Jason Sheehan, a CAFOD volunteer for the Nottingham Diocese, explains how his CAFOD gap year inspired him to continue volunteering, campaigning and fighting for social justice. His latest project involves encouraging people in his community to speak up about the climate after he attended an inspiring camp in Portugal.
After my experience on CAFOD’s gap year programme ‘Step Into The Gap’ I left my year enriched with memories from working with thousands of young people in my placement to witnessing and regularly discussing CAFOD’s work with partners in Zimbabwe.
That became my lifestyle for a year, to fully give myself to making some form of impact inspired by the values of CAFOD no matter how big or small. It was after leaving that structured program that I worried about whether this would be something that I would be able to continue, would there be other opportunities that motivated me to act?
That was when I became aware of the opportunity to become a Climate Champion. It’s very easy to sit on the sidelines of change, to put your faith in something or someone else to sort things out but if our world as a collective had that mindset then no progress would be made. For me this opportunity to be a Climate Champion encouraged me to act upon that, to take ownership and action on changing our climate.
Rachel Mannix is a CAFOD volunteer who has written and performed her spoken word poetry for CAFOD. Inspired by her faith, Rachel explains how she learned a new form of prayer.
Growing up there have been so many times that I’ve come home after an incredible experience of God and thought, “What next?”
During special events, like youth conferences, the atmosphere is electric and you feel so connected and strengthened in your faith but then when it is over you get a feeling of withdrawal from that community and spirituality – you can feel lost, deflated and on your own.
It can be really difficult to keep the momentum going when you are faced with your normality but I’m learning more and more that God doesn’t ask us to do that on our own. He wants to be a part of our day-to-day lives and I don’t want to just have a relationship with Him when I’m at an event, but all the time.
Charlie is a youth worker at the Youth Ministry Trust (YMT) in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. He works with young people to inspire and encourage them in their faith. This year he has volunteered as the ‘CAFOD ambassador’ at YMT, championing global justice work on the team.
My year as a volunteer
My year at YMT has been absolutely incredible, heightened by joining forces with CAFOD to promote social justice and CAFOD’s key projects and campaigns.
My year here at YMT as CAFOD ambassador has been one of great growth and progress, having the opportunity to grow in my skills, confidence, and joy for the Gospel! My work with CAFOD has also very much challenged me, in researching and learning about major social and political issues that impact the world around us, and us personally.
Eleanor Margetts is a young CAFOD volunteer, who spoke at CAFOD’s parliamentary reception for MPs and MP Correspondents. This extract is from her inspiring speech.
I have been involved with CAFOD for about four years. The organisation has been a huge part of my life and continues to shape me.
I must admit, when I first chose to volunteer with CAFOD, I applied for the Step into the Gap programme, hoping that it would give me a leg up in the education sector.
But, unexpectedly, I encountered what Pope Francis calls the ‘cry of the poor’. Through working alongside CAFOD, something switched on inside me: a sense of responsibility for the rights of my global family.
As Lent comes to an end, Step into the Gap volunteer, Charlotte Bray, who is currently volunteering at Newman Chaplaincy, reflects on her recent trip to Cambodia and how this has inspired her Lent challenge.
When I travelled to Cambodia, as part of the Step into the Gap programme, I went with the expectation that I would meet some incredible people. I never realised that the encounters I had would have such a transformative effect on my life.
While I was in Cambodia, I had the pleasure of meeting an incredibly strong and resilient woman called Suong, she taught me a profound lesson that has changed the way I view the world.
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.
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.
James Ronan, who is currently taking part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap, talks about the village communities he spent time with in Cambodia where local organisations are empowering communities to change their lives for the better.
Cambodia’s long history, most recently the civil war and the Khmer Rouge regime, has “left many communities broken”, said Singha, one of the founding members of CAFOD partners, Village Support Group (VSG).
Bridgid Duffy, Sophie Bray and Sophie Hull, who are all currently taking part in the Step into the Gap programme, share their experiences of meeting an inspirational business woman in her bustling Ethiopian café.
After a long journey, we arrived in Mekelle. Before we had even left the bus, we were greeted with open arms and open hearts and welcomed into the home of the Daughters of Charity.
After the inspirational time that we spent in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, we had travelled up to a beautiful city in Northern Ethiopia called Mekelle, located in the Tigray province. We were staying with CAFOD partners, the Daughters of Charity, and were planning to meet some of the people who the charity has been supporting for many years with their HIV and AIDS livelihood projects.
One of the Daughters of Charity’s main focuses is enabling the empowerment of women. During their time in Mekelle the Daughters of Charity have committed to challenging gender inequality in the region, an issue which is prominent.
Georgia is ayouth leader at The Briars Catholic youth retreat centre.This year she will work with hundreds of young people, enabling them to explore their faith. She has just started a year volunteering with CAFOD as a youth ambassador, championing global justice work in her centre. Here she reflects on her year ahead.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of CAFOD’s ambassador first training programme, in which myself and eight other youth ministers joined forces to work together on how we could further raise awareness on the current refugee crisis.