Can £28 really stop a family going hungry?

Sally Kitchener, from CAFOD’s communications team, recently visited Zimbabwe. She tells us how hearing a mother’s story about hunger affected her.  She also shares some good news about vegetable gardens and invites you to help tackle malnutrition by donating to the CAFOD Lent Appeal.

A few months ago, I met Marian Magumise in her home in rural Zimbabwe. After packing the children off to school just after dawn, Marian invited me to sit in her cooking hut. The embers from the fire were still warm and the smell of porridge hung in the air.

Marian told me that she hasn’t always been able to give her children a meal before school. In fact, there have been countless times – months on end – when she has had not an oat or a grain to feed them.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

Continue reading “Can £28 really stop a family going hungry?”

Fasting: what it means to me

In preparation for Lent Family Fast Day, we asked Fr Nicholas Crowe some questions about Lent. He told us what fasting means to him and why fasting this Lent is a real opportunity for spiritual growth and love of neighbour.

What does fasting mean to you?

Let’s start by thinking about why fasting in a Christian sense is different from dieting. It is because Christian fasting comes from an act of faith. It is our faith that things can be different, that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are called to be a new creation.

So often our cravings and routines can become selfish and block out God and the needs of others. So we need Lent as a time to turn back to God, to make a special effort to let Jesus be the centre of our lives. I see Lent as an invitation to renew and deepen our conversion, a spiritual gym work out. However, in our Lenten gym, God’s grace lifts the weights and causes the real change in us. All we have to do is turn up.

Taking part in Family Fast Day is our way of turning up, of saying yes to God. Yes God, cause great change in me this Lent. Be bold enough to join the fast and let Jesus show you the injustice, the marginalised and the unloved that need you today.

Donate the money you save through fasting to our Family Fast Day appeal

Continue reading “Fasting: what it means to me”

CAFOD director: “Lent and Lent Fast Day is a unique time for reflection”

Chris Bain is CAFOD’s Director. Here he reflects on what CAFOD’s Fast Day means to him and why it is important to come together as a Catholic family this Lent.

72315
CAFOD Director Chris Bain with a CAFOD Young Leader

Here in Romero House, our Ash Wednesday Mass is rather special. There is a strong sense of community – we stand together, we pray together and we take Communion together. The Mass ends and many of us begin the first fast of Lent by sharing a simple lunch together. And unlike Carol Monaghan, the SNP MP attending a parliamentary committee just after her Ash Wednesday Mass, there is no awkwardness about wearing our ash crosses in our offices.

Eat a simple soup lunch and give what you save

Continue reading “CAFOD director: “Lent and Lent Fast Day is a unique time for reflection””

Fast Day: Three simple soups to share from our families

CAFOD Writer Mark Chamberlain collects three recipes from his colleagues to share with you in case you need inspiration for your Friday fast. Thank you to everyone involved!

Simple soups are all the rage here at CAFOD this Lent. I sat down with a colleague on Monday and we each shared some. If food was music, his was a clever symphony of kale and spinach. Mine was a panicked free-jazz improvisation on the theme of black beans and veg.

In advance of our fast on Friday together, here are three recipes from my wonderful colleagues’ families, just in case you needed inspiration.

Share a simple Fast Day soup lunch and donate what you save Continue reading “Fast Day: Three simple soups to share from our families”

The first Family Fast Day

CAFOD was founded when women from the National Board of Catholic Women, the Catholic Women’s League and the Union of Catholic Mothers organised the first CAFOD Family Fast Day in 1960. Mildred Nevile, who was involved at the time, shares her memories of this key moment in CAFOD history.

Women of the World, with Sr Alicia - CAFOD
The group who organised the first Family Fast Day, with CAFOD’s first partner, Sr Alicia.

When Fast Day first took place, many families saw it as an opportunity to practice giving something up – voluntarily – and for the sake of others.

In the early 1960s, the Catholic community was much less affluent than it is today. Many people had known hardship and poverty and had sympathy for those who were struggling to survive.

Sign up to CAFOD’s newsletter to hear more stories 

Frequently those opening the envelopes from Fast Day appeals were deeply humbled by the letters that accompanied donations. Continue reading “The first Family Fast Day”

Meet some of CAFOD’s inspiring Candlelight families

Susanna Webb, CAFOD Candlelight Funds Officer, talks about some of the special families who remember a loved one with a Candlelight Fund

I’ve worked in CAFOD’s Legacy and Remembrance giving team for nearly 8 years and without a doubt the real privilege is hearing from so many families who are creating hope amidst their grief.

carlyle-candlelight-fund

Candlelight Funds are a way of paying tribute to someone special while also raising money for men, women and children living in poverty around the world. Over the course of the last 10 years, more than 600 people and families have decided to remember their loved one with gifts to CAFOD’s work.

