Meeting Edelmira ahead of Harvest Fast Day 2017

Tania works as Communications Officer in our Latin America Team.  Her role involves lots of opportunities to meet inspiring people like Edelmira, whose story of flourishing and achievement we are celebrating this Harvest Fast Day.

Donate to our Harvest Fast Day appeal

My first impressions of Edelmira when I met her in 2016, were of a friendly, welcoming woman, constantly busy. She was a little nervous of meeting me, a visitor from far away.  I was also nervous about visiting Edelmira.  CAFOD had sent me to interview her for our Connect2 El Salvador parish programme, and I was feeling the weight of responsibility!

Find out how your parish can join Connect2

Continue reading “Meeting Edelmira ahead of Harvest Fast Day 2017”

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

Continue reading “Brighten Up: Buzzing with fundraising ideas”

Blessed Oscar Romero’s influence continues today

To commemorate 100 years since the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, CAFOD PR manager Kemi Bamgbose spoke to several people who continue to be inspired by Romero’s  powerful legacy today.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador who was brutally assassinated in 1980.

Archbishop Romero was beatified in 2015 and today he is recognised across the world for his commitment to social justice – practically demonstrating the love of God by defending the rights of the poorest and most marginalised communities in El Salvador.

His life and legacy continues to inspire many people to be a voice for the voiceless. Meet those lives have been transformed by his work.

Rebecca Haile, Bangladesh Programme Officer, CAFOD

I first came across ‘A step along the way’ prayer when I was at school and then several years later when my Mum gave me a printed copy when I first considered moving into International Development after finishing University.

I even referenced this Romero-inspired prayer in my first CAFOD interview several years ago! The prayer really resonates with me and constantly reminds me why CAFOD’s work is so important and much needed.

As the poem sums up, we may not be able to solve every problem we face but there’s value in our contribution, no matter how small. And we might not see the fruits of our work in our lifetime but we’re building the necessary foundations for the future. This is a really humbling and beautiful sentiment.

Juan Garcia, Farmer, El Salvador

“Monseñor Romero spoke a lot for the poor. We went to his funeral in 1980. Some people came to tell our cooperative that the funeral would happen and took us there for free. I was there when the army started to fire on us. Monseñor Romero died for speaking the truth in favour of the poor. You felt he was a person who helped the poor. Everything he did was good. The president was doing a lot of bad things to us in the cooperatives, but Oscar Romero did things in favour of us. And for this, we love him.”

Find out more about the life of Blessed Oscar Romero

Bernadette Goddard, Seville, Spain

“I first came across Blessed Oscar Romero when I started volunteering with CAFOD almost 10 years ago. As part of my year with CAFOD step into the Gap I had the privilege of travelling to Nicaragua. There, I met the sisters, who were giving a voice to children, young people and women in poor and rural areas. Seeing this work in action reminded me of Romero’s compassion for the poor and his desire to be a voice for the voiceless.

After returning from Nicaragua a friend shared a profound Romero phrase which I now hold in my heart: “Each one of you has to be God’s microphone.” I have met many people in my life who have a voice which is not heard for whatever reason. As each of us are made in the image and likeness of God we have a responsibility to be a microphone of justice and peace for each other – just as Romero said.”

 Anthony, pupil

“I learnt about Archbishop Romero at schools and the values he lived by which inspired him to give his life to help the poor.  He was courageous because he needed to be brave to help other people. He also had hope because he had faith God even in a situation like the one he was in. Oscar Romero also had love because he loved the poor people enough to give his life for them.”

Take a look at our education resources on the life of Blessed Oscar Romero

Susy Brouard, Theology Programme Advisor, CAFOD

“I have seen the Romero film three times – the first being in my early 20s. The film had a profound impact on me. Romero is an inspiration for anyone and everyone. He was a traditional bookworm – the last person you would expect to get involved with challenging the government and the army. But following the murder of his good friend, Rutilio Grande and the increasing injustices he witnessed, he couldn’t help but act. Only God could have inspired him to put his life on the line in this way.

There are many things I admire about Romero but one of them was Romero regularly included the names of those who had been tortured and murdered in his homilies – such was his dedication. Romero was the voice of the oppressed. He inspired me to not only work for social justice but to work for CAFOD and to challenge the structures which oppress people and prevent human flourishing.”

Find out more about our Romero-inspired retreats happening this Autumn

Why should we protect human rights?

Our belief in the inherent dignity of every person calls us to protect the rights of everyone in our human family. We ask people from some of the organisations we work with why protecting rights is essential if everyone is to reach their God-given potential.

Speak out about human rights – become a campaigner with CAFOD

Continue reading “Why should we protect human rights?”

Fidel and Julia from our C2 El Salvador community reflect on Bishop John’s visit

Fidel and Julia live in Puentecitos, where they work improve life for their community with the support and solidarity of parishes in England and Wales through out Connect2:El Salvador programme. They asked us to share this advent message.

Dear Connect2 Puentecitos and CAFOD

We send warm greetings to all our friends working with CAFOD.

fidel-and-julia-blog-picture
Fidel and Julia in their home in Puentecitos

We were very happy that Clare and Bishop John came to our country, and especially that they came to visit us in our home, for Bishop John’s blessing on our family, with his hands that have been anointed by the Holy Spirit.  This will help us to grow in our faith.

Read Bishop John’s blog on his trip

We admire Bishop John’s vocation as a representative of Christ, and his sacrifice in travelling from a land so far away to visit our country and our home.  We feel blessed to have spent this time with a man who has given himself to God.

