All I want for Christmas…is bees

Victoria Ahmed works in CAFOD’s education team.

Socks, check. Dad’s book, check. Queen bee, check.

Like many people, I’ve been rushing about this week in a mild panic. When’s the last date for online delivery orders? Have I missed the last post?  I’ve been scribbling away on my little present checklist, making sure I’ve remembered everything. The Happy queen bee World Gift is probably my favourite on the list to buy this year, and both my five year old God- daughter and my 89 year old Nan will be proud owners of one come Christmas morning.

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World Gifts for Father’s Day – All my dad wants is a smile

Rachel works on World Gifts at CAFOD. She tells us why she buys her dad a World Gift for Father’s Day and how it makes them both smile.

I sadly don’t see my dad very often, so every year I try extra hard around Father’s Day. Really I think we both see it as an excuse for the shops to make money and sell a lot of stuff we don’t need! So, I arrange to see dad, but first, I always ask him if there’s anything he’d like as a present. I try not to always buy chocolates as he could do with losing a pound or two (!) – I suggest a book, a ticket to an exhibition, but he insists that all he wants is a smile.

African girl holding the goat she received from CAFOD
Buy the World Gifts Goat that gives and bring a smile to the lives of others

Working on World Gifts at CAFOD has given me lots of new ideas for ways to show my dad that I appreciate and love him and make him smile. Plus, I know my gift’s helping someone who’s in real need, and bringing a smile to their face too! Here our some of our best charity gifts for dads.

Browse CAFOD’s charity gift range of unusual presents 

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Giving thanks for our little one by helping other babies

Julia, who works at CAFOD, shares how her reflections on the lives of others around the world changed with the experience of being pregnant with her first child.

My son's Baptism invitation card with the World Gifts sticker on it
My son’s Baptism invitation card with the World Gifts sticker on it

Living in the UK, I  knew that if there were any problems with my baby that I would immediately receive the care I needed. I chose to buy World Gifts for my son’s Baptism as a way of giving something back to those living in poverty.

Browse our Baptism World Gifts

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Advent: Hope amidst the gloom

Sue Cooper, a CAFOD supporter from Corpus Christi parish in Wokingham, reflects on what Advent means to her as a time of hope and light amongst the winter gloom and darkness.

Sue Cooper at a CAFOD supporter event in Parliament
Sue Cooper (left) at a CAFOD supporter event in Parliament

How I dislike this time of year. The dark nights and the cold, wet weather force me inside, and living in an area of the South where it rarely snows, there’s not even that brightness to lighten my mood.  The news, too, speaks of horror in Syria and tumult in Iraq as well as an uncertain future for us here. It is miserable, but amidst the gloom there is hope.

The Sunday Mass readings throughout Advent warn us to ready ourselves and our anticipation of future events is filled with light and expectation. We have not been abandoned in the darkness, there is one who is coming to us who brings peace and cares for those on the margins. And in preparation to welcome the one who comes, we must respond to the call of John the Baptist and “repent” and change our ways.  As the weeks unfold the anticipation and the excitement grow: the Word is made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, is coming!

Follow our Advent calendar of daily reflection and prayer on the readings throughout the season

As we prepare for Christmas, Advent is a time to take stock of what has happened in the past year. As a family, we post up pictures on our website with short captions to share with our extended family and friends what we’ve been up to. It’s a time to consider those who have died during the year, our achievements and perhaps ponder the “might have beens”. Continue reading “Advent: Hope amidst the gloom”

I’m dreaming of a livesimply Christmas…

Livesimply sign at Our Lady and St Edward's church, Lancaster diocese
Livesimply sign at Our Lady and St Edward’s church, Lancaster diocese

This year, CAFOD supporter Stephen Garsed is encouraging fellow parishioners at Our Lady and St Edward’s parish in Preston, to think about living simply and loving abundantly this Christmas. Here are his top six suggestions…

The word we hear so often in the weeks before Christmas is ‘tradition’. It is particularly promoted by the glossy magazines who like to sell us the concept of ‘the perfect Christmas’.

But do we want Christmas to be about things or about family? As the TV adverts encourage us to spend more, my mind turns to thinking of ways we can celebrate Christmas in a simple, more environmentally-friendly and loving way. Continue reading “I’m dreaming of a livesimply Christmas…”

10-year-old Florence’s World Gifts Christmas quest

Rachel Simkin is CAFOD’s World Gifts Co-ordinator. She was inspired to share the story of 10-year-old Florence, who set herself a fundraising quest to buy World Gifts knowing they would bring a smile to others.

