Give it up: visiting schools this Lent

Gillie Drinkall is a CAFOD school volunteer who has been visiting schools in South London to talk about Zimbabwe, and to introduce the Lent Give it up challenge. 

Gillie is a school volunteer who has been sharing stories from Zimbabwe this Lent as part of the give it up appeal
Gillie delivering the CAFOD Lent assembly.

A primary school in South London.  A very small boy approached me and apologised for not being at my previous assembly as he was in hospital.  He then confided, with breathless excitement, “It’s my birthday in six days’ time!”. I wished him “Happy Birthday … in six days’ time” and turned to a slightly older boy who wanted to know how to give money to CAFOD as soon as possible.  I was reminded how much I enjoy talking to small children.

I have scheduled visits to an unusually high number of schools this Lent to share stories from Zimbabwe and to talk about the Give it up challenge.  As ever, until the first assembly unfolds, I am never quite sure how the children will respond.  This time I was going to try and show all the schools the short film featuring Svondo and his mother Marian who live in Zimbabwe.

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Why I volunteer: “…the best decision you will ever make!”

This Lent, Joe Andrew celebrated 20 years of volunteering with CAFOD.  Here, he writes about the journey on which volunteering has taken him:

My involvement with the Catholic Church and with groups like CAFOD has gone in waves or cycles all my life. As a teenager I was an altar boy, went to Mass several times a week, and did house-to-house collections, sponsored events, all that kind of thing.

Volunteer Joe Andrew accepts a cheque from pupils at English Martyrs school in the Birmingham Diocese
Volunteer Joe Andrew accepts a cheque from pupils at English Martyrs school in the Birmingham Diocese

In my 40s I returned to my youthful faith and enthusiasms, and with it a renewed sense that ‘faith without deeds is dead’.  With a few like-minded people in the parish I helped set up a local CAFOD group. We did lots of different stuff: raised money by auctions, coffee mornings, raffles and all the things that Catholics are so good at. Within a few years, I felt the need to go further, and applied successfully to become what was then known as a Covenant Volunteer for Birmingham Archdiocesan CAFOD. (‘Covenant’ meant that you ‘covenanted’, that is, committed to spend x hours a year on work for CAFOD).

Now the arrangements are more informal and you do what you can. For me my main role is as a Media Volunteer, and I also speak at Mass around the two Fast Days, visit a few local schools at those times, and also help out with fixing up speakers at Mass for the two Fast Days.

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