Step into the Gap: How Cambodia changed me

Rod travelled to Cambodia with the Step into the Gap programme to meet CAFOD partners and the communities they work with.  One year on from his trip, Rod reflects on what it all meant to him.

Rod was a part of our gap year programme.
Rod reflects on his trip to Cambodia with CAFOD.

The way in which Cambodia changed me seems to come into view and then fall out again, oscillating in the busyness of life. When I was speaking to people about my trip to Cambodia almost every day, when it was my life, the changes it had made to me were more obvious. Now, to a certain extent they have become more blurred, because I am not thinking about the trip so much. But they are also clearer because I am able to look back at how it changed me from a distance.

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Step into the Gap: Preparing for our travels

Our team of Step into the Gap volunteers are about to depart for their overseas trips to either Sierra Leona or Nicaragua and El Salvador. We asked them how they are feeling and how they are preparing for their trips.

Kayleigh, Christopher, Siobhan and Hannah are travelling to Sierra Leone.

Kayleigh

Kayleigh is on placement at The Briars youth residential centre in Nottingham diocese

Gapper kayleigh is travelling to Sierra Leone
Kayleigh

At The Briars we use our morning prayer time and workshop sessions to help young people be aware of many of the issues facing communities in Sierra Leone, for example, recovering from the recent  landslide.
When I get back from visiting Sierra Leone I will get the opportunity to visit groups of young people and share what I’ve learnt, and I am so keen to get out there to tell them about the people of Sierra Leone, as I already know that they are invested in what I will be seeing and who I will be meeting. I cannot contain my gratitude and excitement and I truly acknowledge that this programme is a once in a lifetime.

Applications are now open for Step into the Gap 2018. Apply now

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Step into the Gap: Welcome to the new volunteers

We’d like to introduce and welcome the new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers as they settle into their placements this week. Read on to find out a little bit about the 2017/2018 team as they gear up for a year of volunteering with CAFOD.

Christopher is a Step into the Gap volunteer based at Walsingham House in Brentwood
Christopher

Christopher Burkette – Walsingham House, Brentwood

Hello, my name is Christopher. I am 18 years old and over the next year I am going to be doing a placement at Walsingham House within the Brentwood diocese in the South-East of the UK. I have been previously involved with the work of CAFOD at a campaign raising awareness of the growing issues surrounding Climate Change – One Climate One World; for me an important topic, more today than ever as the effects of climate change appear so prominent in the World around us. For me, it is important for us to care for the World around us – given to us by God as a gift: one we must be stewards of, spend special attention to and care for.

I joined the Step into the Gap programme once the opportunity arose due to my desire to really help people in the wider world around me – I felt the programme gave me an opportunity to make a real difference! This joined with the fact that I have always took an interest in the many varied works of CAFOD. I wanted to be a part of it – in some way acting to represent the values set by CAFOD – not just in work but in my everyday lifestyle. I think that many people don’t have a full grasp of the spectrum of how far-reaching CAFOD work and the amount of people’s lives of which are transformed completely through action of CAFOD and their partners. I feel that I can be a very vocal person, and so feel that the Step into the Gap programme is helpful for me spreading this message of love to others and act towards visible change!

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Step into the Gap: My year with CAFOD

Applications for Step into the Gap 2017 are now open. Ever wondered what life is like for a gapper? Read on to find out! Katy was part of last year’s team, based at St Mary’s Academy in Lancaster.

In October 2015 I wrote a blog about how I was feeling starting the CAFOD gap year. I was excited, nervous and ready for a unique experience. I got it.

In the last week of August I moved up to Blackpool, into St John Vianney’s Presbytery to start my gap year at St Mary’s Catholic Academy. We lived with the Parish priest, Fr Peter, and it quickly became home away from home. I lived there with Peter and Michelle, the second gapper at St Mary’s, and we had so much fun! Living in the parish we got to socialise and become a part of the parish, they were all so welcoming and lovely.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

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Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!

We’d like to introduce and welcome the new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers as they settle into their placements this week. Read on to find out a little bit about the 2016/2017 team as they gear up for a year of volunteering with CAFOD.

The new team of Step into the Gap volunteers
The new team of Step into the Gap volunteers

 

James
James has joined the chaplaincy team at St Mary’s High School, Blackpool

James – St Mary’s High School, Lancaster

Six years ago I would have never had imagined I would be where I am today. I first got involved in CAFOD’s work in 2010 when I was invited to become another parish representative in church. Since that time, I have helped raise over £7,000 and have taken part in numerous rallies and lobbies, including the Enough Food for Everyone IF Rally in 2013 and the ‘Speak up for the Love of’ Lobby of Parliament in 2015.

