Brighten Up: Buzzing with fundraising ideas

Margaret Hodgson is a CAFOD school visitor and has been inspiring children to Brighten Up for Harvest Fast Day.

Find brighten Up resources for primary schools
St Bede’s are brightening up this 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!

Book a CAFOD visitor for your school

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World Gifts for Father’s Day – All my dad wants is a smile

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.

African girl holding the goat she received from CAFOD
Buy the World Gifts Goat that gives and bring a smile to the lives of others

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.

Browse CAFOD’s charity gift range of unusual presents 

Continue reading “World Gifts for Father’s Day – All my dad wants is a smile”

Giving thanks for our little one by helping other babies

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.

My son's Baptism invitation card with the World Gifts sticker on it
My son’s Baptism invitation card with the World Gifts sticker on it

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.

Browse our Baptism World Gifts

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The fish – a symbol of hope

Kathleen O’Brien writes our resources for secondary schools, and has been thinking about our scaly underwater friends during Lent.

What does the fish symbol mean?
What does the fish symbol mean?

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.

Meet Bob the fish from Zambia Continue reading “The fish – a symbol of hope”

Two years on – what your Lent 2015 donations achieved

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.

Naomi in Kenya
Naomi has been shown ways to cope with the changing climate in Kenya

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.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, so all can flourish Continue reading “Two years on – what your Lent 2015 donations achieved”

Fish fayres and fish prayers: learning about Zambia in school

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.

See how children and young people have been fundraising this Lent

Continue reading “Fish fayres and fish prayers: learning about Zambia in school”

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.

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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

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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.

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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”

Bishop John Arnold visits our friends in Puentecitos.

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.

Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold visits Connect2 El Salvador
Closing ceremony of the women’s workshop

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.

Find out more about Connect2 El Salvador.

Continue reading “Bishop John Arnold visits our friends in Puentecitos.”

Pilgrim Judith’s symbol of suffering is also one of hope

Judith Tooth with the Lampedusa Cross
Judith Tooth with the Lampedusa Cross

This year, November marks the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Leah Parker-Turnock spoke to one CAFOD supporter, Judith Tooth, who was inspired by her faith to undertake a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to stand in solidarity with refugees.

Central to Judith’s pilgrimage were those affected by the global refugee crisis. “Walking a pilgrimage can be challenging,” said Judith. “But it’s nothing compared to the perilous journeys so many refugees face. As I walked the long, hot road, I tried to imagine being on such a journey, and, worse, being separated from my four children, not knowing when, or even if, I’d see them again. It was unbearable to think about. And thousands of families are still trying to escape war, poverty and persecution, often only to be met by hostility and further hardship.”

Judith carried a special cross on her journey – the Lampedusa cross. In 2013, hundreds of refugees who were fleeing Eritrea and Somalia drowned off the coast of Lampedusa. Francesco Tuccio, a carpenter from the small Italian island, was moved to gather the driftwood from the wrecked boats and turn them into crosses. He offered the crosses to survivors as a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope.

Learn more about the Lampedusa Cross 

The cross was also a powerful symbol for Judith throughout her pilgrimage: “I fixed the 30cm cross to my backpack along with my scallop shell – the symbol of the pilgrim route. Fellow pilgrims were profoundly moved when I explained to them that the carpenter had offered the crosses he’d made to survivors as a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope, and that I was carrying one of those crosses to continue that message of hope.

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