International Day of Peace – 21 September 2015

Tabitha Ross is a CAFOD freelancer who works in Lebanon. On International Day of Peace she tells us about Eman and Hanigal – two mothers who have been forced to leave their homes in Syria because of the ongoing conflict.

Eman’s story

Eman's nieces in Lebanon
Eman’s nieces in Lebanon

Sitting on a blanket on the grass in the warmth of the sun, Eman looks shell-shocked to find herself in Lebanon, safe from the fear of violence for the first time in nearly four years. When I meet her, she has been here just over two weeks.

Despite coming from Daraa, the region of Syria where the uprising first began on 15 March 2011, and which has seen bitter fighting and bombing, Eman only decided to flee the country this year.

I ask what was the final straw, after so much suffering, that pushed her to leave. With tears in her eyes she said: “At the start of the war my husband disappeared, so I didn’t want to leave because I had the idea that he would come back. But in February my house was bombed and destroyed, so I decided to come here.”

Please support our Refugee Crisis Appeal

Eman tells me how she and her four children spent three days on the road from Daraa to Damascus. Reaching the capital, they spent two nights sleeping in the freezing street. Finally a taxi driver took pity on them and brought them here to Lebanon, where she is staying with a cousin in an unfinished breeze block construction in the Bekaa Valley.

“I feel ashamed because I have no money and the family that I am staying with have barely any money either. Maybe we eat one day and then for three days we do not, because we don’t have the money to buy food,” she said. Continue reading “International Day of Peace – 21 September 2015”

Harvest Fast Day: Romero continues to inspire young people this Harvest

Kathleen (back row, far left) in El Salvador.
Kathleen (back row, far left) in El Salvador.

Kathleen O’Brien is in our schools team and coordinates resources for secondary schools.

Last February, I was privileged to be in El Salvador when the announcement came that Pope Francis had declared San Salvador’s one-time Archbishop, Oscar Romero to be a martyr, meaning that a date could be set for his beatification. There was great joy expressed by everyone we met that day. One of the Jesuits at the university said to us, “The whole of Latin America has been waiting for this event for thirty-five years!”

Watch our Romero film

Schools in England and Wales are familiar with the name ‘Oscar Romero’. Sometimes when our team visits a school we hear that ‘Romero House’ is the name chosen for one of the school house teams. That resonates with us, as we named our London office building ‘Romero House’ after our former CAFOD partner. Many pupils have learned about Romero’s life in RE lessons during Year 6 of primary school or in the first two or three years of secondary school.

That’s why, in this special year when Romero officially became ‘Blessed Oscar Romero’, we wanted to use El Salvador as the focus for our Harvest materials for schools. The materials look at the stories of Diego (8) and Isabel (15) from San Salvador.

Continue reading “Harvest Fast Day: Romero continues to inspire young people this Harvest”

Running and facepainting for CAFOD: young climate bloggers take action

St Roberts climate bloggers Our young climate bloggers are fantastic! They continue to inspire us with all they are doing to fundraise and raise awareness about climate change and the work CAFOD does with its partners. One of our schools, St Robert’s, has two groups that blog frequently about what they think and the action they are taking. Daniel tells how he was inspired to act:

I’m just a 15 year old boy who wants to make a difference and I decided in order to do that I needed to act. As an avid runner I decided that this might be a good way for me to make a difference: by fundraising, and I’m going to start fundraising for CAFOD by running. However you do not have to be good at this, you could swim, cycle even abseil!  Are you up to the challenge? It’s very easy to become part of Team CAFOD and to help fundraise!

Daniel is going to be running in the Great North 5K in September, so do sponsor him at his CAFOD fundraising page! And another group from St Robert’s talks about how they have been invited to help others in their school raise awareness and funds. Here’s just one example:

Continue reading “Running and facepainting for CAFOD: young climate bloggers take action”

Jo Joyner’s visit to Nepal: Part 3

Jo Joyner gives a traditional Nepali greeting
Jo Joyner gives a traditional Nepali greeting

About the author: Jo Joyner is an award-winning actress and CAFOD supporter whose work includes No Angels, EastEnders, Ordinary Lies and The Interceptor. In July 2015, Jo travelled to Nepal where she met communities who were severely affected by the devastating earthquakes and saw how crucial the work of CAFOD’s local partners had been in providing life-saving aid. In the third of three blogs, Jo writes about her experience. Read Jo’s first and second blogs.