This year, I hope to use my skills and knowledge at St Mary’s, where I’ll be part of the chaplaincy team, to put my faith into action. We’ll be supporting the college students at St Mary’s and pupils at Christ the King primary school, and will be fundraising and getting students involved in CAFOD’s work.

Explore CAFOD’s resources for primary schools and secondary schools

I am very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the stories I will be able to share with students, staff and CAFOD supporters over the coming year.

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Step into the Gap – Adventures in Peru

Fiona Sim is one of our gap year volunteers. Here are some of her reflections from her first week seeing projects CAFOD supports in Peru:

Fiona (right) with women from Lomas de Carabayllo's comedors
Fiona (right) with women from Lomas de Carabayllo’s comedors

From working with the dynamic children of Warmi Huasi to meeting the inspirational residents of Lomas de Carabayllo, it has been a jam-packed first week of our journey. Though it’s been quite an intense week, I feel so privileged to have been able to meet and learn from so many amazing people already. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel like I’ve met some of the real life super heroes of our time. These people have no special powers, no soothsaying abilities, and no fancy capes. This is what they do have: resilience, strength, and a kitchen at their fingertips.

These are the wonderful women of two of Lomas de Carabayllo’s comedors. These communal kitchens provide a subsidised lunch to people who need it in the community—those who would struggle to afford hearty meals otherwise—from Monday to Friday. The staff members themselves are part of the same community and earn free meals through working at the comedor when they can.

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Step into the Gap: a gap year with a difference

Applications for the CAFOD Gap Year, Step into the Gap, are now open. Julia Corcoran took part in the programme in 2013 /14, and in this blog describes her experience.

SITG_volunteers2013
Julia (second row, second from right) with fellow Step into the Gap volunteers in 2013

Two years ago I wrote a reflection on why I was really excited to be travelling to Sierra Leone. In those two years my life has taken a completely different turn and that’s mainly down to my experiences on Step into the Gap.Find out more about Step into the Gap

During my time on the programme my placement was at YMT, (the Youth service for Hexham and Newcastle) running retreats in the Emmaus Youth Village where groups of young people come to take time out, reflect on their lives, realise the impact they have on the world and hopefully the impact God has in their lives. During my time there I had a variety of opportunities to work with young people from leading Morning Prayer, helping to run youth festivals and running workshops, as well as going into schools for assemblies and speaking during Mass in the local parishes and at the Cathedral.

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Step into the Gap Nicaragua – Country girl at heart

Steph is spending a year as a Step into the Gap volunteer for CAFOD and is working at Good Shepherd parish in Nelson, Lancashire. Here is an update on her visit to Nicaragua.

We have just come back from an amazing few days staying in rural Nicaragua up by the Honduras border. We stayed with Elizabeth on her family farm called ‘Gracias a Dios’ (Thanks to God). Elizabeth works for ASOMUPRO, one of CAFOD’s partners, so she was our guide for the week. She lives with her parents; Dona Ada and Don Angel, her two younger sisters, her cousin and her brother, his wife and their son Arron on a gorgeous farm complete with pigs, cows, horses, a donkey, hens and dogs!

The Step into the Gap Nicaragua group
The Step into the Gap Nicaragua group

Elizabeth is a technical support worker, someone who visits the surrounding communities where ASOMUPRO works. She is the local communication link with the main office in Managua as well as the more local office in Esteli (still three hours’ drive away). She checks up to see how they’re getting on, to provide support and communicate any training they might want to go to. Locally she works with the Natoso bee keeping women, the kitchen garden women in San Fernando and Dona Helen in Jicaro as well as many other groups.

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Nicaragua

All the girls, (six of us as we had Bryanna, an intern at ASOMUPRO travelling with us also) shared one room, while Chris and Marvin (our driver for the week) had their own. Mosquito nets were vital here so imagine six individual nets up in one room, sleep walking was not an option for Vicky!

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Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Day visit to Murehwa

CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe send their latest update from their journey…

Kieron and Lizzie meet partners
Kieron and Lizzie meet CAFOD partners from ‘Sanitation to Success’

Today we were thrilled to be visiting our first CAFOD project in Murehwa, one hour north-east of Harare. On arrival we met with CAFOD partner, Caritas Harare and the Murehwa authorities. They told us about the Sanitation for Success programme that CAFOD supports, and that we’d be visiting throughout the day.

Learn more about CAFOD’s work in Zimbabwe

First up, we attended a training workshop for community health workers about the importance of good sanitation in communities. As it was the first meeting, we all took part in a ‘getting to know you’ exercise, which we really enjoyed. This showed us the importance of the programme facilitators taking the time to get to know the community health workers and likewise for the health workers to really get to know their communities, facilitating collaboration, understanding and strong teamwork.

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