Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.
‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.
In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.
Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three CAFOD volunteers from the Northampton diocese share their experience of preparing for Harvest Fast Day.
Mike Coote from St Teresa’s, Beaconsfield said:
Every year when my Fast Day pack arrives and the autumn leaves start to turn brown, I know it is time to start planning Harvest Fast Day. It is usually a meal where we share homemade soup and bread and people in the congregation make donations to CAFOD.
I am always really excited when my Fast Day pack arrives, I make sure that I put it at the back of the parish so that everyone can read about CAFOD when they leave and over the past few years, the simple poster has grown to a display which is visible from most places in the church. This way people can learn all about the fast day in more detail and they can really see who the appeal helps.
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!
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.
With Harvest Fast Day activities and preparation starting this weekend, Sister Carmel, a religious Sister of Marie Auxiliatrice from the Parish of Our Lady of Muswell in North London, reflects on how God calls us to not only empathise with our brothers and sisters living in poverty, but to put that care into action. Sister Carmel, a retired teacher and missionary, and now a CAFOD Westminster volunteer, explains how you and your parish can help.
When during Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration I came across the lines “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” (Psalm 63), my mind went immediately to the people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, who like too many others on our planet are in the throes of another terrible drought and its consequent crop failure and lack of food for thousands. I reflected on the request of our Holy Father in Laudato Si’, where he invites us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how it is for them, and felt compelled to do something about this dreadful situation.
This Harvest CAFOD is telling the story of Hamani, a 74 year-old farmer from the village of Doutchi in southern Niger. A man struggling, with pride and perseverance, to grow enough produce to feed his family and have something over to share with his less fortunate neighbours. Given the havoc being wrought time and again, year in year out since 2010 this is a well-nigh impossible task but nevertheless he is still confident that given some help from us he will manage to grow enough to eat and put aside some seeds to sow for next year’s harvest. He is not looking for hand-outs, just enough to help him survive with dignity and become self-reliant.
Kathleen O’Brien is our secondary resources coordinator, leading on the material for young people this Harvest Fast Day.
Watch our Brighten Up Harvest film, and then read Kathleen’s blog about the making of it:
Bright peace building projects in El Salvador
If you visit the education webpages this Harvest you will be greeted by Isabel and Diego, two young people who explain what life is like in a gang-dominated area of El Salvador, and talk about how CAFOD partners are helping their community to create safe, bright spaces where children and young people can play, learn and meet with their friends.
We really wanted to convey the brightness of this project in El Salvador, the brightness of the community, and the brightness of a hopeful future. So this Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world. To do this, we set about making a short, bright, fun clip to introduce the fundraising theme.
Rosemary has supported CAFOD for over 30 years – buying World Gifts, taking part in LiveSimply, praying for our partners around the world, and even running the London Marathon. Rosemary tells us why giving is important to her and what her plans are for Harvest Fast Day.
Justice in my family
When my husband and I first moved to Norwich, about 34 years ago, our finances were quite tricky. We prayed and decided we would put God first. We decided to tithe our income and give 10 per cent back to the Lord for his Kingdom work. A big proportion of our funds went to CAFOD. We wanted our tithing to go towards justice and peace work because we believe there has to be justice before there can be peace. How can people live peacefully in their hearts when others are struggling? As Pope Paul said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”
I brought my children up to think about justice within the family and being fair. We don’t take things from each other without asking because we’re depriving that person of a chance to be generous. If you’re asked, the kind thing is to say: “Yes, you may borrow it.” But you have to ask first, otherwise you’re taking from that person and presuming they’ll be generous. Then they can have the blessing from making a good choice. Continue reading “My Harvest Fast Day – a day in solidarity with those who do not have enough”
Katharine O’Brien is a parish youth worker at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Wanstead. This Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world, and in this blog Katharine explains how she will introduce the theme and explore the material with the children and young people she works with.
Harvest Fast Day is approaching. On Friday 2 October, schools and communities around the country will be raising money to support communities affected by violence, like Isabel’s. I watched Isabel’s film and saw the reality of life in San Salvador, El Salvador. The video offers insight into her community, into the heart of the youth project seeking to brighten up the prospects of young people, to tackle the reality of gang culture and the danger they face simply by stepping out of doors. Isabel tells us how sad it is to see the children she grew up with turning to guns and violence.
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!”
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.