Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, has set himself a Lent challenge to run 5km at least once a week to a local water source. He reflects on how his challenge has helped him think about those who need to take hours out of their day simply to collect the water they need to survive.
Damian getting ready for his running challenge, with colleague Hazel who is also taking on a challenge this Lent
I rise early. I climb reluctantly from my warm bed and dress quietly in the dark, not wanting to wake my family. I stretch a few times then step out of the house into the cold morning. With only the faint glow of the streetlights to show me the way, I begin to run.
It is Lent and I have a new challenge. Before completing my usual morning routine and going to work, I have to find time at least once a week to go to the local river.
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Elsewhere a young girl rises early. She too climbs reluctantly from her bed, dresses quickly and efficiently and leaves the family home. She lifts up the large water containers and begins to walk.
She too has a new challenge. She is now deemed old enough to take on certain responsibilities. So, instead of completing her usual morning routine of getting ready for school, she is going to the local river to collect water.
Despite the parallel storylines there are worlds of difference between the trips.
Teko Anna, Daphne and Violet in their home (Credit: David Mutua)
CAFOD writer, Mark Chamberlain recently travelled to Uganda. This Mothering Sunday, he writes on some of the women he met and how they reminded him of his own family.
There was a point when I stood sheltering from those first welcome rains that everything seemed still. It was so strange. Teko Anna’s children running through that heavy roar – Daphne, her nine-year-old over there under the roof of her uncle’s house, jumping in the quickly forming puddles. The younger ones watching Daphne, following her, copying her actions with awkward limbs, splashing though the same puddles.
Proscovia now through the lines of water running with a box of ducklings, bringing them in from the rain.
How will you help mums like Teko Anna this Lent?
Rachel McCarthy works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. She reflects on the struggles of our sisters and brothers living in poverty, and how our prayers can make a real difference.
Today on Women’s World Day of Prayer, we pray for women like Nadiim from Uganda
Today is Women’s World Day of Prayer. I reflect on the experiences of the many women and girls around the world who struggle without access to water, like Nangiro Nadiim from Uganda.
Nadiim has seen how devastating the effects of drought can be. In the dry and dusty region of Karamoja, the lack of water affects families, animals and crops- but it is often women who suffer the most.
Nadiim says, “Life today is even worse than before. Before, we had lots of crops and cows, but now there is no rain. Our cows have starved because there is no grass. I don’t know if our children will survive.”
It’s hard to imagine what Nadiim is going through; to be forced into fear for your children’s future. I’m not sure I could bear it.
But our faith compels us not to turn away. Pope Francis encourages us to “open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity… let us recognise that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!” Misericordiae Vultus #15
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Jo Kitterick is Head of Development Education at CAFOD. In this blog she describes meeting Fr Paul, Director of Caritas Lebanon and hearing a powerful story of mercy, love and hope.
‘How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!’ (Misericordia Vultus April 2015)
Students at Cardinal Newman School, Luton, commit to CAFOD Lent actions for the Year of Mercy
Across schools, parishes and cathedrals, momentum has been gathering to mark the Year of Mercy. I hear talk of holy doors, children writing poems and prayers on mercy, people making time to reflect on how we really open our hearts to God and to others.
CAFOD partner, Fr Paul, Director of Caritas Lebanon, passed through the door of CAFOD’s London office just two weeks ago. I had the privilege of speaking with him before he left to return home to Beirut.
The civil war in Lebanon was a regular news item on the television when I was a child. Lebanon continues to be in the news because this small country of just over four million is hosting over a million refugees affected by the war in Syria. The door to these refugees’ homes are the flaps of tents, openings to disused buildings. Some are doors shared with local families. The bed for a family can be a towel or a cloth on a cold concrete floor.
Today is Lent Fast Day, a day to think about how we can help provide water for all. Giving water to the thirsty is a very practical and valued act of mercy, as CAFOD gap year volunteer Bea Findley explains.
In England and Wales, it’s hard to believe there is a shortage of water in the world.
The toilet will always flush and the tap will always work. We are told to save water, yet look out the window and see rain pour down. Whilst it may be difficult to understand coming from a British climate that water is precious, today on Lent Fast Day, I’m remembering why it’s so important to stand in solidarity with people around the world who are in need of water.
One of the corporal works of mercy is to ‘give drink to the thirsty’, and Pope Francis calls us to do just that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Last month I visited CAFOD partner CEAS in Peru, and saw just how precious water is in one particular community.