As we enter the last few weeks of our project, everywhere we look we are greeted by signs of transformation. Our dam and wells are filling, people’s gardens and our community farm are starting to produce harvests, and the landscape is so much greener than just two years ago.
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.
Yadviga Clark is CAFOD’s Gender Coordinator. Today, on International Women’s Day, she shares the story of Dawi from Ethiopia whose community is coming together to tackle challenges faced by women and girls.
Today is a day to honour the achievements of women and girls across the world. Very often I think how privileged I am to be born and live in a society where as a woman I feel safe, protected and have an opportunity to develop my full potential. I can freely exercise my rights to education, family life and a career. At the same time, on this particular day my thoughts are with thousands of women and girls who are deprived of their childhood, have no voice, no rights, are hungry, exhausted from hard work and are physically and emotionally abused.
Our Lent Appeal this year tells the story of Proscovia, a 14 year old girl who nearly had to stop going to school because she had to spend so much of her day collecting water. Our partners in Uganda repaired her village borehole and now Proscovia is able to continue with her education.
For CAFOD, International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate the vision and bravery of women who are fighting for equality, their human rights and an end to poverty. The women we work with are trying to overcome the social, economic and political barriers which stop them reaching their full potential. In Ethiopia, our partner organisation HUNDEE is working with women, men and local leaders to empower women at home and in the community, with the aim of reducing harmful traditional practices and achieving greater gender equality in the community. The project supports women’s self-help groups and has set up community conversation forums to engage with the wider community.
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.
Today is Lent Fast Day, a day to think about how we can help provide water for all. Giving water to the thirsty is a very practical and valued act of mercy, as CAFOD gap year volunteer Bea Findley explains.
In England and Wales, it’s hard to believe there is a shortage of water in the world.
The toilet will always flush and the tap will always work. We are told to save water, yet look out the window and see rain pour down. Whilst it may be difficult to understand coming from a British climate that water is precious, today on Lent Fast Day, I’m remembering why it’s so important to stand in solidarity with people around the world who are in need of water.
One of the corporal works of mercy is to ‘give drink to the thirsty’, and Pope Francis calls us to do just that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Last month I visited CAFOD partner CEAS in Peru, and saw just how precious water is in one particular community.
Leila Bousbaa was part of the the Step into the Gap programme in 2014/15 and travelled to Zimbabwe to meet CAFOD partners as part of the programme. This Lent Leila is remembering the water projects she visited.
I’ve been thinking a lot about water these past few days since hearing about CAFOD’s Lent water campaign. This time last year I witnessed first-hand the struggles that come with lack of water.
As part of the Step into the Gap programme I visited CAFOD partner projects in Zimbabwe. One visit that impacted me greatly was a water project in Lubu. Here I met a community at the top of a rocky crevasse and together we ventured down the slippery slopes. Going down was hard enough, little did I know about what hiking back up would entail. Before the water project was implemented, the women in the community would have to make this journey carrying 20 litres of water on their head, often with another five litres of water in each hand, and sometimes barefoot with a baby on their back. And all of this had to be done three times a day!
About Hands On: Hands On is a special series of CAFOD projects, that are funded directly by supporters. Hands On Kitui is our first project, and although this is coming to an end, our newest project community are in need of support.
Mariacristina Lubrano from our digital team tells us about her colleagues who have taken up some really exciting challenges this Lent.
Lent is a special moment for many people at CAFOD and, like every year, we got together to make this Lent count. So many people shared with me their Lenten projects and I am really excited to tell you about some of the things that my colleagues are up to.
Hopefully you will feel inspired by some of the ideas and please keep us in your thoughts and prayers while we carry on with our Lenten challenges.
CAFOD gap year volunteer Danielle Storey has written about how climate change is impacting upon water supplies in Zimbabwe. Our 2016 Lent Appeal is focused on providing people with access to water.
The climate is changing. We can all easily fall into the habit of ignoring it, thinking it doesn’t affect me or it’s not that bad, my actions are only small so I can’t do anything about it. That’s what I thought too before I began my gap year with CAFOD. However countries all over the world, especially in recent years, are beginning to feel the effects of extreme weather events, including the UK with the recent devastating floods. We need to acknowledge that climate change is real and affecting people now.
Zimbabwe, along with other sub-Saharan African countries, is experiencing a severe drought. A priest we met while visiting CAFOD partner Mashambanzou told us that this is by far the worst he’s ever seen in the 30 years he’s been here. It’s been evident since we arrived here in Zimbabwe when we saw how dry and small the maize and other crops were for this time of year – there hadn’t been any rain for six weeks and it’s supposed to be the rainy season. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The effects of climate change on water”
Bea Findley, one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers, has written about how water shortages are affecting communities in Peru:
We are about half way through our time in Peru now and I can’t believe it! It’s all happening so fast – I wish I could slow it down! I had a great week last week with partners on the outskirts of Lima and this week, we’re amongst the mountains.
We’ve been spending time with CAFOD partner CEAS, which is a social action commission of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.
CEAS’ work in Ancash is about fair water distribution and empowering the local community. All the water sustaining this region is from Lake Parón – an incredible natural resource high in the mountains. Streams and rivers flow down the mountains from the lake to all of the communities and families. Lake Parón sits beneath glaciers. As they melt and the rain falls, the lake fills and sends water to the communities. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Water is a precious commodity”