The Rohingya crisis: Personal stories from Cox’s Bazar

Zoe Corden from CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team has been in Cox’s Bazar supporting the emergency response. She shares the personal stories of Rohingya refugees forced to flee Myanmar, and now facing the upcoming monsoon season.

I met Solima when she was only 15 days old, and had known nothing but trauma in her short life. Wounded and hungry, she was held in her mother’s arms among hundreds of people sitting on the ground at the entry point to Bangladesh, just waiting in eerie silence.

Solima’s mother, Khodesha, gave birth to her in Myanmar. “Our house was burned,” said her father, Selim. “They took our land and cattle. We hid ourselves in the jungle. We have nothing left.” Eleven of their neighbours were killed, and every house destroyed, when their village in Myanmar’s Rakhine province was attacked.

Her parents waited until Solima was a week old before embarking with her and their three other children on the long, dangerous and exhausting journey to safety in Bangladesh. They were just the latest of 680,000 Rohingya refugees who have had to flee Myanmar since 25 August 2017, arriving with virtually nothing.

Read more about the Share the Journey campaign

Continue reading “The Rohingya crisis: Personal stories from Cox’s Bazar”

16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.”

Cassandra Mok, CAFOD’s Country Rep for Cambodia & Myanmar, shares her thoughts on why violence against women and girls is such an important issue.

16-Days-Cambodia
Men in Cambodia wearing white ribbons, a symbol of solidarity against gender-based violence.

A friend of mine once confided that her high school boyfriend used to hit her and drag her around by the hair. It surprised me, as I always saw her as this clever, articulate and powerful woman. I asked her why she put up with it for so many years. After explaining that both her parents used to beat her in anger, she simply stated: “Everyone who loved me hit me. So I believed that if someone loved you, they hit you.”

Learn more about CAFOD’s work on gender

Gender-based violence affects both men and women, boys and girls. It affects the family as well as the society we share. Violence is not solely about personal safety, it’s about how we communicate our emotions and how we resolve conflict. Children learn how they should treat others and how they deserve to be treated from those around them. Growing up in a violent situation makes it a norm. These children grow into adults with conceptions on how to interact with each other and with expectations that it’s normal to hit or to be hit.

Continue reading “16 Days: “The choice to end violence against women starts with you.””

Speaking at Mass for CAFOD Fast Days

Ged Edwards, Volunteer Coordinator in Liverpool reflects on the incredible contribution from volunteers who speak at Mass.

Ged Edwards, Diocesan Manager in Salford
Ged Edwards

Today, we are more aware than ever of other countries and of the lives of our brothers and sisters across the world. For many Catholics, this awareness goes way beyond booking the next holiday, and our relationship with our global family is especially close at key times of the year. Lent and Harvest Fast Days are times when we are particularly aware of our sisters and brothers overseas. At this time, we think about the support the Church offers through CAFOD.

Lent 2015 – Kyin Nu

During Lent this year, we introduced you to Kyin Nu – a woman from Myanmar who lost her two eldest children to a cyclone in 2008. Kyin Nu and her husband now have one precious daughter left. As the family faced terrible loss and powerlessness, CAFOD worked with our partner in Myanmar to help Kyin Nu’s community to restore buildings, farms and fisheries, and to construct new land defences. We have worked to make sure that next time – and, sadly, there will be a next time – Kyin Nu’s community know how to stay safe. Kyin Nu knows where to safely store her food so it doesn’t get ruined by salt water, where to run to when she hears the warning signal, and her daughter knows to pack an emergency bag filled with essentials like water, food and a blanket.

Volunteer to speak at Mass – contact your local CAFOD office

Carmel Donnelly, one of our volunteers in Salford, shared Kyin Nu’s story with her parish at Mass during Lent. A real person giving an account from their heart helps people to understand what’s going on in the world and what they can do to help. Carmel told me: “It was good to hear of a personal story, as it related to real people in need.” Continue reading “Speaking at Mass for CAFOD Fast Days”

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”

Pupils speak up against climate change

Children from St. Mary’s Primary School in Swanage have been speaking up against climate change as part of CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign.

The pupils wrote excellent speeches about why they want to see action taken to tackle climate change and delivered them in front of an audience which included Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset.

Take a look at some of the children’s excellent speeches:

Richard Drax MP heard the children's climate change speeches
Richard Drax MP heard the children’s climate change speeches

“It is we children who will have to deal with the effects of climate change when we are older. This is the terrible gift that previous generations have left us for our future.”