Many of Nepal’s schools were decimated by the earthquakes and for safety reasons the government put a hold on all school attendance for a month. This was to give the authorities time to visit those schools that were still standing but fractured, to give them the official stamp from the engineers and approve them as safe enough to house the nation’s young minds.

People I met told me that there was relief that the initial earthquake happened on a Saturday because this meant that many of the children were either outside playing or working in the fields. Open space is the safest place to be when there is an earthquake and looking at the rubble of a school in the heart of the old town of Kathmandu, I shuddered at the thought of that massive earthquake happening during the week, when families were separated and the schools were full.

Donate to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal

A sanctuary amongst the ruin

We visited Mary Ward School in Kathmandu, which Caritas Nepal has been supporting for more than ten years. The girls at the school are the daughters of migrant workers from the countryside who have come to the city from rural villages.

Students at Mary Ward School
Students at Mary Ward School

The school is run by Sister Asha – whose name fittingly means ‘hope’. She has worked across South Asia for a lot of her formidable career, and when I asked her which country she preferred to work in, she replied sincerely, “I prefer to be where I am needed. I have God in my heart and do good work. So wherever I am, I am happy”.

The school is a sanctuary off a bustling, broken, dusty road. When the school’s iron-gates close the peaceful, plant-draped courtyard of Mary Ward School wraps its knowledgeable bricks around you.

We were greeted on arrival by an entire playground of immaculate students. I was instantly ashamed at the dishevelled state my twins are often in when they are thrown through the school gates – always late despite living on the doorstep. The students of this school were stood silently with radiant smiles, in pristine shirts and double plaits. They were proud. Proud to be dressed smartly. Proud to be clean and washed. Proud and hungry to once again be allowed to learn, read, write, sing and dance.

Continue reading “Jo Joyner’s visit to Nepal: Part 3”

Jo Joyner’s visit to Nepal: Part 2

Jo Joyner gives a traditional Nepali greeting
Jo Joyner gives a traditional Nepali greeting

About the author: Jo Joyner is an award-winning actress and CAFOD supporter whose work includes No Angels, EastEnders, Ordinary Lies and The Interceptor. In July 2015, Jo travelled to Nepal where she met communities who were severely affected by the devastating earthquakes and saw how crucial the work of CAFOD’s local partners had been in providing life-saving aid. In the second of three blogs, Jo writes about her experience. Read Jo’s first blog.

Kamala

I want to tell you about 35-year-old Kamala. A mother of three whose husband died in the earthquake, Kamala’s story will stay with me for a very long time.

Kamala is a Dalit woman, from the most socially excluded of more than 125 castes that exist in Nepal – one that we in the West may have heard of as ‘untouchables’. As such, Kamala and her children live outside a village on a patch of land, low down on the edge of the mountain. An unenviable location when the rain washes waste and rubbish from the village down to her door.

Donate to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal

Continue reading “Jo Joyner’s visit to Nepal: Part 2”

Neapolitan cooking to support CAFOD Lent Appeal

Mariacristina Lubrano works in the Digital team at CAFOD. She is a proud Neapolitan who is writing a cook book of recipes that she has learned from her grannies and mum since she was 13 years old. In her first ever attempt at fundraising for CAFOD, she has doubled her cooking for Lent and will give what she raises from selling her goodies to CAFOD Lent Appeal.

CAFOD Lent fundraising
Mariacristina, on the left, shares her Baba Rustico with her colleague Susan.

Making lunch for my colleagues: my Lent promise!

When I look back at the day I committed to my Lenten promise, I’m not sure what I was thinking…wait, I actually do! Because this year the UK government is matching every pound raised in support of our Lent Appeal, after some thought, I told my colleagues that I would double the amount of Neapolitan food from the recipe book I am writing and share it with them all to fundraise towards our Appeal.

I was so excited to know that my colleagues would taste some of the family recipes I grew up with and I was taught by my grannies and mum. But more importantly the idea of having double the impact on the lives of people like Martin and Kyin Nu and their communities in Myanmar meant the world to me and got me even more motivated towards my fundraising target. Continue reading “Neapolitan cooking to support CAFOD Lent Appeal”

Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges

Ffion baking
Ffion starting her Lent baking challenge

Having passed the half way point in Lent 2015 earlier this week, our Web Editor Ffion Dean updates us on how she and other CAFOD staff are coping with their Lent challenges.

