Step into the Gap: The power of renewable energy

As part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme, Sophie Bray met communities in Ethiopia. In this blog she talks about how access to a reliable water source and renewable electricity is transforming one community and giving hope to many others.

The group in Ethiopia.
The Step Into the Gap group in Ethiopia with CAFOD.

It was during the first week of February on our journey through Northern Ethiopia, when we travelled to a rural town in Mekelle called Lemlem.

After meeting the people who lived in the village, it soon became clear how access to a reliable water source and renewable electricity is transforming their community and giving hope to many others.

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Continue reading “Step into the Gap: The power of renewable energy”

Hands On: Water returns to Kitui

Africa-Kitui-Hands-On-community-wavingAbout this project: The community of Kitui in Kenya have spent two years working on a project to re-sculpt their landscape and bring back a sustainable supply of water. This has all been possible thanks to generous supporters in the UK. Our next project is beginning soon – find out more and get involved.

Over the last two years we have planted trees, dug terraces, built dams and learned everything necessary to bring safe water back to the Kitui community.

People’s lives will now be transformed – so many opportunities will open up now that people here don’t have to walk for many miles each day just to have enough to drink. Continue reading “Hands On: Water returns to Kitui”

Hands On Kitui: Into the final weeks

As we enter the last few weeks of our project, everywhere we look we are greeted by signs of transformation. Our dam and wells are filling, people’s gardens and our community farm are starting to produce harvests, and the landscape is so much greener than just two years ago.

Continue reading “Hands On Kitui: Into the final weeks”

Hands On Kitui: Looking to the future

About Hands On: Hands On is a special series of CAFOD projects, that are funded directly by supporters. Hands On Kitui is our first project, and although this is coming to an end, our newest project community are in need of support.

Find out more and get involved

February 2016 Kitui update

While work is continuing on the main dam and the other final improvements, as we approach the end of our project we can’t help but think further into the future.

With this in mind, some of our next steps will be to prepare everyone here for the years ahead, to ensure our successes continue for generations.

We will be providing training for the local management committee on project management and team-building, and working with local primary schools to set up a conservation club.

If you’re looking for inspiration, reflection and prayers this Lent, our Lent calendar has daily updates for the whole season. Continue reading “Hands On Kitui: Looking to the future”

Hands On Kitui: Happy New Year to all our supporters

Hello and a very happy New Year from everyone in Kitui. The end of our two year project is just a few months away and so we are hard at work ensuring that our project here will be a great success.

Those of you who are sent Side by Side will have received your special DVD – for those of you who are not, Here is this personal message from everyone in Kitui.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7cgErVEeSg?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0&w=560&h=315]

If you’d like to send a message back, please leave one in the comments! Continue reading “Hands On Kitui: Happy New Year to all our supporters”

Hands On in Kitui: Stella’s farm

Here in Kitui, the landscape is nearly unrecognisable, as more and more people are using their new hands on skills to improve their own land.

One such person is Stella, whose family have a small farm, and who has worked tirelessly to put all that she has been shown into practice. In this video she shows us around, and explains how her new skills are helping her farm thrive.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpK0ZjqT-qA?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0&w=560&h=315]

Continue reading “Hands On in Kitui: Stella’s farm”

Oscar Romero: The voice of the voiceless

Erasmo Valiente works with our partner Jesuit Development Service in El Salvador giving advice to farmers on how to keep crops healthy. In 2013 he visited Connect2 El Salvador parishes in England and was overwhelmed to discover that so many people in the UK have been inspired by the example of Archbishop Romero. His community in El Salvador is eagerly awaiting the beatification of Oscar Romero on 23 May when buses will take people from nearly every parish in the country to San Salvador and celebrations will be broadcast on television.

Find out more about Connect2:El Salvador

Erasmo at work in El Salvador
Erasmo training women who have started a small business making and selling coconut sweets

In El Salvador we refer to our martyr Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez as the voice of the voiceless.  We call him this because always his primary concern was to speak out for the most excluded members of society, denouncing social injustice and military repression.  His dedication to the poorest took the form of a pastoral conversion, and a spiritual commitment to lay down his life for the resurrection of our people.

His response to the death threats he received was, “If God accepts my life as sacrifice, my blood will be a seed of freedom”.  His preaching was always full of humility and peace, and constant communication with God, which gave him the strength and wisdom to speak the truth freely and with dignity in defence of human life.

Find out more Archbishop Oscar Romero

Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez knew that death was coming, but he chose not to escape the country; he stayed with his people, even after death.  “As pastor, I am obliged by divine order to give my life for those I love, that is all Salvadorans, even those who will assassinate me.  If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran People”. Continue reading “Oscar Romero: The voice of the voiceless”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Lizzie & Leila

Lizzie is working as a chaplain at Newman University and Leila is a volunteer at the Good Shepherd in Nelson, respectively. They are both visiting Zimbabwe as part of CAFOD‘s Step into the Gap programme.

We’ve spent the past week in the west of Zimbabwe, in a place called Binga. And what a week it’s been. We’ve visited so many great projects and met so many inspirational communities, it’s hard to know where to begin. So here are just a couple of highlights from our week.

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Lizzie says:

For me, Binga has been an extremely memorable and moving experience. In Siamtelele village, Moyo Mthatshelwa, a 49-year-old farmer, warmly welcomed us with a traditional lunch of sadza, goat’s intestines, spinach, groundnut maize, sour milk and crumbled bread, all produced off their farm. I was touched by the generosity of his family. Moyo explained that “CAFOD’s scheme is very nice to us farmers. You’ve assisted us well. We thank you very much. It will improve ourselves and will pay for school for my thirteen children and help develop our future”.

Moyo and other farmers have been helped by CAFOD
Moyo and other farmers have been helped by CAFOD

Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Lizzie & Leila”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Mary meets Mpofu

Mary is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers, and has been working with the Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. Here, she shares her story so far from her Zimbabwe visit:

Mary with Mpofu, a farmer in Zimbabwe
Mary with Mpofu, a farmer in Zimbabwe

Here in Zimbabwe we are learning more and more every day. The sun is always shining and hot and the people are so welcoming and friendly. This week we are staying in the rural area of Binga to visit the projects of CAFOD partner – Caritas Hwange.

Learn more about CAFOD’s work in Zimbabwe

Our visit yesterday was to a farm in Zuka – a two-and-a-half hour drive away from Binga over incredibly rocky roads, full of potholes as well as herds of goats and cows and the occasional baboon! It was fascinating to drive past traditional thatched roof huts of the rural villages, and see the women, men and children going to work and school.

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Getting Hands On in Kitui: the importance of trees

Do you have a New Year’s resolution to do more DIY? The people of Kitui do! Their project is about so much more than sprucing up their home – it will make a huge difference to their lives. And it’s possible because of you, and the 1,500 other people who have been getting hands on. Thank you.

We hope you have received your second postal update along with your copy of our Side by Side magazine. If you’ve misplaced your letter, or haven’t recieved it, you can download the January update now.

Please keep Kitui in your prayers as the hard work continues.

Progress and project highlights this month

Nicholas Oloo, CAFOD’s Programme Officer in Kenya is here to show us how the CAFOD Hands On project in Kitui will revitalise the landscape, and why trees are a crucial part of fixing the water supply.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSPu1twAxSM?rel=0&showinfo=0&w=640&h=360]

Continue reading “Getting Hands On in Kitui: the importance of trees”