Bringing childhoods back to life

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon.

Syrian refugee children at schoolSo I’m flying home early this morning after three eye-opening days in Lebanon – expertly guided by CAFOD and their partners on the ground Caritas Lebanon. As we wind slowly upwards away from Beirut, I’m thinking of all the children we met in the past few days.

Help a refugee child. This charity gift will give much-needed emotional and educational support to children who have fled the violent trauma of war. Continue reading “Bringing childhoods back to life”

“I want to be an engineer so that I can rebuild Syria”

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

Thursday morning and we’re up before dawn to take the winding road to Qartaba, nestling in Mount Lebanon.

A beautiful morning in Qartaba.
A beautiful morning in Qartaba.

It’s a beautiful clear day as the sun comes up and we arrive at the home of a family of six refugees from Syria.

They’re living in a couple of rooms in a house which is still being built – but there’s a stove burning and the four children are happily pouring tea and having breakfast.

And even better – Hussein, 11, Mostafa, 10 and Amar who’s 6 are just about to put on their school uniforms.

Help a refugee child. This charity gift will give much-needed emotional and educational support to children who have fled the violent trauma of war.

Continue reading ““I want to be an engineer so that I can rebuild Syria””

Future? What do you mean by future?

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

It is Wednesday afternoon and we’re sitting on the floor of a shack covered in tarpaulin with eight year old Karim, where he’s been living with his family since fleeing Syria.

Karim picking potatoes.
Karim picking potatoes.

He was up at 6am this morning picking potatoes in the neighbouring field to bring in a few dollars a week for his family. He is a strikingly handsome young boy – bright eyed and smart – and he’s sick of having to work.

Help a refugee child Continue reading “Future? What do you mean by future?”

The Child Breadwinners of Bekaa

Presenter and reporter Julie Etchingham travelled to Lebanon to see the work of CAFOD partner Caritas Lebanon. 

The brothers working at the bakery.
The brothers working at the bakery.

In a side road in a small town in the Bekaa Valley Yazan and Majed are hard at work. They are brothers aged 10 and 11. Their day started in darkness, getting up at 4am they were a bit scared to be going out before dawn, to get to their jobs in a local bakery.

The tiny bakery turns out flatbreads for local restaurants. The boys work alongside two grown men. The adults receive $40 (£30) a day. The boys get $3 (£2.30) a day between them. But these meagre earnings are vital for their family to survive after fleeing the war in Syria.

Donate to CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Appeal. Continue reading “The Child Breadwinners of Bekaa”

Gifts in wills: Lisl’s legacy of love

CAFOD legacy officer Hannah Caldwell shares the inspiring story of Lisl Steiner, who fled the Nazis, became a teacher and continues to change children’s lives by the gift she left to CAFOD in her will.

There are so many inspirational people at the heart of CAFOD’s work, each with their own story. I’m lucky that in my job every now and then I get to hear a little more of some of these stories.

One that I often think of is that of Lisl Steiner, who supported CAFOD for many years and remembered us with a gift in her will.

Lisl was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, 1923. At 15, as the world was on the brink of war and Jews were suffering cruelty and persecution at the hands of the Nazi regime, she made a lonely journey to England.

Continue reading “Gifts in wills: Lisl’s legacy of love”

World Humanitarian Day – a day with Syrian refugees

Each year since 2009, World Humanitarian Day has been held on 19 August to mobilise support for people affected by crises around the world and to pay tribute to all those who risk their lives in humanitarian service. Yadviga Clark, CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Officer for the Syria Crisis response, shares her experiences of visiting Syrian refugees that have settled in Lebanon.

Conflict so often affects innocent people – many flee for their lives, families are torn apart and displaced from their homes, children are traumatised and taken out of school, and aid workers risk their lives to care for people caught up in the violence.

Pray for all those affected by conflict

Last month I spent a day with Syrian refugee children who are living in an informal settlement in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon.

Continue reading “World Humanitarian Day – a day with Syrian refugees”

World Refugee Day: Building trust and friendship

Olwen Maynard is a member of the Asia and Middle East team. She tells us how bringing young people together in Lebanon is helping to build trust among local people and Syrian refugees.

Boys in the Handicrafts class create a sign: ‘Youth across borders: facing life challenges together.”

There’s been a lot of heart-searching in this country about taking in Syrian refugees, and how many would be our ‘fair share’. Something we tend to forget is that most displaced Syrians are still in the Middle East region. Lebanon, a small country with a population of about four million (half that of Greater London), has taken in over a million. Just stop and think about that for a minute.

This World Refugee Day donate to our Refugee Crisis Appeal for refugees around the world. Continue reading “World Refugee Day: Building trust and friendship”

World Refugee Day: Send a message of hope

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg98m9DY3lE]

For World Refugee Day, CAFOD communications officer, Mark Chamberlain reflects on attitudes towards refugees

In the past fortnight a time machine took me back to the late 1980s. I was sitting watching my favourite tea-time programme: a re-run, in glorious Technicolor, of a McCarthy-era, American sci-fi series.

The meek, unsuspecting earthlings were being duped again, by the cold, cunning aliens. More invaders had landed in their town and were taking over. But the only people that could see this were a small boy who kept shouting for people to listen…and me.

Send a message of hope to refugees on World Refugee Day Continue reading “World Refugee Day: Send a message of hope”

Where are the Doors of Mercy?

Catherine Gorman from our Theology Programme reflects on the Doors of Mercy, where they can be seen in our world and how we can open them to others.

Refugees being directed at a barrier checkpoint, on their way to cross the Greek-Macedonian border.A couple of weeks’ ago I walked through the Door of Mercy at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark with CAFOD colleagues from all around the country. We were praying for refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes in search of a better life. And as we heard the stories of our brothers and sisters from around the world, intertwined with Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and prayers, we were moved – imagining ourselves in their shoes, and recognising the need for God’s mercy in our world.

Download our Year of Mercy refugee pilgrimage resources

As Pope Francis has said: “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” (Misericordiae Vultus #14)

As we passed through the door, I had a real sense that I and my colleagues were truly (re)committing ourselves to share God’s mercy with others, a sense that has stayed with me since.

Continue reading “Where are the Doors of Mercy?”

Lost Family Portraits: meeting Souraya’s family

Nana Anto-Awuakye is CAFOD’s World News Manager. She recently met families living in the Bekka refugee camp in Lebanon as part of CAFOD’s Lost Family Portaits project.

Nana with young refugee children
Nana playing with some of the young children at Bekka refugee camp

Last Christmas, various family members snapped away on their latest mobile phone cameras, and we all dutifully posed for the camera. I asked for the unflattering photos of me to be deleted, my sister refused saying, “It’s Christmas, and we are all together.”

Only a few weeks earlier I was in Lebanon’s Bekka valley, just nine kilometres from the Syrian border. I was working with our partner Caritas Lebanon Migrant Centre, the photographer Dario Mitidieri, and the creative agency M&C Saatchi to photograph family portraits of Syrian refugees inside some of the informal camp settlements in the Bekka.

See the Lost Family Portraits

Our arrival with the photography crew creates an air of excitement, as children run out from the labyrinth pathways in between the tented dwellings, as if the Pied Piper were calling them.

The camp leader, or ‘Chawish’ tells me: “Every family here has someone missing; they are either dead, kidnapped, or trapped.”

Continue reading “Lost Family Portraits: meeting Souraya’s family”