Here you can read about how some of those families have paid tribute to their loved ones while also building a brighter future for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Find out more about CAFOD’s Candlelight Funds

Continue reading “Meet some of CAFOD’s inspiring Candlelight families”

Human rights: Dignified burials in Peru

Bea Findley travelled to Peru with CAFOD as part of the Step into the Gap programme, and in this blog explains how our partners are working on human right issues.

Bea with Clotilde, who is supported by CEAS
Bea with Clotilde, who is supported by CEAS

I’m writing this blog today because the political conflict in Peru feels like more than just history to me now; I have a real understanding of what the people went through and the difficulties of the recovery.

CEAS are the social action group of the Peruvian Bishop’s Conference. I met two women, Bernadina and Clotilde who receive support from CEAS in response to their suffering during the internal political violence which ended in 2000.

During that terrible time, approximately 70,000 people were killed or disappeared. 75% of these were from rural areas and 73% were speakers of the indigenous language, Quechua. A terrorist organisation called Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) began the violence and the army responded with more violence.

There were horrific mistreatments of people and breaches of human rights: people were tortured, killed, displaced and disappeared. Both the Shining Path, the army and other armed groups were responsible. Nobody could be trusted.

Continue reading “Human rights: Dignified burials in Peru”

Refugee crisis: A message from Lebanon

Mark Chamberlain is a communications officer with CAFOD. He spent time with refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in December 2015. On International Families Day, he writes about meeting some of the families there.

Razir is a 40-year-old mother of five. It was just after 11 in the morning when I visited her tent.

She offered for me to sit down on the only blanket the family had. I declined, blew into my hands to keep them warm and chose the bare floor instead. It was like sitting on ice.

Send a message of hope to refugees today Continue reading “Refugee crisis: A message from Lebanon”

International Women’s Day: Working together for equality in Ethiopia

Yadviga Clark is CAFOD’s Gender Coordinator. Today, on International Women’s Day, she shares the story of Dawi from Ethiopia whose community is coming together to tackle challenges faced by women and girls.

Today is a day to honour the achievements of women and girls across the world. Very often I think how privileged I am to be born and live in a society where as a woman I feel safe, protected and have an opportunity to develop my full potential. I can freely exercise my rights to education, family life and a career. At the same time, on this particular day my thoughts are with thousands of women and girls who are deprived of their childhood, have no voice, no rights, are hungry, exhausted from hard work and are physically and emotionally abused.

Our Lent Appeal this year tells the story of Proscovia, a 14 year old girl who nearly had to stop going to school because she had to spend so much of her day collecting water. Our partners in Uganda repaired her village borehole and now Proscovia is able to continue with her education.

Please support our Lent Appeal today

For CAFOD, International Women’s Day  is a chance to celebrate the vision and bravery of women who are fighting for equality, their human rights and an end to poverty. The women we work with are trying to overcome the social, economic and political barriers which stop them reaching their full potential. In Ethiopia, our partner organisation HUNDEE is working with women, men and local leaders to empower women at home and in the community, with the aim of reducing harmful traditional practices and achieving greater gender equality in the community. The project supports women’s self-help groups and has set up community conversation forums to engage with the wider community.

Continue reading “International Women’s Day: Working together for equality in Ethiopia”

Lost Family Portraits: meeting Souraya’s family

Nana Anto-Awuakye is CAFOD’s World News Manager. She recently met families living in the Bekka refugee camp in Lebanon as part of CAFOD’s Lost Family Portaits project.

Nana with young refugee children
Nana playing with some of the young children at Bekka refugee camp

Last Christmas, various family members snapped away on their latest mobile phone cameras, and we all dutifully posed for the camera. I asked for the unflattering photos of me to be deleted, my sister refused saying, “It’s Christmas, and we are all together.”

Only a few weeks earlier I was in Lebanon’s Bekka valley, just nine kilometres from the Syrian border. I was working with our partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, the photographer Dario Mitidieri, and the creative agency M&C Saatchi to photograph family portraits of Syrian refugees inside some of the informal camp settlements in the Bekka.

See the Lost Family Portraits

Our arrival with the photography crew creates an air of excitement, as children run out from the labyrinth pathways in between the tented dwellings, as if the Pied Piper were calling them.

The camp leader, or ‘Chawish’ tells me: “Every family here has someone missing; they are either dead, kidnapped, or trapped.”

Continue reading “Lost Family Portraits: meeting Souraya’s family”