Continue reading “Fidel and Julia from our C2 El Salvador community reflect on Bishop John’s visit”

Bishop John Arnold visits our friends in Puentecitos.

In November 2016, the Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold, visited El Salvador and Nicaragua. The last stop of his 10-day programme was to visit our friends in Puentecitos. These are some of his reflections.

Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold visits Connect2 El Salvador
Closing ceremony of the women’s workshop

We set off for a day in the rural area of Guaymango in the Department of Ahuachapan. It was about a two-hour journey to the West, almost to Guatemala. The good roads lasted until just a few miles from Guaymango and the last couple of miles were really nothing more than a single track of unmade road.

The scenery, however, was magnificent with mountains and volcanoes dominating the plain which stretched across to the ocean, which was clearly visible. Everything here is green and manages to remain so for most of the year. Agriculture is the basis of all livelihoods here though factories and assembly plants are increasingly present, together with small hotels which are hoping to see an increase in the tourist trade, particularly for what is apparently excellent surfing. This part of El Salvador was not so much directly affected by the war (1980-92) but many young men here were “pressed” into the army. The area has suffered in recent years by the increasing control of gangs.

Find out more about Connect2 El Salvador.

Continue reading “Bishop John Arnold visits our friends in Puentecitos.”

12 Years of progress – CAFOD’s development work

Tania Dalton works in CAFOD’s Latin America Team. As we celebrate the success of our two year water project in Kitui, Tania reflects on the long-term development projects she’s been part of in her time with CAFOD, and their ongoing impact today.

CAFOD El Salvador Ana Manganaro Clinic staff
Some of the staff at the Ana Manganaro Clinic

I am blessed to work in CAFOD’s Latin America team: my life is constantly enriched by the people I encounter.  Seeing change over time is especially wonderful.  The Ana Manganaro Clinic in Guarjila, El Salvador, is a great example of taking the long view.  I visited it first in 2004, and again earlier this year.  In those twelve years, it transformed from a small building where community health workers received training in the yard, to a comprehensive rural health centre, with a maternity care unit, dentist, nutritionist, physiotherapist and other key health services.  In 2010, the clinic integrated with the Ministry of Health.  Now it serves 16,500 people across eight municipalities and is recognised as a model for rural health services.

Find out about our latest Hands On project in Bolivia

Marlene, my guide when I visited this year, helped me to appreciate fully the transformation of the clinic.

Continue reading “12 Years of progress – CAFOD’s development work”

Learning about climate in class

Katie Thilthorpe works in the CAFOD Schools Team. She recently received a batch of letters and work from children in XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire who have been exploring life in El Salvador.

Letter-to-El-Salvador
Letters to El Salvador

“After I saw your beautiful landscape I wished I could live in El Salvador but the only thing that makes me sad is the water pollution. That’s why we are raising money for your country and right now we have £500. When we raise enough we will send it to CAFOD and they will send it to you. I hope that you will have nice clean water and I hope to see you and the Sierra Madre mountains one day.” Olivia, Year 4.

Since its release in 2015 primary schools across England and Wales have been using CAFOD’s El Salvador geography photo pack, including XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire. All the children in the school aged 7-11 have been using the resources, and in March the pupils wrote letters to the four children featured in the pack. The school kindly sent some of the letters to us and I was lucky enough to read them.

Order your free copy of the El Salvador Education Pack

The El Salvador pack, which can be ordered or downloaded online, includes a country map, information sheets, photo cards and links to brilliant online films, which bring the stories and themes from the pack to life. Continue reading “Learning about climate in class”

Connect2: El Salvador: Renovating the Chapel in Puentecitos

chapel

In 2014  Fidel and Julia shared how the Connect2: El Salvador  community were starting to  renovate their chapel.  Since then, lots of work has taken place, and the chapel in Puentecitos looks very different now.  It is built of brick, rather than clay, which means it should be more resistant to earthquake damage, and it is also a lot bigger.  Fidel says: “We got the walls and roof on in about five months. We had some help to buy some of the materials, and the rest we raised ourselves by holding raffles and other fundraising activities.”

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Fidel outside the renovated chapel

There is still some work to be done: the floor is unfinished, and there is a bit of electrical wiring to finish too, but Fidel says, these are “finishing touches”.  They also plan to put a tabernacle on a shelf behind the altar and display the mementoes that Connect2 parishes have sent them.

The community are now working to keep it clean and to cover the cost of water and electricity bills.  On the wall of the chapel there is a rota for the year, sharing out these responsibilities amongst all the different families. Continue reading “Connect2: El Salvador: Renovating the Chapel in Puentecitos”

Harvest Fast Day: Behind the scenes of the Brighten Up film

Kathleen O’Brien is our secondary resources coordinator, leading on the material for young people this Harvest Fast Day.

Watch our Brighten Up Harvest film, and then read Kathleen’s blog about the making of it:

Bright peace building projects in El Salvador

If you visit the education webpages this Harvest you will be greeted by Isabel and Diego, two young people who explain what life is like in a gang-dominated area of El Salvador, and talk about how CAFOD partners are helping their community to create safe, bright spaces where children and young people can play, learn and meet with their friends.

Watch our film about Isabel

Watch our film about Diego

We really wanted to convey the brightness of this project in El Salvador, the brightness of the community, and the brightness of a hopeful future. So this Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world. To do this, we set about making a short, bright, fun clip to introduce the fundraising theme.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Behind the scenes of the Brighten Up film”