Niamh Melton is a CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer and is based at the Briars Centre, Nottingham. She recently returned from an overseas visit to Uganda. Here, she reflects on the experiences she had there.
Today is World Toilet Day. Abigail McMillan, in CAFOD’s South West and Wales team reflects on how the humble toilet is an often overlooked life-saver.
Toilets are generally a private subject; my mum would say not to be discussed at the dinner table. But professionally, World Toilet Day makes perfect sense to me. The world can be changed by toilets, and the Church takes toilets very seriously.
Following the tremendous response of Catholic parishioners in England and Wales to CAFOD’s Family Fast Day Appeal during Lent 2016, the UK Government doubled the nearly £5m that was donated by the general public. With this, we were able to instigate a water, sanitation and hygiene programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Madison McCulla works for one of CAFOD’s partners in Uganda, supporting people living with HIV and AIDS. She reflects on the achievements that have been made since the 1980s.
It is possible that AIDS could be eradicated within the next 15 years. If 90 per cent of all people worldwide living with HIV get tested, if 90 per cent of those who test positive go on treatment, and if 90 per cent of the people on treatment have the HIV virus supressed in their body (the UNAIDS targets for 2020), then research predicts that AIDS will be eradicated by 2030.
With more effective methods available and reduced costs for HIV prevention, testing and treatment, a world without AIDS becomes more realistic. However, a lot of work still needs to be done for these ‘ifs’ to be achieved.
Justin Rowntree owns the highly acclaimed Silversmith’s Restaurant in Sheffield. On 5 June he ran the Ugandan Marathon in memory of his late mum, Sarojini, his grandmother, Angelina, and to support CAFOD. He set himself the challenge of raising £4,000 to cover the cost of building a borehole in the Gulu region of Uganda. He spoke to CAFOD’s Katherine Binns about the race:
The week before the marathon was truly life changing. Meeting people in the remotest of villages rebuilding their lives after 20 years of war, [and seeing] their dignity, determination and relentless strength to improve their lives is something we in the west can learn so much from.
I saw how wells already implemented by CAFOD changed the fortune and lives of whole communities. No six hour trips for water by the children meant school could be attended, hygiene and health improved tenfold, and crops had a chance to survive drought.
As one village leader said to me “building a well is giving life, as here water is life”
I decided to attempt a Channel swim (although admittedly it was in my local swimming pool rather than the cold waters of the Channel) in solidarity with girls like Proscovia, who have to walk two to four hours just to get the water they need.
Damian Conlin, from our fundraising team, has set himself a Lent challenge to run 5km at least once a week to a local water source. He reflects on how his challenge has helped him think about those who need to take hours out of their day simply to collect the water they need to survive.
I rise early. I climb reluctantly from my warm bed and dress quietly in the dark, not wanting to wake my family. I stretch a few times then step out of the house into the cold morning. With only the faint glow of the streetlights to show me the way, I begin to run.
It is Lent and I have a new challenge. Before completing my usual morning routine and going to work, I have to find time at least once a week to go to the local river.
Elsewhere a young girl rises early. She too climbs reluctantly from her bed, dresses quickly and efficiently and leaves the family home. She lifts up the large water containers and begins to walk.
She too has a new challenge. She is now deemed old enough to take on certain responsibilities. So, instead of completing her usual morning routine of getting ready for school, she is going to the local river to collect water.
Despite the parallel storylines there are worlds of difference between the trips.
CAFOD writer, Mark Chamberlain recently travelled to Uganda. This Mothering Sunday, he writes on some of the women he met and how they reminded him of his own family.
There was a point when I stood sheltering from those first welcome rains that everything seemed still. It was so strange. Teko Anna’s children running through that heavy roar – Daphne, her nine-year-old over there under the roof of her uncle’s house, jumping in the quickly forming puddles. The younger ones watching Daphne, following her, copying her actions with awkward limbs, splashing though the same puddles.
Proscovia now through the lines of water running with a box of ducklings, bringing them in from the rain.