Step into the Gap: What struck me most on my Step into the Gap visit

CAFOD gap year volunteer, Aleks Adamczyk, who is currently on placement at St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Blackpool, reflects on meeting CAFOD’s partners in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Find out more about Step into the gap

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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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All I want for Christmas…is bees

Victoria Ahmed works in CAFOD’s education team.

Socks, check. Dad’s book, check. Queen bee, check.

Like many people, I’ve been rushing about this week in a mild panic. When’s the last date for online delivery orders? Have I missed the last post?  I’ve been scribbling away on my little present checklist, making sure I’ve remembered everything. The Happy queen bee World Gift is probably my favourite on the list to buy this year, and both my five year old God- daughter and my 89 year old Nan will be proud owners of one come Christmas morning.

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Legacies: giving hope and help for generations to come

CAFOD supporter John van den Bosch visited our projects in Nicaragua to see how gifts in wills, like the one left by his mother, are having a huge impact.

Sister Hermidea Marte is health coordinator at the clinic
CAFOD partner John XXIII Institute is providing healthcare and affordable medicine for rural communities

My mother, Marjorie, was a dedicated CAFOD supporter. When she died, I wasn’t surprised to learn that, as well as providing for her friends and family, she’d also remembered CAFOD in her will. My niece Kate and I were given the opportunity to visit CAFOD projects in Nicaragua to see how legacies like my mother’s are put to use.

Watch our short video of John and Kate’s trip to Nicaragua

As one of my mother’s executors, and a CAFOD supporter myself, I was intrigued.  I suppose you could call me a “curious sceptic”. But the work I saw in Nicaragua and the remarkable people I met there gave me a richer understanding and appreciation of what CAFOD does.

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We can all leave a legacy of faith, hope and love

Beth Brook is part of the legacy and remembrance team. In 2012 she visited several CAFOD-funded projects in Nicaragua and hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since. Here she remembers some of the people she met and the lessons she learnt during her trip.

Members of the community in Cerro Pando, Nicaragua
CAFOD is working with communities in Nicaragua to help them build a brighter future for themselves and their children

In my ten years at CAFOD I’ve met lots of wonderful supporters and volunteers and some of our overseas colleagues and partners. The highlight came three years ago, when I accompanied two lovely supporters on a trip to Nicaragua to make a short film (below) about how legacies left to the charity help families and communities thousands of miles away.

It was an exhausting but exhilarating adventure, and one that has left an indelible impression on me. There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t think about the people we met; about their optimism, determination, resourcefulness and sacrifices. They taught me so much.

I’d gone to Nicaragua expecting to see concrete examples of the difference that donations and legacies make, so I could then come back and write a mailing or newsletter about how X amount of money built Y and that benefited Z number of people. That’s how all this works, right? When planning the trip and film I’d made a point of identifying projects that addressed what are often referred to as “basic needs” such as water, housing and healthcare; but I just hadn’t appreciated the far-reaching and complex impact these “basic” projects would have on people’s lives.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPVrQPk4VVc?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

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Who is your climate hero?

St Roberts bloggers at Othona
St Roberts bloggers at Othona

Some of our young climate bloggers from St Roberts in Newminster have been thinking about people who inspire them, and ask us, ‘Who is your climate hero?’, having read about Martin, Veronica and William in the One Climate One World action guide. This is what they have to say.

“Of the three of these amazing young people, I think that William from Nicaragua should be seen as a climate hero!  He is only 14, yet he is the leader of his environmental group at school and helps to plant trees in the streets and along rivers, and to teach other people in his community to do the same.

“I am the leader of an environment committee at school. We try to get the message out to people to look after the environment because we can’t live or do anything without it, so we have to look after it.”  –  William

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Listening to the cry of the earth

Today on International Mother Earth Day, Rachel McCarthy from the CAFOD Theology Programme reflects on listening to creation. This is the third of a series of blogs ahead of Pope Francis’ encyclical on human development and ecology, expected to be published this summer.

Flowers in Nicaragua
A blossom of flowers in Nicaragua

“The cry of the poor and the cry of the earth are one.”

(Canadian Bishops Conference, 2003)

We are called to open our hearts and hear what creation is saying to us.

But what does it mean to truly listen to our sisters and brothers across the world, and to the earth?

Listening to God’s creation 

The call to listen to creation is grounded in our belief that all of the earth reflects God’s glory.

