Human rights: Dignified burials in Peru

Bea Findley travelled to Peru with CAFOD as part of the Step into the Gap programme, and in this blog explains how our partners are working on human right issues.

Bea with Clotilde, who is supported by CEAS
Bea with Clotilde, who is supported by CEAS

I’m writing this blog today because the political conflict in Peru feels like more than just history to me now; I have a real understanding of what the people went through and the difficulties of the recovery.

CEAS are the social action group of the Peruvian Bishop’s Conference. I met two women, Bernadina and Clotilde who receive support from CEAS in response to their suffering during the internal political violence which ended in 2000.

During that terrible time, approximately 70,000 people were killed or disappeared. 75% of these were from rural areas and 73% were speakers of the indigenous language, Quechua. A terrorist organisation called Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) began the violence and the army responded with more violence.

There were horrific mistreatments of people and breaches of human rights: people were tortured, killed, displaced and disappeared. Both the Shining Path, the army and other armed groups were responsible. Nobody could be trusted.

Continue reading “Human rights: Dignified burials in Peru”

Great generation: My year as a CAFOD young leader

Flavia at the CAFOD young leaders celebration day.
Flavia at the CAFOD young leaders celebration day.

Flavia has been volunteering for CAFOD this year as part of the Young Leadership Programme. She’s had a busy year of fundraising, campaigning and raising awareness in her school of CAFOD’s work and social justice issues that are important to her.

Earlier this year Flavia was nominated for the Dorothy Day award, a Million Minutes award for fostering community participation. Here is an extract from her sixth form leavers’ speech, where she reflected on the journey she’s had in college and with CAFOD over the past twelve months.

My journey began last year when I went on a climate change rally to lobby MPs. At first I wasn’t very interested in the topic, however after going on the rally and understanding the impact that our voice has in the world we live in, it really surprised me that I can make a change. It may not be a massive change, but I learnt very quickly throughout this year that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

Download our Olympic resources to explore global justice issues with your youth group, class or group of friends.

Continue reading “Great generation: My year as a CAFOD young leader”

Volunteering: my journey to Parliament


Molly McCaffrey recently spoke at a CAFOD reception at Parliament 

When CAFOD invited me to speak at their parliamentary reception, I panicked. I’m a

UK - Parliament - Molly McCaffrey
Volunteer Molly McCaffrey in Parliament

student at Durham University, in the midst of end-of-term essay-writing. How was I going to plan a speech that was worth listening to, in between revising?

I decided to use my speech to reflect on the journey and experiences that CAFOD have facilitated for me; the people who have inspired me; and the conversations that have taught me to think and question.

See how you can start your volunteering journey

Continue reading “Volunteering: my journey to Parliament”

Volunteering: Stepping into the Gap in Peru

Alice is one of this year’s Step into the Gap volunteers. She describes her experience volunteering in the UK and seeing the work of CAFOD’s partners in Peru.

Although it is Volunteers’ Week, and I might be a bit biased, I really would recommend

Alice will be based in Birmingham
Alice took part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme

volunteering to anyone. This year I have been volunteering with CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme, based at Newman University, Birmingham.  I have learnt so much throughout the year, both about myself and the world of work. It has also been so rewarding working towards such a good cause.

CAFOD is running a webinar for Volunteers’ Week this year, and me and another Step into the Gapper, Danielle,  are taking part. Everyone is welcome to come and listen / see the slides which will show lots of photos from our overseas experience visiting CAFOD partners as well as photos from our placements in the UK.

Sign up for our Step into the Gap webinar and hear more from Alice.

Continue reading “Volunteering: Stepping into the Gap in Peru”

Young People in Southwark use CAFOD pilgrimage and write messages of hope for refugees

Bethan with a Lampedusa cross and action card at St. Vincent’s, Whitstable
Bethan with a Lampedusa cross and action card at St. Vincent’s, Whitstable

CAFOD ambassador Bethan is based with Southwark Catholic Youth Service.

I was at St. George’s Cathedral recently, working with young people making their Confirmation and I heard a talk from Laura at CAFOD, about her personal experience of the refugee crisis. She spoke about her visit to Lesbos and we were introduced to a new prayer resource inspired by a carpenter who has created crosses from a boat that capsized carrying hundreds of refugees, near a place called Lampedusa. These crosses were given to the survivors from the boat as a symbol and sign of hope.

