Martin was six when his small bamboo home in Myanmar’s southwestern jungle was blown away by a terrifying 145mph tropical storm.
I ask him what he remembers most from that night and the small, talkative boy is quiet for a few seconds, then smiles nervously: “I couldn’t hear other people calling out or crying, I could just hear the screaming voice of the wind.”
In minutes, houses where generations of people had lived were snatched from the ground and splintered across the land. Essentials like food, money and clothes were thrown into the nearby river and for miles across the land. Countless people were killed. In one village down the river, one out of every two were taken by the wind.
“It was dark and the wind was all around,” Martin says of that Friday in 2008. “My dad picked me up from our home and ran and ran. We didn’t know where to go or where to hide, but we went to the school.”
Myanmar – the country formerly known as ‘Burma’ – faces small, localised cyclones every year. But nothing on the scale of Cyclone Nargis. Martin’s family, like many others in the village, ran in that May darkness, but they didn’t know where to or what to do when they arrived at their destination. Rebecca Murphy, CAFOD’s disaster risk reduction expert says: “This is the key moment when the initial effects of a disaster can be managed. So many lives can be saved just by ensuring a community has access to an early warning system, knows where to go and what to do when a cyclone hits.” Continue reading “Building a future after Myanmar’s biggest natural disaster”
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.
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.
Ellie Wilcock is CAFOD’s PR officer. Today, her personal Lent journal focuses on Fairtrade Fortnight.
This Lent I’m keeping a hope journal, and over the coming weeks will be sharing a number of my entries on this blog. My journal – which closely follows CAFOD’s Lent Calendar – will be a place to record my joys, hopes, concerns and inspirations. A place to reflect on everything for which I am grateful, and the values by which I try to live my life.
Today marks the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight – an annual campaign organised by the Fairtrade Foundation to raise awareness of its work. Over the past 20 years, Fairtrade has become the best known ethical label in the UK, and the two week period from now until Monday 08 March is the perfect time to celebrate the successes of the Fairtrade movement. It’s a time to speak out for justice in solidarity with the communities living in extreme poverty, and reflect on changes we can make in our daily lives to help ensure that small-scale farmers and producers enjoy fair terms of trade.
Every Fairtrade product bought helps to transform the lives of more than 1.4 million people in 74 countries around the world – an astonishing figure. However, with over 50% of the UK public still not actively choosing to buy Fairtrade products – and only around 7% of tea sold in the UK Fairtrade-certified – there’s clearly still much to be done to spread the word. Continue reading “Hope Journal 2015: Fairtrade Fortnight”
Liam Finn is CAFOD’s Regional Media Officer. His personal Lent journal today focuses on World Day of Social Justice.
“Why do you want this job?”
“I don’t really. I don’t want CAFOD to exist.”
That was how I started to answer the question from my boss in my CAFOD interview. It might seem a mad response to someone in the hope that they would offer me the job. But I meant it. CAFOD exists because social injustices exist. I really wanted my job, and – *spoiler alert* – I was offered it. Yet I would much rather live in a world where people don’t go hungry or lack access to clean water, where people don’t have to flee from wars or oppression, and where people have the same means as others in richer countries to withstand disasters and rebuild their lives afterwards. We at CAFOD work to achieve that world and make ourselves unnecessary in the future: we work for social justice.
There’s nothing wrong with tea. Many of my fellow CAFOD cut-it-outers are doing without things that have a direct impact on the carbon emissions that cause climate change, like eating meat, or taking up environmentally friendly activities like cycling. Tea, apart from the inevitable air miles to get it here, is a fairly minor vice. Especially as I always drink Fairtrade.
Lent is traditionally a time of giving, praying and fasting, as we seek to transform our lives and the lives of others. Ffion Dean, our Web Editor, has been talking to CAFOD staff about their great ideas to live out our Lenten practice, and make a difference to the world’s poorest people.
Here at Romero House we’re excited about the fact that donations to CAFOD this Lent are being doubled by the UK government. We want to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity and have been putting our heads together to think of how we can raise as much money as possible between 18 February and 17 May.
Although I won’t be giving something up in the traditional Lent fashion, I’ve decided to double the time and effort I put into CAFOD fundraising through the medium of biscuits and cakes! I find spending an afternoon baking very relaxing, but I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like. I’m aiming to bake once a week during Lent and to sell to my creations to CAFOD colleagues. It’s going to be a great feeling knowing that every time someone spends £1 on a biscuit, the UK government will be putting another £1 in the fund towards CAFOD’s work to ensure the world’s poorest women, men and children are able to cope with the effects of storms, droughts and floods. Continue reading “Doubling our impact this Lent”
This blog is written by Rachel McCarthy who works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. It is the first of a series inviting you to share your joys and hopes, and to pray for people living in poverty at Lent.
As we journey through Lent, take time to reflect on your joys, hopes, concerns and inspirations by keeping a hope journal. In a spirit of solidarity, we hold in our prayers the joys and hopes of our global family.
Jo De Paula works in CAFOD’s schools fundraising team. Her work involves encouraging children to take part in Lent Fast Day, but here she tells us how she’s planning on personally making a difference this Lent. Lent is coming soon! Every year I plan to do many things for Lent that will bring me closer to God and challenge myself to be a better person. This year I have chosen to give up chocolate. So right now I have the overwhelming urge to eat as much sugar as I can before I give it up for 40 days. But so often after I share my #ashtag Ash Wednesday Selfie with the world, my good intentions never materialise. This year will be different. This year I have a plan:
By Rachel McCarthy, Theology Programme Communications Coordinator
The season of Lent is fast upon us. It is time to prepare for the traditional acts of giving, praying and fasting, as we journey with Jesus through 40 days and nights.
Lent is a season of reflection and renewal. A time of growing in faith and looking deeper at our lives to be re-centred on God and our neighbour. A time to deepen our prayer life and to grow in faith. A time of giving and sharing with our global family.
And then there is fasting. We might give something up such as chocolate, and we make a special effort on Fridays to abstain from the goods we usually take for granted. A few times I have fasted for 24 hours during Lent. Last year for example, I fasted in solidarity with people in the UK who are living on the breadline and are forced every week to go to food banks to feed their families.
I have to admit, for me, fasting is never easy. Although food poverty is an issue close to my heart, I found it very difficult to stay focused during these 24 hours. I found myself being more tired and irritable with others around me. I was tempted to winge, to draw attention to myself, in the hope that others would feel sorry for me.
But this is precisely the temptation which we must avoid. In the long hours of our fasting, we must wrestle with our demons, and stay focused on God. In a very real sense, fasting is the act of emptying ourselves, so that we can turn away from all that separates us from loving God. It’s a time of trial, when we rekindle patience and hope for the resurrection. Continue reading “Lent: a time for compassion”
Maricristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who are giving something up for Lent.
It is at times like Lent, when we stop to reflect on a number of things and get closer to God, that we often realise how blessed we are. Right now I feel blessed to be working with a group of committed and passionate people. With only two weeks to go until Ash Wednesday I know lots of people will be trying to decide what to cut out in order to create a change in their own lives or in the wider world.
I’ve been talking to my colleagues about their preparations for Lent and have been impressed by how dedicated they are to make a difference to the lives of those who suffer and taking care of the gifts we have been given by God. Many people are focussing on using Lent to help people living in poverty to cope with the destruction that extreme weather and climate change can bring. Lots of people at CAFOD are making Lenten promises, and we all have our own little challenging and exciting cut it out activities to try and reduce our impact on the environment. Continue reading “CAFOD staff are cutting it out for Lent 2015”