Scripture reveals the inherent goodness of creation as made by God. Jesus talked to his disciples about the natural beauty of

the flowers in the fields, and said, “Not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-30).

All living beings are made by God, and we have a deep connection with the whole of creation. Indeed, God establishes an everlasting covenant with all creatures on earth (Genesis 9:16).

Humankind, as created in the image of God, is simultaneously interconnected with all creatures and is given a special role to care for creation.

Inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of ecology, we remember that we are all members of the eco-family. We are called to praise the Creator God together with our ‘Brother Sun’ and ‘Sisters moon and stars’.

Contemplate the beauty of creation with our reflections

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Easter: Christ the redeemer of all creation

Father Augusto Zampini Davies is a RC priest, Moral Theologian and theological advisor to CAFOD. In the second of a series of blogs, Father Augusto explains how caring for creation is at the heart of the Easter message.

Christ the Redeemer
At Easter we celebrate Christ who redeems all of creation

The environmental question brings together two central elements of Church teaching: promoting human development and caring for creation. This may sound overwhelming; some may feel it is too broad, or that it is exclusively related to scientists and experts. And including these concerns into our already busy and moving activities of the Easter season can be exasperating. Yet as Christians we have important reasons to consider the environmental question.

Reflect on creation this Easter

Caring for creation in Nicaragua

First, many of our brothers and sisters across the world experience the disastrous effects of climate change on a daily basis. For example in Nicaragua, crops are failing due to the extreme drought.

Lázaro Gutierrez is a teacher in the community of Santa Ana in the dry corridor of Nicaragua. Lázaro has seen the struggles which the families of his students have faced over the last few years due to the changing climate. With the support of our partner Caritas Jinotega, he has been working with the children to learn how to care for the environment and live sustainably.

Lázaro has a dream for the school.  With our partner Caritas Jinotega he has been working to create a school garden, with fruit trees and vegetable plots, so the children can learn about nutrition and growing food and share what they learn with their families.  He looks forward to the day when the trees they are planting now grow tall and throw shade where the children can sit and play at break times.

The meaning of redemption

At Easter, we celebrate that Christ has risen from the dead and set us free from our sins, instilling hope amongst the futility of death. Continue reading “Easter: Christ the redeemer of all creation”

Lent 2015: Ann faces the challenge of a 5.30 alarm with no snooze button

Ann Hayes works in CAFOD’s Clifton Office. This Lent, she has challenged herself to cut out using the snooze button on her alarm clock.

Ann Snooze
Ann will be cutting out using her snooze button this Lent

The first two weeks of my Lenten challenge had been going surprisingly well, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. But the real test was looming on the horizon: would I be able to get up at 5.30 to make it to Flame 2?

For Lent, I have chosen to give up pressing snooze on my alarm. This is a pretty big challenge for me as I am a serial snoozer, often snoozing for 45 minutes before dragging myself out of bed and running around the house to get ready on time! I had plenty of tips from family and friends on how to make sure I got up in the morning, from sleeping with the curtains open, to drinking a pint of water as soon as I wake up, but actually apart from feeling pretty awful for the first few days, willpower has really been helping me get through.

And what a joy it is to get up earlier in the morning! It gives me time to get a sensible breakfast, chat to my housemates, and relax whilst getting ready for work. I’m lucky to be able to take a few quiet moments eating my breakfast and looking out into our beautiful garden, and even in these few weeks it’s been great to see Spring arriving. I’ve also taken the opportunity to pray every morning, thanking God for my day, and reflecting with the CAFOD Lent Calendar.

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Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua

It’s the end of the visit of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers to Nicaragua. Here are the thoughts of Kate and Steph as they prepare to return to the UK:

Kate

Kate
Kate

We have seen and experienced Nicaragua in so many ways these past few weeks, and to put it into words is a daunting task.

My reasons for joining CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme at the beginning of the year were: I have been a long term supporter of CAFOD’s work, I have helped in fundraising, been a Young Leader helping out at events such as Flame and done work experience at Romero House. So it really seemed like a natural progression to spend a year out of education expanding my knowledge of CAFOD and learning more about their work in the developing world before heading off to university to study International Development. But over the past 6 months, this year has become less about myself and more about those around me. I am extremely fortunate to spend a year with nine of the most hardworking, dedicated and passionate people that I have ever met. They have truly changed my life in more ways than one and I have been lucky enough to go to Nicaragua with three of them. I can honestly say I have made friends for life. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua”