Jess, a member of the Asia and Middle East team recently met with Pakhi * a former migrant worker from Bangladesh who now helps other migrants to protect their rights.
When I met Pakhi, she described her experience of migrating to Kuwait as a young woman to take up employment as a domestic worker.
Pakhi explained, “I went to Kuwait to start sending money back to my elderly mother in Bangladesh and save up for my future. I worked in Kuwait for more than 2 years and I was forced to work around 20 hours a day by my employer. I was paid for only 6 months work and my passport was confiscated. I was confined to my employer’s house and I wasn’t allowed to contact my family back home”.
You are invited to imagine Dilda’s journey who fled Myanmar. Hear Pope Francis’ call to Share the Journey with our brothers and sisters, with arms wide open.
I invite you to close your eyes for a moment. You are at home. You can see thick smoke rising from the house across the street. People are shouting. Your neighbour’s house is on fire. You escape with your family, leaving everything behind.
You start a long journey to find a new home. You don’t know how long you will be walking, when you will next eat or where you will rest. Alone and afraid… you need someone to talk to, a sister or brother to reach out and share the journey with you…
This was just like Dilda’s journey. She fled Myanmar to escape violence in her village. She says, “We didn’t bring a thing. We just grabbed the children and ran.”
Dilda left behind her home, her possessions – everything – for a temporary shelter on the side of the road. Her children are scarred by what they have seen.
We cannot cross by on the other side while our neighbours are struggling. We can share the journey, we can share our hope.
The week before last Pope Francis issued his fifth major document since beginning his papacy. It is largely a sustained meditation on the Beatitudes and how they can be lived out here and now. It is called Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad); and its subtitle is A call to holiness in today’s world. So what, according to Francis, does it mean to be holy? Susy, from our Theology team, highlights some key points.
According to Francis, if you are by nature timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, prone to put on a dreary face or swoon in a mystic rapture then you are heading in the wrong direction! Here are four ways of being holy that Francis advocates. I think they will be particularly pertinent to you as a CAFOD supporter:
1. Live out your faith in a practical way
Pope Francis always stresses that we must live out our faith in a practical way (#109). This means, that in our lives and in our work, we are urged to labour “with integrity and skill in the service” of our brothers and sisters (#14).
Susy works in the Theology team at CAFOD. This Lent, inspired in part by Laudato Si’, she will be going vegan. She tells us more about her reasons for abstaining from animal products and what she’s going to miss the most.
Thirty years ago my brother showed me a video (yes, it was a video in those days!) of a factory farm and from that day on I have been vegetarian. Or, to be more accurate, pescatarian.
I decided that there was so much choice in terms of available food, that there was no need to eat meat. I didn’t find it hard to be honest and I do not miss meat at all. However, when I spent a year in Chile, I think I must have been one of only two vegetarians in the whole country and I was viewed as somewhat suspect!
Thirty years on, I am now preparing to go vegan for Lent and hoping that I will start getting into habits that may last a life-time.
Have you decided what to give up for Lent yet? Tell us on Twitter or take our Lent quiz for inspiration.
Christina Lucey, a parishioner at St Mary Magdalene, Bexhill-on-Sea, and CAFOD volunteer, writes about her experience of hearing Pope Francis announce the new global migration campaign – ‘Share the Journey’ – at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.
What a wonderful morning – despite having to queue for over an hour from 7am to have a chance of a good situation in the square! Under the guidance of our tour guide, our group managed to find places close to the barrier where we could sit and rest for the long wait until Pope Francis was scheduled to appear.
There was great excitement when Pope Francis finally appeared and did his usual tour. I stood on a chair so that I could see better and was able to alert the group when he was coming. We had to wait until almost the end, but it was worth it.
Hannah Caldwell is CAFOD’s legacy officer and speaks with supporters who are thinking of including a gift to CAFOD in their will. She reflects on how Pope Francis encourages us to care for future generations.
When Pope Francis released his encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, lots of people at CAFOD were excited. The Pope’s discussion of issues that deeply effect the communities we work with – climate change, human rights, housing, clean water, a fair share of resources – were being put on the centre stage in this document that was addressed not only to the faithful but to the whole world.
But I have to admit, whilst I knew it was important to CAFOD’s work with partners and communities, I wasn’t sure it was relevant to my role as CAFOD’s legacy officer. I was pleased for my colleagues and, as a Catholic, I was interested in what the Pope had to say and how it might encourage me to make changes in my own life, but I didn’t assume there’d be a connection with my work.
Linda Jones is Head of the CAFOD Theology Programme. On the second anniversary of Pope Francis encyclical, Laudato Si’, she reflects on how we can free our hearts and minds to transform our world.
We can each imagine what the world could be like, though we might each have a very different picture in our minds. As Christians, we have a passionate love of God and our neighbour, especially neighbours who are treated as if they don’t matter. We can hear the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’, and we long to respond.
Yet the challenges are so many, and seemingly so huge, that some of us simply find it all too much. Where do we start? Is it even worth bothering to try? Pope Francis identifies some of the biggest issues facing us in his inspiring encyclical, Laudato Si’: climate change, pollution, migration, work, poverty and inequality… rapidification, an over-reliance on technological change for solutions, and more.
CAFOD’s director Chris Bain outlines three crucial questions to ask your candidates – on aid, climate change and Britain’s role in the world. He explains in three short clips why these issues matter to CAFOD during the UK general election 2017.
As Catholics, Pope Francis reminds us that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and calls us to join a new dialogue about the future.
This election must look to the kind of society we wish to create for ourselves and to pass on to our children. It’s also about the world we want to see for our brothers and sisters worldwide, especially those who are poorest and most vulnerable.
Eleanor Margetts is a young CAFOD volunteer, who spoke at CAFOD’s parliamentary reception for MPs and MP Correspondents. This extract is from her inspiring speech.
I have been involved with CAFOD for about four years. The organisation has been a huge part of my life and continues to shape me.
I must admit, when I first chose to volunteer with CAFOD, I applied for the Step into the Gap programme, hoping that it would give me a leg up in the education sector.
But, unexpectedly, I encountered what Pope Francis calls the ‘cry of the poor’. Through working alongside CAFOD, something switched on inside me: a sense of responsibility for the rights of my global family.
In November 2016, the Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold, visited El Salvador and Nicaragua. The last stop of his 10-day programme was to visit our friends in Puentecitos. These are some of his reflections.
We set off for a day in the rural area of Guaymango in the Department of Ahuachapan. It was about a two-hour journey to the West, almost to Guatemala. The good roads lasted until just a few miles from Guaymango and the last couple of miles were really nothing more than a single track of unmade road.
The scenery, however, was magnificent with mountains and volcanoes dominating the plain which stretched across to the ocean, which was clearly visible. Everything here is green and manages to remain so for most of the year. Agriculture is the basis of all livelihoods here though factories and assembly plants are increasingly present, together with small hotels which are hoping to see an increase in the tourist trade, particularly for what is apparently excellent surfing. This part of El Salvador was not so much directly affected by the war (1980-92) but many young men here were “pressed” into the army. The area has suffered in recent years by the increasing control of gangs.