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.
We’d like to introduce and welcome the new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers as they settle into their placements this week. Read on to find out a little bit about the 2017/2018 team as they gear up for a year of volunteering with CAFOD.
Christopher Burkette – Walsingham House, Brentwood
Hello, my name is Christopher. I am 18 years old and over the next year I am going to be doing a placement at Walsingham House within the Brentwood diocese in the South-East of the UK. I have been previously involved with the work of CAFOD at a campaign raising awareness of the growing issues surrounding Climate Change – One Climate One World; for me an important topic, more today than ever as the effects of climate change appear so prominent in the World around us. For me, it is important for us to care for the World around us – given to us by God as a gift: one we must be stewards of, spend special attention to and care for.
I joined the Step into the Gap programme once the opportunity arose due to my desire to really help people in the wider world around me – I felt the programme gave me an opportunity to make a real difference! This joined with the fact that I have always took an interest in the many varied works of CAFOD. I wanted to be a part of it – in some way acting to represent the values set by CAFOD – not just in work but in my everyday lifestyle. I think that many people don’t have a full grasp of the spectrum of how far-reaching CAFOD work and the amount of people’s lives of which are transformed completely through action of CAFOD and their partners. I feel that I can be a very vocal person, and so feel that the Step into the Gap programme is helpful for me spreading this message of love to others and act towards visible change!
“Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.” Laudato Si #13
We know that many young people take action with CAFOD, working together to overcome poverty and injustice throughout the world. Many of our partners across the world empower young people to transform their societies.
We’re inspired by them, and know that young people in the UK have the same ability to take the lead, which is why we focus on this area of work in the UK, supporting young people to be key influencers of their peers and local communities.
The CAFOD Young Leadership programme is one of the ways we engage a younger audience in our work, offering sixth-formers an opportunity to take the lead by volunteering for CAFOD to make a difference in fighting poverty and injustice.
As Lent comes to an end, Step into the Gap volunteer, Charlotte Bray, who is currently volunteering at Newman Chaplaincy, reflects on her recent trip to Cambodia and how this has inspired her Lent challenge.
When I travelled to Cambodia, as part of the Step into the Gap programme, I went with the expectation that I would meet some incredible people. I never realised that the encounters I had would have such a transformative effect on my life.
While I was in Cambodia, I had the pleasure of meeting an incredibly strong and resilient woman called Suong, she taught me a profound lesson that has changed the way I view the world.
Cameron is a CAFOD young leader and volunteered at Flame 2017, an event for 10,000 young Catholics on 11 March. Alongside around 50 other young volunteers, he ran activities with the Flame crowd to raise awareness of CAFOD and global justice issues.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with CAFOD at Flame. This was an enjoyable experience and I had a really nice day. For anyone who doesn’t know, Flame is a Catholic event held at the SSE Arena, Wembley. At Flame there are many different speakers and performers such as Matt Redman.
The day started with joining the mini bus in order to take us to Wembley. As we arrived we got into the groups got to know what activities we’d be running as we were volunteering and not just here to watch the performances!
The Step into the Gap volunteers have been meeting many communities in Cambodia, whose lives have been impacted by the support of CAFOD’s partners. Rod Howlett reflects on how a little bit of funding and support can transform a whole community.
It is the fourth full day in Cambodia and our first full day visiting a community that CAFOD supports. We’ve had the time for briefing, adjusting to Cambodian culture and getting rid of jet lag as best we can.
Today we will be able to have our first proper conversations with the villagers, finding out how they have been helped by CAFOD’s funding. This first community is the Ou Breus in Rukhakiri District, Battambang Province.
Here, CAFOD has provided the money for a local organisation, Village Support Group (VSG), to set up a three-year project working with the community to help them find the means to diminish the level of poverty in the village.
Hannah Henley, who is currently taking part in CAFOD’s Step in the Gap, writes this report about meeting an inspirational mother and son in Ethiopia. She explains how with the help of CAFOD’s local partners, people are not only living but thriving with a HIV positive status.
The first few days of our Ethiopian adventure have been full of inspiration, admiration and flavour. We have been staying with CAFOD partners, The Daughters of Charity, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
I think I can speak for the whole group when I say we couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome – and that’s nothing to do with the 27 degrees weather. We have been lucky enough to spend time three wonderful sisters, CAFOD staff, and are getting to know our driver Soloman.
The Daughters of Charity run a HIV and AIDS clinic. The project provides testing for HIV, a HIV prevention programme, financial support, heath and sanitation training and business training.
Hannah, our gap year volunteer at St Mary’s Academy in Blackpool is getting ready for a Brighten Up event for Harvest. Here are her tips for a great fundraiser.
The Chaplaincy Team at St. Mary’s are Brightening Up for Harvest Fast Day this year with a handful of activities for students and staff to get involved in throughout the week. These include quizzes, fairground games and taste tests! The grande finale of the week will be a Staff Talent Show, taking place at lunchtime so that the students can buy tickets to see it.
The staff at St. Mary’s are clearly a talented bunch, they’ll be showing off their breakdancing, singing, musical instruments and will even perform some drama! Our students are in for a treat as they’ll be Brightening Up their school uniform with colourful accessories and CAFOD wristbands.
Applications for the CAFOD Gap Year, Step into the Gap, are now open. Julia Corcoran took part in the programme in 2013 /14, and in this blog describes her experience.
Two years ago I wrote a reflection on why I was really excited to be travelling to Sierra Leone. In those two years my life has taken a completely different turn and that’s mainly down to my experiences on Step into the Gap.Find out more about Step into the Gap
During my time on the programme my placement was at YMT, (the Youth service for Hexham and Newcastle) running retreats in the Emmaus Youth Village where groups of young people come to take time out, reflect on their lives, realise the impact they have on the world and hopefully the impact God has in their lives. During my time there I had a variety of opportunities to work with young people from leading Morning Prayer, helping to run youth festivals and running workshops, as well as going into schools for assemblies and speaking during Mass in the local parishes and at the Cathedral.
We have arrived, safe and sound in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. The weather is beautiful – sunny and warm. The journey was long and tiring, but we were all very excited to get our first view of Harare in the drive from the airport. Many things were surprising and new to us – people grilling corn on the cob on stones at the side of the road, people selling newspapers in the middle of the traffic or carrying crates of bread on their heads. We were all ready for the lovely evening meal at the Dominican Convent, where we received a very warm welcome from the sisters, which immediately made us feel at ease and at home.
Getting ready for a long awaited good night’s sleep turned out to be more eventful than expected. Leila locked herself out of her room and camped out on Lizzie’s floor, Lizzie temporarily broke the tap in the shower, Keiron overcame his fear of spiders thanks to the company of a particularly big black one in his room, and although Mary was missing her phone and the internet, all in all, we enjoyed a great rest.