CAFOD supporters and volunteers from across the Diocese of Northampton gathered at St. Martin de Porres church in Luton, on Saturday 4 February for one of two CAFOD Supporters Day.
With Lent drawing ever nearer and a month of 2017 already behind us, it seemed an opportune time to meet in order to discuss CAFOD’s vital work in Northampton parishes, as well as across the globe. Over 26 people were in attendance at St. Martin de Porres and all were enthused to hear about and discuss CAFOD’s plans for Lent Fast Day. We also had a great welcome team! Thanks so much for your help ladies!
Deborah Purfield, Coordinator for CAFOD Northampton, welcomed supporters and the day started with the group settling down to a reflective opening prayer focusing on the Beatitudes. They were then introduced to Nyarai Mutongwizo, CAFOD’s Research and Capacity Builder for Southern Africa.
Nyarai, who is based in Harare, Zimbabwe, gave a talk about some of the essential work CAFOD supports in Southern Africa. Supporters heard about how CAFOD’s partners are working towards systemic and structural changes to help eradicate poverty. Nyarai gave the example of an education project in Zimbabwe called ‘Sanitation for Success’ that seeks to tackle poor hygiene and prevent the spread of disease. Watch the video here : influencing-change-wash-prog
Nyarai also spoke about the need for advocacy to affect change in Southern Africa. She talked about how partners in Swaziland, one of the world’s few absolute monarchies, are working to tackle ingrained gender discrimination. The group was shocked to hear that in Swaziland widows are unable to inherit their husband’s land. This leads to a recurring cycle of poverty as families are forced to return to their paternal clans. However, projects that seek to empower women in Swazi society are tackling this. A victory for advocacy in Swaziland came in 2009 with the assembly passing the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill. However, there is still much work to do, indeed, partners are still working to get the bill formally signed into law by the King
After a Q&A session with Nyarai, Deborah then provided the group with an update on CAFOD’s recent fundraising activity. CAFOD in the Diocese of Northampton had recently raised over £48,000 for Harvest Fast Day and a fantastic sum of £6,000 was raised by schools within the diocese. This was in addition to money raised by World Gifts programme and the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Yemen Appeal over the Christmas period. Despite these wonderful fundraising achievements all in attendance were keen to discuss how they could organise and redouble their efforts for Lent Fast Day.
With the Lent Fast Day focus on Zambia this year, Deborah spoke enthusiastically about Sister Yvonne and the Households in Distress programme in Mbala, Zambia. The programme has helped people like Florence to become self-sufficient by running their own artisanal businesses such as fish farming and bee keeping. These projects have transformed the lives of people in some the world’s poorest communities and it is the theme of transformation that resonates particularly strongly in the Lenten period. The short video about Florence’s fish farming was shown which was much appreciated by all. There is also a longer video about our work in Zambia which you can watch in your own time.
Following the Lent Fast Day story, there was time to reflect on the Gospel of the Transfiguration and link it to Florence’s transformed life and how each one experienced transformation. The group split up into smaller discussion groups where the theme of transformation was recurring, as was the notion of ‘faith into action.’ It was great to connect the fundraising activity that takes place within the diocese to the projects that had been mentioned earlier in the day. There was time for feedback and as long-standing CAFOD volunteer, Alban McDonald from St. Peter, Biggleswade said: “We become blessed through doing these activities.”
There was then a presentation from Communications Coordinator, Will Rees about how CAFOD activities can get coverage in the local and regional press.
The day concluded with a closing prayer and shared lunch. It seemed that there was a strong feeling of positivity about what 2017 would hold for CAFOD in the diocese and a number of great fundraising initiatives were floated during the day. Dinah (Our Lady – Kempston) summed it up saying, “was a really terrific day. A really worthwhile and inspirational event, thank you so much”.
There is another opportunity to join our next Supporters Day at St Joseph’s, Austenwood Common, Chalfont St Peter, SL9 8RY at 10am. For more information, please get in touch with Deborah Purfield firstname.lastname@example.org