When I realised we were only half way through Lent my heart sank a little. It feels like ages since the beginning of Lent. Does that mean it will feel like a long time until Easter for me and my colleagues who have taken on Lent challenges? I’ve heard office rumours of a few Lent set-backs but everyone is putting a lot of time, thought and effort into their challenges.

Watch our first Lenten journey video to find out what some CAFOD staff have been cutting out and doubling up this Lent:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yBjrQCjxs&w=560&h=315]

Burned cakes and new inventions

I’ve been doubling my baking to raise money for the CAFOD Lent Appeal. I was a bit nervous and pressed for time in my first week so I made something simple – a Lemon Drizzle Cake. It came out well and all twelve slices were sold for a pound each by mid-afternoon the following day. Continue reading “Lent 2015: half way reflections on our Lent challenges”

Young climate bloggers: Our Lent Cut it Out! challenge

St Robert's young climate bloggers
St Robert’s young climate bloggers

A CAFOD young climate blogger from St Robert’s tell us why giving up chocolate for Lent is helping tackle climate change and gives some hints and tips on how you can Cut it Out! too.

What are you cutting out this Lent? What difference will it make to stop climate change? This year, CAFOD are organising a Cut it Out! challenge to enforce their climate change campaign. For every pound they raise, the government are going to match it, up to £5 million, so it is a great opportunity to raise money for our sisters and brothers overseas.

Watch Martin’s film to see how CAFOD’s work supports those most vulnerable to a changing climate.

Usually in Lent I promise myself to give up chocolate or sweets and then it gets to the second week and I completely give up! But this year, I have a cause to work for and so do you. Continue reading “Young climate bloggers: Our Lent Cut it Out! challenge”

Lent 2015 appeal: What matters?

Mark Chamberlain is a writer with CAFOD. Already a vegetarian, this Lent he is going vegan by giving up eggs, dairy and honey. He will donate the money he saves to CAFOD and is hoping that his Lenten food choices will help him to reaffirm his belief in non-violence.

I dreamed of an egg last night. A single poached egg, lightly salted on a slice of toast. And as I went to pick up my knife and fork…I woke.

A few years back, when I became vegetarian, I had a similar dream about a giant slice of ham. The ham was huge and was draped over me. I realised the only way to escape was to eat my way out of it. And as I opened my mouth to start feasting…I woke.

I told the ham story to a friend. He had spent time in the Himalayas when he was younger and said when he trekked through the range, his group had run very low on food. After a week or so, he had a dream that his group were all lambs and that the only way to escape starvation was to carry them in his stomach to the nearest town. The good news is, he’s alive and being the lovely chap he is, he didn’t resort to cannibalism.

Every £1 you donate this Lent to the CAFOD Lent Appeal, the UK government will match Continue reading “Lent 2015 appeal: What matters?”

Lent 2015: Why I’m doubling my baking

Cupcakes to raise money for CAFOD's Lent Appeal
Strawverry cupcakes to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

Laura works in CAFOD’s communications team in London. She tells us why she has decided to do double the baking this Lent to fundraise for CAFOD

I’ve always loved baking. But I’ve been doing a lot more since I became a mum. That’s why I’ve decided to double my baking this Lent to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal.

Since I had my son Alfie, who is now two years old, I’m at home in the evenings more anyway and I find baking a great way to relax and unwind after a busy day. Not to mention the treat of a home-baked cake that you get to share with your family at the end. And I like the thought of Alfie having a treat where I know exactly what’s gone into it, with no nasties.

Give to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

There’s something so calming about baking that I don’t find with other cooking. Maybe it’s the precise measurements and instructions that give me a sense of control in a chaotic world. Or that every time you take a freshly-baked cake out of the oven, you can’t help thinking that a little bit of magic’s happened. The sloppy mess that went into the tin transforms into a spongy, golden, morsel that smells deliciously of warm, sugary sweetness.

Fundraise in your parish or school with our Fast Day resources

Continue reading “Lent 2015: Why I’m doubling my baking”