Elouise Hobbs spoke to young leader Jouriz, from Chertsey, about her experiences and advice for those thinking of taking part this September.
Over the last academic year CAFOD has worked with 245 young people from across seven dioceses as part of CAFOD’s young leadership programme. These young people spent the year learning about justice issues and developing leadership skills. Collectively they have reached around 65,000 people through their campaigning, speaking at Mass, fundraising, assemblies, blogs and tweets.
In the last academic year, Jouriz took part in the CAFOD young leadership programme; when I met her, she was presenting to lower forms from her school about the impact of CAFOD.
You recently attended the end of year Young Leadership celebration day with CAFOD. Do you have a moment that particularly sticks out for you?
“My favourite moment was actually at the beginning of the day. We had just arrived and as an ice-breaker we had to go round the tables and meet everyone. When we went around the tables with just a 30-second gap. It was so fast. I only had a short time to make a conversation and crack a joke. Even though it was only a short amount of time, it actually allowed me to get to know people really well. It was so much fun travelling up to London and getting to meet all the different people.”
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.
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?
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.