A small boy has five loaves and two fish. Jesus blesses them and ensures that all in the crowd can eat. Volunteer Trevor Stockton reflects on what this gospel story (John 6:1-15) means for us in a world where so many people still go hungry.
When Laura Storr from CAFOD’s communications team heard how new mum Unity from Zimbabwe was struggling to breastfeed – she knew only too well how difficult it could be. As we look forward to Mother’s Day, she shares her own breastfeeding story and explains how you can help more mums get the specialist support they need by donating this Lent.
It’s 10pm and I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter Rosa on and off for the last five hours. Rosa was born two weeks ago, and every time she tries to feed, which is about 10-12 times a day, my body tenses with pain. At times, its so painful, I cry out. And she rarely seems satisfied. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. And I’m worried that she isn’t putting on weight.
Later that night, I remember that I was given a bunch of leaflets, including information about a breastfeeding support group a short walk from my home in north London. Later that evening, I dig them out, and make an appointment for the next available session.
This Lent you may have heard about Tawanda from Zimbabwe and how hungry he was as a child. You may have heard how CAFOD helped Marian to plant a vegetable garden and how Tawanda’s little brother Svondo grew up with plenty of good food. But what happened to Tawanda?
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Tawanda. I’m 21 years old and I live in Gokwe North District with my mum, dad, two brothers and little sister.
What was your childhood like?
When I was younger, I remember being so desperate, we’d eat anything. We ate roasted groundnuts with sadza. It’s not something I’d recommend. It’s like eating salt.
What are you doing now?
I have my own vegetable plot at the community vegetable garden. I farm the plot so I can sell vegetables to buy things like clothes and shoes. I enjoy working on the plot – it’s my only way of earning money.
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.
We are Hal and Cherrie from London based east-meets-west electronic pop group Ooberfuse.
Hal could not really think of many specific food items that start with “H” aside from ham, hamburgers and halloumi so he thought he would just go for all “Hot” food and “Hot” drinks. This will be a real daily challenge as Hal loves his hot tea and drinks tea at least 7 times a day!
Cherrie will give up all food starting with ‘CH’ – CHicken, CHocolate, CHeese, CHips and CHerries etc.
She absolutely loves chocolates – she is a certified chocoholic, so the #Giveitupchallenge will be a tough everyday challenge for Lent. Usually post gigs and rehearsals, we all go out for fried chicken and chips, so this will be something that will need to change too.
Olwen Maynard has been at CAFOD for over thirty years. While reviewing project files to see what’s worked and what didn’t, she’s often amazed to see the difference that’s been made to people’s lives. On the International Day of Rural Women, Olwen shares Karima’s story.
Thumbing through CAFOD’s file on the Workers Advice Centre (WAC) in Israel, I was most surprised to see we’ve been supporting their work now for ten years. Roni Ben-Efrat, one of the amazing Israeli women who got WAC started back in the 1990s, argues convincingly that lasting peace in the Middle East is impossible until all the people living there can make a decent living. Many Arab families in the area known as the Triangle, a remote and largely rural part of northern Israel, live below the poverty line. It’s not easy to find jobs at all, and it’s especially hard for housewives and mothers, almost all of whom left school without any qualifications. WAC requested support from CAFOD to help them move into paid employment, and we agreed.
Karima Yahya was in her early forties, with six children old enough not to need her constantly around, and a husband who’d undergone heart surgery and was no longer able to work. With no money coming in, they were sinking further and further into debt. Then she met Wafa Tiara.
Your Harvest donations are a vital lifeline for people all over the world. Last Harvest we introduced you to a community in Bolivia and invited you to join them in their journey towards an abundant harvest. One year into the project, Nikki Evans, CAFOD’s Bolivia Programme Officer, revisits one of the families you have helped.
In March 2017, a drought in east Africa, combined with terrible violence between the government and rebels, had created a famine in South Sudan. One of CAFOD’s staff based in the country, Emergency Programme Manager Michael O’Riordan, visited people in March to give out food. At that time he reflected on the emotion and power of the experience.
A haunting refrain
When I was leaving Yirol in central South Sudan following a food distribution, an elderly gentleman in his late 60s kept asking why he wasn’t on the list to receive food. He couldn’t work and therefore couldn’t earn a living. Clearly disabled and using a walking stick, he kept pleading “why am I not deserving?”.
This haunting refrain has echoed in my ears ever since. It is not that he is not deserving; we just don’t have enough for everyone.
Having returned to this community after just a few months since the last food distribution, we found a bad situation far worse than we could have imagined. Although we are responding as best we can, it is beyond our ability to meet all needs.
I met Mary in the small village of Billing in South Sudan. It took a long time to get here – we travelled for over a day, through several towns and along dusty earth roads. You have to take a UN flight to Bor where you wait for a helicopter to take you across the Nile.