Young CAFOD Volunteer Florence is on a quest to buy ethical presents this Christmas
Florence is on a quest to transform lives by fundraising for World Gifts

When I first heard about Florence’s quest to fundraise for World Gifts, I found it inspiring to hear of her energy and was delighted that she was encouraging so many to join her quest. Then I was even more amazed when I learnt she was just 10 years old!

Florence is one of CAFOD’s youngest local volunteers and has succesfuly inspired her Rotherham community to buy World Gifts to help communities across the world.

Young Florence first got the idea while listening attentively to her priest, Father Dee, at Mass. He had just been bought a goat from CAFOD’s World Gifts range as a thank you present.

“I thought it was an awesome idea,” said Florence. “I really wanted to help people who didn’t have what I have got. Last Christmas, I asked my friends at school to make a donation instead of sending Christmas cards to each other. I made a speech after Mass and told the parishioners I would be selling raffle tickets and the winner of the raffle would get to choose the animal’s name.

“Everyone at school and in my parish joined in and it was so successful we raised enough money to buy two goats, Kathleen and Rosie, and Maisey the piglet.”

Buy ethical gifts and help transform the lives of poor communities this Christmas

But Florence didn’t stop at Christmas; she decided to volunteer for CAFOD and organise more events throughout this year to encourage her fellow pupils to fundraise and learn about others across the world.

Continue reading “10-year-old Florence’s World Gifts Christmas quest”

What Advent means to me

CAFOD volunteer Trevor Stockton, from St Anthony of Padua parish in Wolverhampton, reflects on the significance of Advent in his life, past and present.

Trevor Stockton speaking at a Romero Mass in St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham
Trevor Stockton speaking at a Romero Mass in St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham

Advent was a word I didn’t know about until I started going to church in my teens. The period before Christmas and Christmas itself really took on a new meaning for me thereafter.

Before then, as a child in a working class family in the 1940s, Christmas was simply all about having a few treats that we didn’t get all year round. Having an ordinary stocking filled with nuts, dates, a tangerine and other similar luxuries was amazing.  A few, and I mean a few, simple presents followed by a family Christmas meal made the day. There was no television and the day continued with playing games. So, the weeks before Christmas were spent in anticipation of this special time.

Now, Advent means trying to put the religious significance into perspective against a backdrop of a society which seems to see Christmas as a purely commercial, money-making, money-spending time, whatever the cost to self, others and the environment.

Follow our Advent calendar for daily reflections on the Scriptures throughout the season

After I have had the annual tussle with myself about the negatives of this commercial approach, Advent’s true significance to me is as a time of preparation for the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus – who forms the basis of our Christian faith.

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World Gifts: why I’m asking for alternative presents this Christmas

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Bernadette in Nicaragua with CAFOD

Bernadette Goddard took part in the Step into the Gap programme last year. In this blog she describes why the work of partners in Nicaragua inspired her to ask for World Gifts as Christmas presents this year.

As Christmas approaches every year I am asked the question what would I like. It’s a double question for me as my birthday is just five days before Christmas, on 20 December. Each year I receive many gifts, often ones which, if I’m honest, I don’t need or use. In previous years I’ve asked for things which would be useful. Last year I was about to embark on a life changing trip with CAFOD to Nicaragua and people helped with my kit list, buying me useful items to take with me such as torches and plug adapters! This Christmas I have decided to appeal to family and friends on social media to buy World Gifts.

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World AIDS Day 2015

On World AIDS Day, Montserrat Fernández, Programme Officer for Central America, tells us how our partners in Guatemala are supporting women, men and children living with HIV.

The first time I met a person with HIV was in 1990, 25 years ago, in Canada. Since then, through my work with CAFOD in Central America, I have met dozens of girls, boys, women and men living with HIV, all of whom have enriched my understanding of how to live with dignity and with strength. On World AIDS Day, I want to share with you just one of the many stories from these individuals who have inspired me so much.

Gimena and David’s story

Gimena and her husband David are both living with HIV. When their baby boy was born, Gimena was breastfeeding him, unaware of the risks of transmitting the virus through her milk. They were not sure at that stage whether or not he was HIV positive because all newborns have antibodies from their mother, which means an HIV test shows positive, even if the baby is not infected himself.

Gimena and David, Verapaz Guatemala
Gimena and David

Gimena said: “The doctor told me: ‘Don’t breastfeed him any more.’ I started praying, asking God to save my baby.

“A year and a half later I said to God: ‘It’s going to be your will, not my desire.’ They tested my son, and after a time they told me: ‘Congratulations Mrs Gimena! Thank God! Although you breastfed him for four months, his HIV test result is negative.’ The doctors shouted and hugged each other, saying: ‘The child is well!’ I wept for pure joy.” Continue reading “World AIDS Day 2015”