***

Join Pope Francis and speak up against climate change

“To help we can ask God to help us. We could try to become a fair trade school.  This matters because Fair Trade goods pay for village funds, and so they have resources to plan for extreme weather

We can fundraise so CAFOD can help people who have no resilience for this kind of problem.

We can be more careful with our heating, the way we use paper and the way we waste food.

I am helping by joining the One Climate One World Campaign. I am doing this by reading this speech to you.

Continue reading “Pupils speak up against climate change”

One Climate, One World: No power over rain or sun

U Than Win and his family
U Than Win and his wife Daur San Mhwe holding their children Elizabeth (left) and Kissnow (right).

CAFOD writer Mark Chamberlain talks about meeting a village leader in Myanmar and how changes in climate are affecting his community.

Speak Up for communities affected by a changing climate. Join CAFOD at Westminster on Wednesday 17 June

There is a calmness about U Than Win that can’t be learned. I sat on the floor in his small home – even the jungle around us seemed to wait in silence – waiting for the rains, waiting for him to speak.

“The village is here – in my heart”

The slightly built 51-year-old was thinking – deliberating an answer before delivering a typically succinct, quiet truth. “I do things first for my community” – a pause to make sure I understood every word – “then my family. The village is here” he pointed gently to his chest, “in my heart.”

His wife was quick to tell me that her husband is always working – always tending to people’s needs. “When he does relax” she said, looking at me directly, “it’s for five minutes at the most, then someone will come to our home asking for his help.”

She smiled before continuing. “Last year I was in hospital. I knew he was worried about the village – he wanted to be with me, but his duty is to help them. I held his hand and told him to stay with me.” Continue reading “One Climate, One World: No power over rain or sun”

New Year in Myanmar

Myanmar - woman prayingPaula Nyunt from our Humanitarian team, who is originally from Myanmar, reflects on the country’s New Year festivities.

Support CAFOD’s work in Myanmar and across the world this Lent

As Myanmar, Cambodia and Bangladesh celebrate New Year this week, I was reminded of my childhood when we celebrated the water festival in the city that was then Rangoon.

Myanmar has 12 festivals, one each month around the full moon day. But Myanmar’s New Year water festival, Thin-gyan, is the most famous, often with street celebrations as well as various religious activities. It usually falls around mid-April and it is celebrated over a period of four to five days ending in the New Year.

There is a great deal of friendliness and goodwill among people during the festival. The sprinkling of water is intended to symbolically “wash away” one’s iniquities. In major cities such as Yangon and Mandalay, garden hoses or locally made water shooters and other devices from which water can be sprayed are used, in addition to simple bowls and cups. Sometimes water balloons and even fire hoses have been used. It is the hottest time of the year and a good dousing is welcomed by most.

During the Water Festival, the Myanmar government relaxes the restrictions on gatherings. However, the lack of water in recent years has restricted the use of large quantities of water in some parts of the country.

Temporary water-spraying stations are set up, and double as dance floors, many of them are sponsored by wealthy families and businesses. Street performances and traditional floats by puppeteers, orchestras, dance troupes, comedians, actors and singers singing and chanting slogans are commonplace. Support CAFOD’s work in Myanmar and across the world this Lent  Continue reading “New Year in Myanmar”

Lent 2015: The one thousand pound tea challenge

1kg of tea

Sarah works in CAFOD’s Campaigns team.

It’s five weeks now since I cut out drinking tea for Lent, in order to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent appeal and generate support for our One Climate, One World campaign to tackle climate change.

Progress so far:

Money raised: £496.10 (doubled by match funding from the UK government, to make £992.20)

Cups of tea not drunk: About 185

One Climate, One World petition signatures: At least 20

Days to go: 9

My fundraising has been going better, much better, than expected, which almost makes up for the caffeine withdrawal. I just need £3.90 more to raise a total of £1,000 towards CAFOD’s work. Sponsor me now

£1,000: that’s a lot of money. I ask my family what they’d do with £1,000. “I’d get i pads,” says my older daughter without missing a beat. Continue reading “Lent 2015: The one thousand pound tea challenge”

Building a future after Myanmar’s biggest natural disaster

By Mark Chamberlain, Communications Officer

Martin - emergency drill - Myanmar - DRR CAFOD (2)
Martin, Myanmar

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.”

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal

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”

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”