“Much has been spoken and written about the country of my birth,” says Sylvester Mutsigwa. A year on from Cyclone Idai, CAFOD’s Community Participation Coordinator for Birmingham visited Zimbabwe and found that its recovery is being built on the hope, resilience and love of its people.
Local community volunteers play a vital role reaching out to those in need, playing a constructive role in their communities. Janet Crossly, from the Humanitarian Development team tells us about the passion of these volunteers for helping others in their communities.
When Cyclone Idai swept across southern Africa in March this year, it left a trail of destruction in its wake. Armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria has caused thousands of families to flee their homes. And the Ebola crisis in West Africa devastated communities affected by the disease. What do these three very different emergencies, have in common?
Rachel works for CAFOD. Here she reflects on how meeting Katy, a CAFOD Gapper, helped her to discover the power of a simple birth certificate, and inspired her to create a new, very special virtual gift for CAFOD’s World Gifts collection that will help babies and children around the world.
The importance of a birth certificate
A birth certificate. Every person needs one, it shows our citizenship, lets us get a passport – it tells the world who we are. And I think that here in the UK, we take this simple legal document for granted.
But for people living in poverty, perhaps in rural areas, where babies are born at home, it is often forgotten. And a child without a birth certificate faces problems.
In Zimbabwe, children without a birth certificate cannot go to school, take exams, apply for an ID card, vote, travel, nor access many other basic essential services.
I’ve worked in fundraising for years and am always eager to hear about how donations help. Katy, who recently travelled to Zimbabwe on a gap year trip with CAFOD, told me about the terrible and long-lasting impact of growing up without a birth certificate.
Katy said, “Children around the world continue to grow up without the basic human right of an identity.”
Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Lent Appeal. Your gifts will change lives around the world. And if you donated between 13 February and 12 May, the UK Government will double your donation, giving twice the number of children the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong. Match funding for the appeal has now ended but you can still donate
Runa Begum is a volunteer in CAFOD’s digital team. She tells us why she was so impressed by the opportunity to have your donation doubled this lent, and by CAFOD supporters who continue to donate generously.
For the last few years I have been thinking more about donating with maximum impact – giving so my money goes further to needy causes. I often research the projects charities fund to see how far my pound can go. I think a lot of other people are feeling similar – we want our charitable donations to go as far as possible and to do as much good as possible.
Money raised for CAFOD’s Family Fast Day appeal this Lent will definitely do as much good as possible. Donations will be match funded by the UK Government which means your donation will be doubled, at no extra cost to you. More importantly, it means your gift will have double the impact in communities in Zimbabwe, Eritrea and around the world.
When Laura Storr from CAFOD’s communications team heard how new mum Unity from Zimbabwe was struggling to breastfeed – she knew only too well how difficult it could be. As we look forward to Mother’s Day, she shares her own breastfeeding story and explains how you can help more mums get the specialist support they need by donating this Lent.
It’s 10pm and I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter Rosa on and off for the last five hours. Rosa was born two weeks ago, and every time she tries to feed, which is about 10-12 times a day, my body tenses with pain. At times, its so painful, I cry out. And she rarely seems satisfied. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. And I’m worried that she isn’t putting on weight.
Later that night, I remember that I was given a bunch of leaflets, including information about a breastfeeding support group a short walk from my home in north London. Later that evening, I dig them out, and make an appointment for the next available session.
This Lent you may have heard about Tawanda from Zimbabwe and how hungry he was as a child. You may have heard how CAFOD helped Marian to plant a vegetable garden and how Tawanda’s little brother Svondo grew up with plenty of good food. But what happened to Tawanda?
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Tawanda. I’m 21 years old and I live in Gokwe North District with my mum, dad, two brothers and little sister.
What was your childhood like?
When I was younger, I remember being so desperate, we’d eat anything. We ate roasted groundnuts with sadza. It’s not something I’d recommend. It’s like eating salt.
What are you doing now?
I have my own vegetable plot at the community vegetable garden. I farm the plot so I can sell vegetables to buy things like clothes and shoes. I enjoy working on the plot – it’s my only way of earning money.
Sally Kitchener, from CAFOD’s communications team, recently visited Zimbabwe. She tells us how hearing a mother’s story about hunger affected her. She also shares some good news about vegetable gardens and invites you to help tackle malnutrition by donating to the CAFOD Lent Appeal.
A few months ago, I met Marian Magumise in her home in rural Zimbabwe. After packing the children off to school just after dawn, Marian invited me to sit in her cooking hut. The embers from the fire were still warm and the smell of porridge hung in the air.
Marian told me that she hasn’t always been able to give her children a meal before school. In fact, there have been countless times – months on end – when she has had not an oat or a grain to feed them.
Gillie Drinkall is a CAFOD school volunteer who has been visiting schools in South London to talk about Zimbabwe, and to introduce the Lent Give it up challenge.
A primary school in South London. A very small boy approached me and apologised for not being at my previous assembly as he was in hospital. He then confided, with breathless excitement, “It’s my birthday in six days’ time!”. I wished him “Happy Birthday … in six days’ time” and turned to a slightly older boy who wanted to know how to give money to CAFOD as soon as possible. I was reminded how much I enjoy talking to small children.
I have scheduled visits to an unusually high number of schools this Lent to share stories from Zimbabwe and to talk about the Give it up challenge. As ever, until the first assembly unfolds, I am never quite sure how the children will respond. This time I was going to try and show all the schools the short film featuring Svondo and his mother Marian who live in Zimbabwe.