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.
Sally Kitchener looks at how donations to CAFOD’s first match funded appeal, during Lent 2012, brought drinking water to a remote town in Zimbabwe.
I am woken by a gentle tapping sound. It’s 5:30am. I extract myself from the tangle of my mosquito net and shuffle to unlock my door. Outside is a bucket of steaming water. It’s a welcome sight.
It’s my second day in Zimbabwe and I’m staying in Nembudzia, a remote town in Gokwe North district. My room is basic but it has everything I need – a bed, a desk, and even an en-suite bathroom. Only, the sink and shower feel a little redundant, as there’s not a drop of water in the taps.
Takura Gwatinyanya works for CAFOD partner Caritas Harare in Zimbabwe. He recently met CAFOD supporters in England and Wales to talk about how Caritas Harare is using renewable energy to help to tackle the effects of climate change in the southern African country.
Pope Francis warns in Laudato Si’ that our interference with nature is particularly affecting areas in which the poorest people live.
This is all too evident for the communities that Takura and Caritas Harare serve in Zimbabwe. As we have caused the climate to warm, drought has dried up people’s water supplies, destroyed their crops and livelihoods, and increased the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea.
Takura recently visited parishes around England and Wales to talk about how the support of Catholics in this country is enabling people in Zimbabwe to overcome the challenges thrown at them by our exploitation of nature.
In July, Takura Gwatinyanya, from CAFOD partner Caritas Harare, will be travelling across England and Wales to share his passion for tackling poverty and to show how your support is making a difference in Zimbabwe.
Meet Takura and discover more about CAFOD’s climate and energy campaign at a series of special events, starting in London on Wednesday 6 July.
We caught up with Takura to ask his about his family, his work and what keeps him motivated.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to Rutendo Avriel, and we have one five-year-old son.
You’re an expert in water and sanitation. What makes you passionate about this area?
My experience in sanitation and humanitarian work has shown me that access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. It bring human dignity, with immediate and evidenced results. The need for decent water and sanitation cuts across all ages and all backgrounds, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor.
Pumps run on solar power are helping people in the communities where I work to access clean water and are reducing the time it takes people to collect water.
Susan works in our education team. She recently visited Zimbabwe with young Step into the Gap volunteers from England and Wales. They met members of staff from Mavambo, one of CAFOD’s partners in Zimbabwe, who work extensively with local volunteers.
The singing reverberated through the hall, starting quietly, only one man, but swelling as the sixty or so people in the hall joined in. As I picked up the words, my voice joined too: “Here I am, I’m missing my partner. Here we are, your best friends! Here we are, here we are, here we are, your best friends. Here we are, here we are, here we are, face to face!”
Catherine Gorman from our Theology Programme reflects on the Doors of Mercy, where they can be seen in our world and how we can open them to others.
A couple of weeks’ ago I walked through the Door of Mercy at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark with CAFOD colleagues from all around the country. We were praying for refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes in search of a better life. And as we heard the stories of our brothers and sisters from around the world, intertwined with Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and prayers, we were moved – imagining ourselves in their shoes, and recognising the need for God’s mercy in our world.
As Pope Francis has said: “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” (Misericordiae Vultus #14)
As we passed through the door, I had a real sense that I and my colleagues were truly (re)committing ourselves to share God’s mercy with others, a sense that has stayed with me since.
Our series of Friday blogs focus on examples of living out works of mercy during Lent. In this blog, Susan Kambalu, who accompanied four Step into the Gap volunteers to visit CAFOD partners in Zimbabwe last month, talks about hope for the future in the HIV and AIDS projects she visited.
One of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11: ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you hope and a future.”’ When I’ve faced challenges in my own life, this verse has given me hope and encouraged me to keep going. But there has been one area of life where it has been hard to find hope at times. Members of my extended family have lived with the impact of HIV and AIDS, and the story I have seen over the past 15 years or so has not been a positive one. So it was with some trepidation that I prepared to visit Zimbabwe, to see first-hand the work of CAFOD partners Mavambo, Mashambanzou and St Albert’s Mission Hospital in supporting people living with HIV.
These three partners, situated in very different contexts, work together on the programme, Putting Children First. This is a complex programme, covering areas such as child protection, birth certificates, income generating projects, school fees, and health care. The staff members I met were all passionate about their work, and were full of compassion and tenderness.
Jason Sheehan talks about how he has been inspired by the people volunteering with CAFOD partners who he 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.
Leila Bousbaa was part of the the Step into the Gap programme in 2014/15 and travelled to Zimbabwe to meet CAFOD partners as part of the programme. This Lent Leila is remembering the water projects she visited.
I’ve been thinking a lot about water these past few days since hearing about CAFOD’s Lent water campaign. This time last year I witnessed first-hand the struggles that come with lack of water.
As part of the Step into the Gap programme I visited CAFOD partner projects in Zimbabwe. One visit that impacted me greatly was a water project in Lubu. Here I met a community at the top of a rocky crevasse and together we ventured down the slippery slopes. Going down was hard enough, little did I know about what hiking back up would entail. Before the water project was implemented, the women in the community would have to make this journey carrying 20 litres of water on their head, often with another five litres of water in each hand, and sometimes barefoot with a baby on their back. And all of this had to be done three times a day!