Lost Family Portraits: Photographing the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon

Dario Mitidieri in Bekaa Refugee Camp, Lebanon
Dario Mitidieri in Bekaa Refugee Camp, Lebanon

Dario Mitidieri began his career as a professional photographer in 1987 working for The Sunday Telegraph and The Independent newspapers. In his long and illustrious career, he has travelled to Tiananmen Square in Beijing to witness the army repression of students. He has also photographed the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Iraq War, the 2005 Tsunami in Indonesia and the Kobe Earthquake in Japan. He recently travelled to the Bekaa valley, Lebanon, with CAFOD and creative agency M&C Saatchi where he worked on studio-styled portraits of twelve families who have fled the conflict in Syria.

It is early – just before eight, but winding through the steep hill side roads of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, there is a frenzy of building work: hotels and luxury apartments going up. This ancient, open city is alive.

Once we leave the concrete landscape behind us, the undulating hills of the Bekaa valley – Lebanon’s agricultural pulse and once the ‘breadbasket of the Roman Empire’ – come into view. Overnight there has been a first dusting of snow on the hills.

Just over the mountain ridge, some nine kilometres away is the border with Syria.

I’m heading to a Syrian refugee camp, with CAFOD and its partner, the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre.

Just before Christmas, I came together with CAFOD, the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre and the creative agency, M&C Saatchi, to work on a unique project to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees: Lost Family Portraits.

See some of the Lost Family Portraits

The idea is to take a pop-up studio and set it up in some of the camps and take family portraits of Syrian refugees, with empty chairs symbolising the loved ones they have left behind or lost due to this horrific six-year war. Continue reading “Lost Family Portraits: Photographing the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate

Katy Lowrey is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Zimbabwe. Here she writes about how vital birth certificates are to families and how difficult it can be for children to get one.

Katy is one of CAFOD's gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe
Katy is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe

We have been in Zimbabwe now a week and we have visited two different partners. Both have shown me so much: about life in Zimbabwe, an insight into the difficulties faced by organisations such as Mashambanzou and Mavambo – two of our partners – and the reality of what life is like for people living in poor communities.

Support people affected by climate change

One thing that has really stood out and shocked me and made me think is something that before this trip I would never have really thought of as being important in my life. What I have learned is that every child needs a birth certificate. Without it they cannot go to school, they cannot take exams, they cannot apply for an ID and they cannot vote. Therefore this means this child will grow up to be a human being without any rights, it takes away their dignity. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The power of a birth certificate”

Step into the Gap Peru – Advocacy at the local level

Alice and Michelle are currently in Peru, visiting communities CAFOD works with as part of the Step into the Gap programme. This is their first blog about their stay and some of the people they have spent time with so far.

Luz first came into contact with CAFOD partner Warmi Huasi as a mother when they were running a child nutrition programme. Now she works for Warmi Huasi and continues to support parents and children to live with dignity, know their rights, and be treated fairly.

Michelle

CAFOD's Step into the Gap volunteers in Peru
CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Peru

It was so impromptu. I can’t even remember what we were talking to Luz about before. But then she started to tell us about the time she found out that a school in her area was mistreating its students. Luz wanted to campaign for a better learning environment for the students so she asked others for their help and support. At first, they were worried about the consequences and didn’t want anything to do with it – but with a little bit of encouragement, the campaign began. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Advocacy at the local level”

One Climate, One World: No power over rain or sun

U Than Win and his family
U Than Win and his wife Daur San Mhwe holding their children Elizabeth (left) and Kissnow (right).

CAFOD writer Mark Chamberlain talks about meeting a village leader in Myanmar and how changes in climate are affecting his community.

Speak Up for communities affected by a changing climate. Join CAFOD at Westminster on Wednesday 17 June

There is a calmness about U Than Win that can’t be learned. I sat on the floor in his small home – even the jungle around us seemed to wait in silence – waiting for the rains, waiting for him to speak.

“The village is here – in my heart”

The slightly built 51-year-old was thinking – deliberating an answer before delivering a typically succinct, quiet truth. “I do things first for my community” – a pause to make sure I understood every word – “then my family. The village is here” he pointed gently to his chest, “in my heart.”

His wife was quick to tell me that her husband is always working – always tending to people’s needs. “When he does relax” she said, looking at me directly, “it’s for five minutes at the most, then someone will come to our home asking for his help.”

She smiled before continuing. “Last year I was in hospital. I knew he was worried about the village – he wanted to be with me, but his duty is to help them. I held his hand and told him to stay with me.” Continue reading “One Climate, One World: No power over rain or sun”

Lent 2015: Why I’m doubling my baking

Cupcakes to raise money for CAFOD's Lent Appeal
Strawverry cupcakes to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

Laura works in CAFOD’s communications team in London. She tells us why she has decided to do double the baking this Lent to fundraise for CAFOD

I’ve always loved baking. But I’ve been doing a lot more since I became a mum. That’s why I’ve decided to double my baking this Lent to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal.

Since I had my son Alfie, who is now two years old, I’m at home in the evenings more anyway and I find baking a great way to relax and unwind after a busy day. Not to mention the treat of a home-baked cake that you get to share with your family at the end. And I like the thought of Alfie having a treat where I know exactly what’s gone into it, with no nasties.

Give to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

There’s something so calming about baking that I don’t find with other cooking. Maybe it’s the precise measurements and instructions that give me a sense of control in a chaotic world. Or that every time you take a freshly-baked cake out of the oven, you can’t help thinking that a little bit of magic’s happened. The sloppy mess that went into the tin transforms into a spongy, golden, morsel that smells deliciously of warm, sugary sweetness.

Fundraise in your parish or school with our Fast Day resources

Continue reading “Lent 2015: Why I’m doubling my baking”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Day visit to Murehwa

CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe send their latest update from their journey…

Kieron and Lizzie meet partners
Kieron and Lizzie meet CAFOD partners from ‘Sanitation to Success’

Today we were thrilled to be visiting our first CAFOD project in Murehwa, one hour north-east of Harare. On arrival we met with CAFOD partner, Caritas Harare and the Murehwa authorities. They told us about the Sanitation for Success programme that CAFOD supports, and that we’d be visiting throughout the day.

Learn more about CAFOD’s work in Zimbabwe

First up, we attended a training workshop for community health workers about the importance of good sanitation in communities. As it was the first meeting, we all took part in a ‘getting to know you’ exercise, which we really enjoyed. This showed us the importance of the programme facilitators taking the time to get to know the community health workers and likewise for the health workers to really get to know their communities, facilitating collaboration, understanding and strong teamwork.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Day visit to Murehwa”