Hopes for the new school year

This week mother-of-three Catherine Jones is saying goodbye to the summer holidays and preparing for a new school term. In this blog she talks about her hopes for the year ahead.

CAFOD children going back to school
The children going back to school

The youngest of our three children, Martha, starts in year 1 this week. And after the summer break, my immediate thoughts are practical. How on earth will we all manage to be out of the house before 8.30am? Where is the favourite Star Wars lunch box? Do the PE kits still fit?

Explore CAFOD’s Education resources

I remember different feelings a year ago, when Martha began in reception. We had celebrated her 4th birthday just days before and now she was off to big school. She looked so small in her uniform, with her huge school bag and shiny new shoes. How would she react when we had to say goodbye at the door? Would the teacher allow her to keep hold of her cuddly monkey?

And the fears don’t go away. Will school restrict Martha’s curiosity and imagination? Will she make friends? Trying to support her and her big brother and sister as they come to the realisation that there are people in their class and the world who are very different to them.

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Great generation: My year as a CAFOD young leader

Flavia at the CAFOD young leaders celebration day.
Flavia at the CAFOD young leaders celebration day.

Flavia has been volunteering for CAFOD this year as part of the Young Leadership Programme. She’s had a busy year of fundraising, campaigning and raising awareness in her school of CAFOD’s work and social justice issues that are important to her.

Earlier this year Flavia was nominated for the Dorothy Day award, a Million Minutes award for fostering community participation. Here is an extract from her sixth form leavers’ speech, where she reflected on the journey she’s had in college and with CAFOD over the past twelve months.

My journey began last year when I went on a climate change rally to lobby MPs. At first I wasn’t very interested in the topic, however after going on the rally and understanding the impact that our voice has in the world we live in, it really surprised me that I can make a change. It may not be a massive change, but I learnt very quickly throughout this year that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

Download our Olympic resources to explore global justice issues with your youth group, class or group of friends.

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Schools volunteers take our Lampedusa Cross pilgrimage

Susan Kambalu works in our schools team, and recently joined CAFOD schools volunteers reflecting on the refugee crisis with our Lampedusa Cross pilgrimage resource. She describes her thoughts and feelings as she went through the stations.

CAFOD schools volunteers writing messages of hope for refugees
Schools volunteers left messages of hope for refugees

“Look down at what you are wearing. If you have a bag with you, consider what is in it.”

It was a warm day; I wore a dress and cardigan but no jacket, and soft shoes. They would not last long if I had to flee like Amina, a refugee in Darfur; if the weather changed I would have no protection against the elements. I happened to have my passport in my handbag that day, an unusual occurrence for me, but an important document that links me to the country of my birth. I had my house keys: but what use would they be if I could not go home? My wallet had a few coins, a bank card, a passport photo of my husband – the money would not get me far, neither would the contents of my bank account if I could no longer go to work. My mobile phone would provide a link with my family, directions to another destination, photos that would provide me with memories of my life and home – but only until the battery ran out, as I had no charger with me.

What prompted me to reflect on my clothes, my handbag? To wonder how I would get on with only the items I had with me, away from home? I was taking part in our new Lampedusa Cross refugee pilgrimage, an ideal opportunity to reflect on “welcoming the outsider” during this Year of Mercy.

Download CAFOD’s Lampedusa Cross pilgrimage for young people

It has been a privilege to be involved in this term’s training days for our school volunteers. Last week I spent the day with about fifteen volunteers in Portsmouth diocese; last month I spent a day visiting our Birmingham volunteers. Over the past term, 100 schools volunteers have been trained in leading this poignant pilgrimage. They now have the resources to support your local Catholic primary or secondary school in learning more about the current refugee crisis and praying for those looking for a safe place to stay.

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Learning about climate in class

Katie Thilthorpe works in the CAFOD Schools Team. She recently received a batch of letters and work from children in XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire who have been exploring life in El Salvador.

Letter-to-El-Salvador
Letters to El Salvador

“After I saw your beautiful landscape I wished I could live in El Salvador but the only thing that makes me sad is the water pollution. That’s why we are raising money for your country and right now we have £500. When we raise enough we will send it to CAFOD and they will send it to you. I hope that you will have nice clean water and I hope to see you and the Sierra Madre mountains one day.” Olivia, Year 4.

Since its release in 2015 primary schools across England and Wales have been using CAFOD’s El Salvador geography photo pack, including XII Apostles Primary School in Lancashire. All the children in the school aged 7-11 have been using the resources, and in March the pupils wrote letters to the four children featured in the pack. The school kindly sent some of the letters to us and I was lucky enough to read them.

Order your free copy of the El Salvador Education Pack

The El Salvador pack, which can be ordered or downloaded online, includes a country map, information sheets, photo cards and links to brilliant online films, which bring the stories and themes from the pack to life. Continue reading “Learning about climate in class”

Lenten works of mercy: Love and mercy in action

Our final Friday blog on Lenten works of mercy is from schools volunteer Penny Morse.

Uganda David-306
Guti (far left) and her friends collecting safe clean water from a local pump in Uganda.

During Lent I have been visiting  primary schools in the Clifton diocese, meeting children and sharing stories from Uganda in assemblies and workshops. In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis e invites us to be living signs of Jesus’ love. This Lent I’ve really seen these living signs of love and mercy lived out through children’s actions.

Support CAFOD’s Lent water appeal

Here’s a flavour of what I’ve observed these past few weeks.

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International Day of Literacy: Spend a day with Musa

A day with Musa
CAFOD’s big book for children

To celebrate International Day of Literacy, children’s author and primary school teacher Russ Brown explains how CAFOD’s big book for children can excite the imagination and help children’s understanding of the wider world.

 “A big book to promote big talk”  Russ Brown

 Today is International Day of Literacy, a day to celebrate the importance of literacy around the world.

CAFOD’s big book, A day with Musa, takes us on a journey through an ordinary day for an ordinary child in Bangladesh. It raises the simple question of how are we different, while cleverly showing children how fundamentally we are all the same, regardless of skin, language or belief.

Buy A day with Musa

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World Gifts: why I’m asking for alternative presents this Christmas

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Bernadette in Nicaragua with CAFOD

Bernadette Goddard took part in the Step into the Gap programme last year. In this blog she describes why the work of partners in Nicaragua inspired her to ask for World Gifts as Christmas presents this year.

As Christmas approaches every year I am asked the question what would I like. It’s a double question for me as my birthday is just five days before Christmas, on 20 December. Each year I receive many gifts, often ones which, if I’m honest, I don’t need or use. In previous years I’ve asked for things which would be useful. Last year I was about to embark on a life changing trip with CAFOD to Nicaragua and people helped with my kit list, buying me useful items to take with me such as torches and plug adapters! This Christmas I have decided to appeal to family and friends on social media to buy World Gifts.

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Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!

We’d like to introduce the new CAFOD gap year volunteers! They’ve been settling into their new placements with our Step into the Gap scheme and have each written a few words on their hopes for the year ahead.

Bea – Nottingham 

Bea has joined Step into the Gap in Nottingham
Bea has joined Step into the Gap in Nottingham

Hello I’m Bea and I’m part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme based at The Briars Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I wanted to explore my passion for social justice, so when the opportunity arose to be on the Step into the Gap programme I jumped at the chance! And I can’t believe I’m part of – it’s so exciting!

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