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.
Sarah Burrows from CAFOD’s Youth team describes how young people have been writing messages of love and hope for refugees .
CAFOD ambassadors from retreat and outreach teams have spent the past few months reflecting on the refugee crisis, responding by raising awareness and gathering messages of hope and love for refugees from the young people they work with. At the beginning of March the group came down to London to bring their messages to Parliament, and speak to their MPs about the refugee crisis. The day before, we had the chance to gather together, halfway through Lent, to reflect on the fact that refugees are such a huge part of the Year of Mercy, they are “brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.” (Pope Francis, 2014)
Hannah Remm is a youth worker at The Briars, the residential youth centre for the Diocese of Nottingham. Over the past year Hannah has been involved with CAFOD’s ambassador scheme, and recently she gathered with other youth leaders to spend time reflecting on the current refugee crisis and CAFOD’s response in Syria and Europe.
As a part of our CAFOD Ambassadors scheme, we a day at the CAFOD office at Romero House discussing the topic of refugees. We looked at the language we associate with refugees, the stories that we had heard in the news and on social media along with other information about the European refugee crisis. Some of the things discussed did shock me a little, especially when we looked at how often the media portrays refugees in in a dehumanising way, such as the refugees in Calais living in ‘The Jungle’ camp, or politicians referring to them arriving in ‘swarms’. As a group we realised that the language we use is so important. Refugees are still people – people with families, emotions, hope and dreams just like us. Continue reading “Youth leaders: Hannah reflects on the European refugee crisis”
On 6 February, the CAFOD youth team will be attending the CYMfed Youth Leaders’ Congress in London. This is a day of nourishment, networking and renewal for those who are involved in working with young people in the Church. Julia Corcoran, a former CAFOD gap year volunteer and currently an intern with Columbans’ Justice and Peace team, reflects on the value of the congress.
My name is Julia Corcoran and two years ago I took part in the CAFOD Step into the Gap programme. I loved my time on the programme and was fortunate to see the work of CAFOD in Sierra Leone. After the programme I went on to complete my masters in ‘Rights, Gender and International Law.’ I am now doing a 12 month internship with the Columbans’ Justice and Peace team and CYMFed’s Administration. My time on Step into the Gap definitely prepared me for what I am doing now. I often go into schools and talk to young people about a variety of Justice and Peace issues.
Leah Fox is a volunteer at Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Here she reflects on her first experience of campaigning with CAFOD. In March Leah will be continuing her journey with CAFOD’s campaigning in a visit to Parliament with other youth leaders from across the country.
At the end of November I was asked to go and join CAFOD at the People’s Climate March in London. This was a peaceful demonstration to voice the opinion to world leaders that they need to act against climate change, just before they met in Paris to make some very important decisions. Climate change affects so many people across the world, but especially those living in poverty, so I was very excited to be joining others to help encourage world leaders to recognise and act on this issue.
When I was asked to go, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had never been on any sort of march so I naively thought that there might be a few hundred people marching through London, interrupting people’s busy lives. So I was very surprised to join over 50,000 people walking from Hyde Park to Whitehall!
When we first arrived at the meeting point for the entire march we made our way to the section which had people from different faith groups marching together, towards the front. CAFOD was one of many faith-based charities that were marching. There were more people there already than I could ever have imagined. Soon we all had a CAFOD placard and a few others and myself drew green hearts on our faces to represent CAFOD. The energy from the march was amazing, with cheering, music and people talking over speakers. Politicians from every major political party spoke before the march to show what their party would do to prevent climate change.
Throughout the march we saw people from different charities marching on behalf of different reasons (some were even dressed as polar bears or bumble bees!) but despite the many reasons for people being there, it felt amazing to be united with so many people, marching for one outcome – to stop climate change. I got to talk to many people from CAFOD and other charities over the course of the march and talk about my faith and the amazing things we can do to help raise awareness of climate change and how it’s affecting communities across the world.
At the end of the day, we were all very tired from walking, but left the walk feeling very happy and fulfilled knowing that we had helped raise awareness to people that climate change is a problem and needs to be stopped.
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.
Applications for the CAFOD Gap Year, Step into the Gap, are now open. Julia Corcoran took part in the programme in 2013 /14, and in this blog describes her experience.
Two years ago I wrote a reflection on why I was really excited to be travelling to Sierra Leone. In those two years my life has taken a completely different turn and that’s mainly down to my experiences on Step into the Gap.Find out more about Step into the Gap
During my time on the programme my placement was at YMT, (the Youth service for Hexham and Newcastle) running retreats in the Emmaus Youth Village where groups of young people come to take time out, reflect on their lives, realise the impact they have on the world and hopefully the impact God has in their lives. During my time there I had a variety of opportunities to work with young people from leading Morning Prayer, helping to run youth festivals and running workshops, as well as going into schools for assemblies and speaking during Mass in the local parishes and at the Cathedral.
Kathleen O’Brien is our secondary resources coordinator, leading on the material for young people this Harvest Fast Day.
Watch our Brighten Up Harvest film, and then read Kathleen’s blog about the making of it:
Bright peace building projects in El Salvador
If you visit the education webpages this Harvest you will be greeted by Isabel and Diego, two young people who explain what life is like in a gang-dominated area of El Salvador, and talk about how CAFOD partners are helping their community to create safe, bright spaces where children and young people can play, learn and meet with their friends.
We really wanted to convey the brightness of this project in El Salvador, the brightness of the community, and the brightness of a hopeful future. So this Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world. To do this, we set about making a short, bright, fun clip to introduce the fundraising theme.
Emer, one of our fantastic young climate bloggers from St Erconwald’s parish, has discovered an interesting effect climate change could have on our health.
Most people know the general facts about climate change (that the ice caps are melting due to the warming temperatures) but it turns out that climate change is also acting in ways that aren’t quite so noticeable. This research I found out really surprised me about how climate change is affecting our everyday lives in ways in which we wouldn’t expect.
Hay fever is something that so many people suffer from, and although it is not always serious, it often leads to the unwanted red nose and watery eye look. And studies are now suggesting that climate change could be the cause in an increase in sufferers. This is because with the high carbon dioxide levels and hotter temperatures plants are growing faster, blooming sooner in spring and producing more and more pollen. Which in turn leads to worse hay fever symptoms and a longer hayfever season!
Although hay fever is an uncomfortable experience for lots of us in the UK, it is nothing compared to the huge impact on the health of those already living in poverty. The rise in sea levels leading to flooding, triggered by climate change, is leading to water that is used for washing and drinking becoming contaminated leading to more cases of fatal diseases’ such as typhoid fever.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the raise in temperatures will lead to more cases of malaria. This is a tropical disease which is spread by mosquitos, and because other countries climates are becoming more suitable to the conditions the disease thrives in, more people globally will be at risk of contracting malaria.
Katharine O’Brien is a parish youth worker at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Wanstead. This Harvest we are asking children and young people to Brighten Up to help build a brighter world, and in this blog Katharine explains how she will introduce the theme and explore the material with the children and young people she works with.
Harvest Fast Day is approaching. On Friday 2 October, schools and communities around the country will be raising money to support communities affected by violence, like Isabel’s. I watched Isabel’s film and saw the reality of life in San Salvador, El Salvador. The video offers insight into her community, into the heart of the youth project seeking to brighten up the prospects of young people, to tackle the reality of gang culture and the danger they face simply by stepping out of doors. Isabel tells us how sad it is to see the children she grew up with turning to guns and violence.