Sharon Weerasuriya is spending her year on CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme. Earlier this year, she felt privileged when she was able to visit the Holy Land, where she met with CAFOD’s partners. Here, she shares her reflections from meeting young people when she visited, Sadaka Reut, a youth partnership organisation and one of CAFOD’s partners based in Jaffa, Israel.
The team of Step into the Gap volunteers have been running sessions, retreats and activities with young people this term on refugees. We asked Kezia and Juliette to tell us a bit about their favourite resources.
Placing yourself in a refugee’s position is so difficult. Over the past month I’ve been trying to help young people experience what it’s like to leave your home, to feel the emotions and make decisions that some refugees have to make.
Caroline Collins is a Step into the Gap volunteer at Newman University in Birmingham. This week she is getting ready for Family Fast Day.
At Newman University we have been preparing to swap our usual Friday lunch boxes for a simple soup lunch.
For so many of our brothers and sisters around the world, the harvest determines whether their families will go to bed hungry tonight.
For Lilian in Zambia, a good harvest is so important. It means she can feed herself and her family in the coming months, and sell any extra food to buy school clothes, books and materials to build a home.
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.
Kathleen O’Brien works in the schools team and travelled to Sierra Leone with the Step into the Gap volunteers earlier this year.
Entering Sierra Leone’s capital on a quiet morning, I could hear the happy cries of children echoing out of the glassless windows of the Malamakaningo pre-primary school.
This was a stark contrast from a year ago. In August 2017 the school was used to shelter people who had lost their homes in a disaster from which Freetown is only beginning to recover. Torrential rain battered the city for three days, and in the early hours of August 14, floodwaters and landslides ploughed through the areas surrounding the capital, killing 1,141 people and displacing three times that number.
Rod travelled to Cambodia with the Step into the Gap programme to meet CAFOD partners and the communities they work with. One year on from his trip, Rod reflects on what it all meant to him.
The way in which Cambodia changed me seems to come into view and then fall out again, oscillating in the busyness of life. When I was speaking to people about my trip to Cambodia almost every day, when it was my life, the changes it had made to me were more obvious. Now, to a certain extent they have become more blurred, because I am not thinking about the trip so much. But they are also clearer because I am able to look back at how it changed me from a distance.
Isabel Marsh, who is currently on placement at St Cassian’s Centre, reflects on her time in El Salvador before she embarks on her fundraising journey 0 the Colchester half marathon.
Less than 12 hours after arriving in El Salvador, our group set off for the University of Central America (UCA) to meet with one of CAFOD’s partners. The UCA is a private university, meaning they are able to charge fees for students (but there are several scholarships and bursaries available) and are not reliant on government funding. This has meant the University has more autonomy and does not need to follow the views of the government, providing it with an independent and non-biased voice.
We were led to the Social Outreach Vice-Rectorate, for our meeting with Omar Serrano, the Vice-Rector. We spent the morning with Omar and his colleague Eduardo. Omar shared with us about El Salvador – its history; politics; society and social norms and economy.