Learn about CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross

We’ve recently led sessions with young people getting them to use their imagination to put themselves in the perspective of a refugee and we’ve been using a Lampedusa cross and the new CAFOD refugee pilgrimage to help young people pray for those in so much need of hope. Our groups have responded so well to writing messages of hope and welcome to refugees. Continue reading “Young People in Southwark use CAFOD pilgrimage and write messages of hope for refugees”

Step into the Gap – Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Jason Sheehan talks about how he has been inspired by the people volunteering with CAFOD partners who he met in Zimbabwe:

Jason has been inspired by the volunteers he has met in Zimbabwe
Jason has been inspired by the volunteers he has met in Zimbabwe

I sometimes get asked why it is that I’m volunteering a year of my life and at first I struggled to answer that question. But with the privilege I have had to meet volunteers across the world here in Zimbabwe it has shown me that to volunteer is a true act of love. The one thing that has been a constant throughout all the partners we have met with is that the incredible work going on each day couldn’t be done without people in the communities volunteering their time, knowledge and abilities.

Volunteer with CAFOD

We met with ‘Mavambo’ whose name carries a strong message. Mavambo translates to ‘The Beginning’, as their aim is to give disadvantaged and vulnerable children a beginning in life.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Volunteering in Zimbabwe”

Step into the Gap Peru – Working together 

Alice Bowers reflects on the final few days spent in Peru by the Step into the Gap volunteers:

The volunteers with Manuel, Dora and Roberto from EDUCA
The volunteers with Manuel, Dora and Roberto from EDUCA

Our final days here in Peru have been spent with CAFOD partners EDUCA and IES who work on helping young people start businesses and to understand and counteract violence, amongst other things. It has been so nice to see first-hand the work of our partners. These two are no exception with the hope they offer for the future of Peru and the successes of the projects they run. They are constantly changing and adapting to the needs that arise for the people they work with. They are so grateful to CAFOD and its supporters.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal

Salir adelante” is a phrase that has been used predominantly in these three weeks. It means “to move forward”. This has been something striking about people here in Peru, and the work that CAFOD’s partners are doing through the backing of supporters. People gain real satisfaction from working towards that goal. It has been seen in young people standing up for their rights and against violence, right through to the older generations working in collaboration, partly for company but also to take action together.   Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Working together “

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The effects of climate change on water

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.

Danielle has seen the impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe
Danielle has seen the impacts of climate change in Zimbabwe

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.

Call for action to tackle climate change

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”

Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – living as a child with a disability

Katy Lowrey, one of our gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe, has written about how CAFOD is helping children living with disabilities:

The 11-18 group at the rehabilitation centre
The 11-18 group at the rehabilitation centre

Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Everyone we have met over the past two weeks have been amazing, friendly and kind to those around them. We met these people at the previous partners we visited, Mavambo and Mashambanzou, and now also at St Albert’s, where we have been staying during the week.

The Chitemamuswe Rehabilitation Centre for children

On the second day of our stay with St Albert’s we visited the Chitemamuswe Rehabilitation Centre. This centre is for children, from babies to 19-year-olds, and is a place for those with disabilities to come and feel accepted and part of a community as some of their own communities may have rejected them due to their disability. The centre was set up by Mathew Chitemamuswe in 2013 to help people living with disabilities and with HIV and AIDS.

Katy has seen how CAFOD supports children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe
Katy has seen how CAFOD supports children living with disabilities in Zimbabwe

The centre’s work is split into three age groups. Mrs Savah runs the youngest age group, with the main aim to prepare the young children for when they start school, as they need to know how to cope with their disability without the technology or accessories that are available elsewhere. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – living as a child with a disability”

Step into the Gap Peru – Fiona sees the Year of Mercy in action

Fiona has written from her Step into the Gap visit to Peru about how she is seeing the corporal acts of mercy in action in CAFOD’s work:

Fiona at Lake Parón
Fiona at Lake Parón

During this Year of Mercy, we are called to act upon the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. And so, while in Peru, I’ve been reflecting on the corporal acts in particular. It seems that they don’t need to be taken literally, as I’d first thought. I thought I’d take this time to focus on CAFOD partner CEAS who we’ve had the privilege of spending time with during this trip. They are the organisation for social action set up by the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.

Learn more about the Year of Mercy

‘Welcome the stranger’

Of all the corporal acts of mercy, I find that ‘welcoming the stranger’ is a particularly challenging one. It’s God’s call for us to put the faith and trust we have in Him into a complete stranger’s hands. It can be difficult to open our hearts—let alone our homes—to people that we know nothing about. Still, families have been doing just that—and more!—for us gap year volunteers here in Peru. The relationship built between CAFOD partners such as CEAS and the local community has enabled this faith and trust to exist.

‘To clothe the naked’ Continue reading “Step into the Gap Peru – Fiona sees the Year of Mercy in action”