Gillie Drinkall is a CAFOD school volunteer who has been visiting schools in South London to talk about Zimbabwe, and to introduce the Lent Give it up challenge.
A primary school in South London. A very small boy approached me and apologised for not being at my previous assembly as he was in hospital. He then confided, with breathless excitement, “It’s my birthday in six days’ time!”. I wished him “Happy Birthday … in six days’ time” and turned to a slightly older boy who wanted to know how to give money to CAFOD as soon as possible. I was reminded how much I enjoy talking to small children.
I have scheduled visits to an unusually high number of schools this Lent to share stories from Zimbabwe and to talk about the Give it up challenge. As ever, until the first assembly unfolds, I am never quite sure how the children will respond. This time I was going to try and show all the schools the short film featuring Svondo and his mother Marian who live in Zimbabwe.
Margaret Hodgson is a CAFOD school visitor and has been inspiring children to Brighten Up for 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!
Rachel works on World Gifts at CAFOD. She tells us why she buys her dad a World Gift for Father’s Day and how it makes them both smile.
I sadly don’t see my dad very often, so every year I try extra hard around Father’s Day. Really I think we both see it as an excuse for the shops to make money and sell a lot of stuff we don’t need! So, I arrange to see dad, but first, I always ask him if there’s anything he’d like as a present. I try not to always buy chocolates as he could do with losing a pound or two (!) – I suggest a book, a ticket to an exhibition, but he insists that all he wants is a smile.
Working on World Gifts at CAFOD has given me lots of new ideas for ways to show my dad that I appreciate and love him and make him smile. Plus, I know my gift’s helping someone who’s in real need, and bringing a smile to their face too! Here our some of our best charity gifts for dads.
Julia, who works at CAFOD, shares how her reflections on the lives of others around the world changed with the experience of being pregnant with her first child.
Living in the UK, I knew that if there were any problems with my baby that I would immediately receive the care I needed. I chose to buy World Gifts for my son’s Baptism as a way of giving something back to those living in poverty.
Kathleen O’Brien writes our resources for secondary schools, and has been thinking about our scaly underwater friends during Lent.
How often do you notice those fish symbols on the back windscreen of cars? I see them all the time. I think most people now realise that they are a Christian symbol, but perhaps don’t know why. They may think the fish is used because Jesus’ first followers were fishermen.
Thanks to your generosity during CAFOD’s Lent 2015 Appeal, the UK government matched your donations, giving £5 million to help families cope with the changing climate. David Mutua, CAFOD’s news officer based in Nairobi, visited one mother in Kenya who has benefited from your kindness.
On the leeward side of the rolling hills of Samburu in Kenya, a cock crows as the rays of the rising sun cut across the landscape of Nomotio village. Naomi, 31, is already awake, and getting her three young children ready for school. After a light breakfast, Naomi bids them farewell and busies herself with the daily chores.
Find out how CAFOD school volunteers Patrick and Isobel from the Portsmouth diocese have been inspiring children with stories about Florence and Bob the fish in Zambia this Lent.
“ It is truly heart-warming that our children have the ability to understand hardship, see injustice and unfairness and appreciate that they can play a practical part in making life for others just a little bit fairer.”
Introducing Bob the fish
We were introduced to ‘Bob’ the fish and Florence at our school volunteer training day in February, and we were impressed by the story and the idea of this project. The theme for this year’s Lent Fast Day was ‘Turn little fish into Big Fish’ and it focused on a community in Zambia which has been supported by CAFOD, working with local, expert partners, Sister Yvonne and The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Bob the fish really appealed to the children, and we were inundated with volunteers when we asked for children to help stock our ‘bucket-pond’ with tiny fish. Children came up with a wide variety of fundraising event ideas which included buying little fish to fill a net, covering a large cut-out of ‘Bob’ in coin scales and paying to wear odd-combination clothes in school.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.