Great Generation: Carrying the flame of hope with refugees

Eleanor Margetts was part of the CAFOD team of young volunteers at Flame. Here she describes how young people learnt about the plight of refugees and were inspired to take action. 

Eleanor volunteering at Flame
Eleanor volunteering at Flame.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being a part of CAFOD’s volunteer team at Flame, the Catholic youth gathering by CYMFed at Wembley Arena. I had never been to Flame before, so it was very exciting to attend such an inspiring event. I was amazed, not only at the enthusiasm of all the young people in attendance, but at the wonderful messages of hope and solidarity shared by all of the speakers. The striking presence of the boat, a small vessel used to transport refugees from Turkey to the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013, on the stage of Wembley Arena set the tone for the event as one both of a celebration of Christian faith and one that really aimed to challenge people to put that faith into action by striving for justice.

Take the Flame challenge today – write a message of hope to refugees

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Reflections on Flame 2017

CAFOD volunteer, Leah Fox, 19, from Newcastle spoke to thousands of young people at Flame 2017 about her experiences of meeting refugees in Lebanon and sharing messages of hope from the UK. Here, she reflects on her experience and encourages others to act.  

Leah speaking at Flame 2017
Leah speaking at Flame 2017

Tell us why you were on stage with CAFOD at the Wembley SSE Arena on Saturday 11 March.

Last year I was part of Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, whilst I was there I became a CAFOD Ambassador with representatives from other retreat centres around the country. All around the media, we could see that there were a lot of negative things being said about refugees, and they weren’t being treated in a dignified way. We decided that the Refugee Crisis needed to be addressed so we started talking to the young people we worked with about refugees and gathering messages of hope from them.

Join the 10,000 reasons to hope challenge – write a message today

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Preparing for Flame 2017

Leah and Ryan in Lebanon last year.
Leah and Ryan in Lebanon last year.

We caught up with CAFOD volunteer Ryan who is getting ready to speak to over 8,000 people at the Catholic youth event, Flame 2017, at the SSE Arena, Wembley on March 11. Read on to find out more.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with CAFOD.

Currently, I am a volunteer at Savio House, the Salesian residential retreat centre. I really enjoy working with young people and helping them to build relationships with each other as well as with God. When I was in Y12 I joined the Cafod Young Leaders program in my school and as a part of this, I went to the Houses of Parliament to speak to my MP about climate change. From this, I continued to volunteer for a second year on the program with different people.

Buy your ticket to Flame today

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Step into the Gap: Small steps to make a big difference

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.

Chhoy and Kov stand proudly in their new vegetable garden.
Chhoy and Kov stand proudly in their new vegetable garden.

 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.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

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.

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Step into the Gap: A diagnosis does not define you

 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.

Step into the Gap volunteers with Sr Evlyn, who works at the Daughters of Charity HIV project.
Step into the Gap volunteers with Sr Evlyn, who works at the Daughters of Charity HIV project.

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.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

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.

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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.

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Great Generation: Speaking at mass

Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.

‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia

antonia-2-1
Antonia (right) speaking at mass for CAFOD

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.

In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.

Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!

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Great Generation: walking for refugees

Molly is a year 10 student from London who spent part of the summer on work experience with CAFOD in the education team. In this blog she writes about her experience taking a pilgrimage in solidarity with refugees.

“I met so many people with such amazing and inspiring stories of their life, and how they had come to this country wanting safety and peace.” Molly

Lampedusa crosses made by Francisco Tuccio
Supporters across the UK have been carrying Lampedusa crosses on pilgrimages of solidarity with refugees

In May my dad, brother and I walked the 74 mile pilgrimage from London to Canterbury  with 100 other people. The pilgrimage is an annual event which is run by ‘The Connection’ at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London, and this year was its 26th pilgrimage.

We started from St Martin-in-the-fields church on the Friday morning and finished at Canterbury Cathedral on the Monday afternoon. The pilgrimage was to help fundraise and raise money for homeless people and refugees around London and in our country, and the pilgrimage was also a chance to have fun and meet new people.

Sign up to march for refugees this Saturday

When I was on the walk I talked to so many new people, including some refugees who  did not have any were to stay, but they go to ‘The Connection’ at St Martins where volunteers give them a place to shower, eat, wash their clothes etc.

Download our pilgrimage for young people

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Welcoming CAFOD into our school

Lucy Collins is Head of RE at Carmel College. In this blog she reflects on welcoming CAFOD volunteers to run workshops at school, and the impact of CAFOD’s training with teachers.

‘We love these sessions as we get to think about how our faith has such an impact on the lives of others and the world we live in. It makes it real and makes us realise we can actually make a difference, even if it is just a small one for now.’
– Student at Carmel College.

carmel-college
Students taking part in CAFOD workshops

This year we welcomed back CAFOD for what have now become our annual workshops with Years 9 and 10, and we we were delighted that CAFOD would so readily support us by returning to our college.

CAFOD worked with us to create exciting activities which complimented our new GCSE specification preparations alongside current curriculum requirements. It was amazing how they were able to provide materials which allowed our students to access Church documents and encyclicals so easily and joyfully!

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Experiences of being a young leader

As a new term begins, CAFOD’s Elouise Hobbs spoke to young leader Jouriz, from Chertsey, about her experiences and advice for those thinking of taking part this September. 

Jouriz at other young leaders at the CAFOD away day in Romero House
Jouriz at other young leaders at the CAFOD away day in Romero House

Over the last academic year CAFOD has worked with 245 young people from across seven dioceses as part of CAFOD’s young leadership programme. These young people spent the year learning about justice issues and developing leadership skills. Collectively they have reached around 65,000 people through their campaigning, speaking at Mass, fundraising, assemblies, blogs and tweets.

In the last academic year, Jouriz took part in the CAFOD young leadership programme; when I met her, she was presenting to lower forms from her school about the impact of CAFOD.

Learn how you can get involved in the young leadership programme

You recently attended the end of year Young Leadership celebration day with CAFOD. Do you have a moment that particularly sticks out for you?

“My favourite moment was actually at the beginning of the day. We had just arrived and as an ice-breaker we had to go round the tables and meet everyone. When we went around the tables with just a 30-second gap. It was so fast. I only had a short time to make a conversation and crack a joke. Even though it was only a short amount of time, it actually allowed me to get to know people really well. It was so much fun travelling up to London and getting to meet all the different people.”

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