This Lent children and young people all over England and Wales are walking in solidarity with the 200 million children around the world at risk of malnutrition. By setting up JustGiving pages and getting sponsored to walk, schools are rising thousands of pounds to fight hunger.
The global coronavirus pandemic is a defining moment for our generation. Some will remember the race to buy tins of beans and toilets rolls, the panic and fear – others will remember small acts of kindness, a loving community spirit, and the special items they treasured in lockdown.
Thomas Kimaru is a CAFOD volunteer in Southwark. This Volunteers’ Week, he describes how he was first inspired to volunteer by his parish priest in Kenya, and why he thinks it’s important to stay in touch during lockdown.
Welcome to our new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers! Read on to find out about their placements and what inspired them to join the programme.
Caroline Collins. Newman University, Birmingham
I’m Caroline and I’m based at Newman University in Birmingham. I first found out about CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme when I did my first gap year at The Briars Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I studied Human Geography at university, and since then my passion for social justice has grown. My degree allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the inequalities faced across the globe. As I was approaching the end of my studies, I realised I wanted to raise awareness and put my faith into action through working with CAFOD.
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.
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.
In July, Takura Gwatinyanya, from CAFOD partner Caritas Harare, will be travelling across England and Wales to share his passion for tackling poverty and to show how your support is making a difference in Zimbabwe.
Meet Takura and discover more about CAFOD’s climate and energy campaign at a series of special events, starting in London on Wednesday 6 July.
We caught up with Takura to ask his about his family, his work and what keeps him motivated.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to Rutendo Avriel, and we have one five-year-old son.
You’re an expert in water and sanitation. What makes you passionate about this area?
My experience in sanitation and humanitarian work has shown me that access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. It bring human dignity, with immediate and evidenced results. The need for decent water and sanitation cuts across all ages and all backgrounds, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor.
Pumps run on solar power are helping people in the communities where I work to access clean water and are reducing the time it takes people to collect water.
CAFOD ambassador Bethan is based with Southwark Catholic Youth Service.
I was at St. George’s Cathedral recently, working with young people making their Confirmation and I heard a talk from Laura at CAFOD, about her personal experience of the refugee crisis. She spoke about her visit to Lesbos and we were introduced to a new prayer resource inspired by a carpenter who has created crosses from a boat that capsized carrying hundreds of refugees, near a place called Lampedusa. These crosses were given to the survivors from the boat as a symbol and sign of hope.
Gillie Drinkall has been volunteering with CAFOD for nine years. About two years ago she started writing to her MP about CAFOD campaigns. Back then she joined a group of CAFOD supporters visiting parliament, and heard from Nick Hurd MP about the impact of our campaigning. Here she tells us that story.
I first joined CAFOD as an Education Volunteer. That decision was based as much on proximity to CAFOD’s headquarters as any spiritual calling. But, within weeks of me joining, CAFOD had moved from Brixton, near my home, slightly further afield to Romero House. Furthermore, as an Education Volunteer I found myself, unsurprisingly, in schools rather than the office.
Seven hugely enjoyable years later, I now, in addition to the schools volunteering, spend one day a week helping the Campaigns Team at Romero House. It was here that, slightly inadvertently, I became an MP Correspondent (MPC).
Each Fast Day, hundreds of CAFOD volunteers arrange to speak at Masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. Jed Murphy, a volunteer from the Southwark diocese, is one of these volunteers. He shares with us how he started volunteering and his top tips for a successful Fast Day talk.
Just over seven years ago I had one of those life-changing moments. I had a day’s annual leave and was lazing on my couch at home. Around me was every conceivable gadget you could think of: large TV, games console, several tablets & smartphones. And I thought to myself: I have all this and yet so many people around the world have nothing. I could not help but think it wasn’t right.
I felt that something had to change. I had to try and do something to make a difference.
I had grown up with CAFOD. I knew that they helped people in need around the world: but I knew little more than that. So I found the CAFOD website, learned a little more about what they did and clicked on a link to apply to be a volunteer. I wasn’t sure what I could do, or how I could help.
As part of the process I met one of the regional volunteer managers. His name was Jim and he was amazing. One of the things that he suggested was whether I would be willing to speak at Masses and make the appeal in support of CAFOD’s Lent and Harvest Fast Days.