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

Continue reading “CAFOD director: “Lent and Lent Fast Day is a unique time for reflection””

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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Meet some of CAFOD’s inspiring Candlelight families

Susanna Webb, CAFOD Candlelight Funds Officer, talks about some of the special families who remember a loved one with a Candlelight Fund

I’ve worked in CAFOD’s Legacy and Remembrance giving team for nearly 8 years and without a doubt the real privilege is hearing from so many families who are creating hope amidst their grief.

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Candlelight Funds are a way of paying tribute to someone special while also raising money for men, women and children living in poverty around the world. Over the course of the last 10 years, more than 600 people and families have decided to remember their loved one with gifts to CAFOD’s work.

Here you can read about how some of those families have paid tribute to their loved ones while also building a brighter future for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Find out more about CAFOD’s Candlelight Funds

Continue reading “Meet some of CAFOD’s inspiring Candlelight families”

Step into the Gap: Harvest fundraising at St Mary’s

Hannah, our gap year volunteer at St Mary’s Academy in Blackpool is getting ready for a Brighten Up event for Harvest. Here are her tips for a great fundraiser.

The Chaplaincy Team at St. Mary’s are Brightening Up for Harvest Fast Day this year with a handful of activities for students and staff to get involved in throughout the week. These include quizzes, fairground games and taste tests! The grande finale of the week will be a Staff Talent Show, taking place at lunchtime so that the students can buy tickets to see it.

Find resources to organise your own Harvest Fast Day fundraising

The staff at St. Mary’s are clearly a talented bunch, they’ll be showing off their breakdancing, singing, musical instruments and will even perform some drama! Our students are in for a treat as they’ll be Brightening Up their school uniform with colourful accessories and CAFOD wristbands.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap: Harvest fundraising at St Mary’s”

Harvest Fast Day: happy apthapi!

Looking for fundraising event ideas for Harvest Fast Day? Nikki Evans is CAFOD’s programme officer for Bolivia, and in this blog describes the Bolivian tradition of holding shared community picnics. 

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A Bolivian apthapi in the Andes.

In Bolivia, when Andean communities or families come together to share the food together, this is called an apthapi (pronounced “ap-tappy”).  The tradition of apthapi was born in the countryside in the Andes in Bolivia where people brought the food they had produced on their land and from their animals during the time of year when the food was in season.

At an apthapi organised by CAFOD partners, the women of the community arrive with a large brightly-coloured shawl filled with food to share. There are always potatoes, chuño (freeze dried black potatoes) and broad beans. Usually people bring a salsa with tomatoes and onions to enjoy with the food. Sometimes families have made cheese, boiled some eggs or cooked some fish if they live near Lake Titicaca – it depends on the food available.

Find resources to organise a Harvest Fast Day event in your parish.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: happy apthapi!”

Great Generation: Faith in Action award

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Julia is making new year resolutions for September!

Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team shares her news year’s resolution for the new academic year and shares how young people can do their CYMED Faith in Action Award volunteering with CAFOD.

“The times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’ but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced.” Pope Francis, World Youth Day, 2016.

I’ve made a new year’s resolution… I need to go to World Youth Day! Even though by Panama 2019, I’ll be (just!) out of the age bracket, I’ll have to find a group to go with. I know I’ll make it one day!

Download CAFOD resources to support your CYMFED Faith in Action award

Each person I speak to who was in Krakow this year has something amazing to say: ‘Exhilarating’, ‘electric’, ‘joy-filled’. ‘The Pope said some really inspiring and challenging things’. ‘WYD’s about our relationship with Jesus and what we do about that. To be a couch potato or to be active.’

An amazing group of young adults went to WYD in Rio in 2013 with CAFOD – volunteers from the UK alongside CAFOD partners in Brazil including Marianne and Maristely.

You can’t help but feel the energy and inspiration.

Continue reading “Great Generation: Faith in Action award”