Olwen Maynard has been at CAFOD for over thirty years. While reviewing project files to see what’s worked and what didn’t, she’s often amazed to see the difference that’s been made to people’s lives. On the International Day of Rural Women, Olwen shares Karima’s story.
Thumbing through CAFOD’s file on the Workers Advice Centre (WAC) in Israel, I was most surprised to see we’ve been supporting their work now for ten years. Roni Ben-Efrat, one of the amazing Israeli women who got WAC started back in the 1990s, argues convincingly that lasting peace in the Middle East is impossible until all the people living there can make a decent living. Many Arab families in the area known as the Triangle, a remote and largely rural part of northern Israel, live below the poverty line. It’s not easy to find jobs at all, and it’s especially hard for housewives and mothers, almost all of whom left school without any qualifications. WAC requested support from CAFOD to help them move into paid employment, and we agreed.
Karima Yahya was in her early forties, with six children old enough not to need her constantly around, and a husband who’d undergone heart surgery and was no longer able to work. With no money coming in, they were sinking further and further into debt. Then she met Wafa Tiara.
At the beginning of a new year, Laura Ouseley in our communications team has been looking into the situation in Guatemala and hoping for a brighter and more peaceful future for Guatemala’s indigenous peoples.
Twenty years have passed since Guatemala’s decades-long internal armed conflict was ended with Peace Accords signed in 1996. An estimated 200,000 civilians were killed or disappeared during the conflict, most at the hands of the military, police and intelligence services.
The 1996 Peace Accords aimed not just to put an end to the conflict, but to address its underlying causes, and to guarantee the rights of victims to truth, justice, reparation and no-repetition.
But despite being ‘at peace’ for twenty years, the country remains one of the most dangerous places in the world, and those who suffered most in the conflict – indigenous peoples – continue to face discrimination and poverty. So, what has been achieved over the last 20 years, and have indigenous peoples and women been able to access the justice they were promised?
In November 2016, the Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold, visited El Salvador and Nicaragua. The last stop of his 10-day programme was to visit our friends in Puentecitos. These are some of his reflections.
We set off for a day in the rural area of Guaymango in the Department of Ahuachapan. It was about a two-hour journey to the West, almost to Guatemala. The good roads lasted until just a few miles from Guaymango and the last couple of miles were really nothing more than a single track of unmade road.
The scenery, however, was magnificent with mountains and volcanoes dominating the plain which stretched across to the ocean, which was clearly visible. Everything here is green and manages to remain so for most of the year. Agriculture is the basis of all livelihoods here though factories and assembly plants are increasingly present, together with small hotels which are hoping to see an increase in the tourist trade, particularly for what is apparently excellent surfing. This part of El Salvador was not so much directly affected by the war (1980-92) but many young men here were “pressed” into the army. The area has suffered in recent years by the increasing control of gangs.
Ahead of Volunteers’ week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share their experiences with us. Here, Anne-Marie McBrien, a parish volunteer in the Portsmouth diocese, tells us why she makes time in a very busy schedule to help:
Firstly – because I was asked to! This is a very important point, I think, as lots of people don’t realise that CAFOD always needs more people to help and that you don’t need to do much to make a difference.
I was asked by an older parishioner to take on the role because she was tired and her husband was ill and I am younger and more mobile. I resisted at first because I do so many other things, and I have so little time, but I said yes because she needed someone to take it off her. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to devote any time to CAFOD. I was invited to, but couldn’t make, the supporter’s meeting just after I had taken on the role. I didn’t think it mattered really, as I gave the short talk at mass for Lent and I put up the posters I was sent. I felt I was too busy with other church things, school responsibilities and latterly, the Scouts. Too much to do!
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.
Kate is one of CAFOD’s gap year and is currently based with Just Youth in Salford. She has been visiting communities supported by CAFOD in Nicaragua, from where she has sent this blog:
This week we had the chance to work closely with ASOMUPRO one of CAFOD’s partners out here in Nicaragua, they are an Association of Women Producers working out in the most rural areas of Nicaragua to give employment and strengthen the hope to the women of Nicaragua.
The slogan of ASOMUPRO is “LAS GAVIOTAS” translated into English it means “Seagulls,” it could be seen as a very strange slogan, however there is a lot of meaning behind it.
And the meaning is that everyone working for ASOMUPRO are like geese, they work in a V formation. The idea behind this formation is that the front bird leads and when they get tired they set themselves back and someone else takes up their place. Geese all stick together and drive themselves forward. ASOMUPRO are a team, they work together, share common values and are lifted by the enthusiasm and energy of each other. This is why this is the slogan for ASOMUPRO. This was by far the overriding theme of the week. The women we met gave up their time to talk to us about the work of ASOMUPRO and how ASOMUPRO have greatly helped their lives. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – “Together we can achieve more””
Chrisis one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers working for the Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. He’s currently in Nicaragua to see CAFOD’s work and has sent back this blog:
“How can one person make a difference in the world?” It is a hard question to answer.
At the start of our trip Vicky, one of our kind accompaniers, explained to us how ASOMUPRO – the association of women producers who we spent the week with – starts making a difference with the women they work with. They do this by giving women the opportunity to start believing in themselves. ASOMUPRO says that in the Nicaraguan machista society, once women start saying “I can” that is half the battle won. And it is surprising how much the phrase “I can” came up throughout our week with ASOMUPRO.
Here is one of the stories of those people affected by ASOMUPRO, this will hopefully give you an insight into their work, on a personal level.