Alistair Burt MP “Shares the Journey” with CAFOD volunteers

CAFOD, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) have worked together to stage the exhibition, which opened on 5 December at the Palace of Westminster.  The exhibition demonstrates the work of the Catholic community and the three agencies in supporting refugees, both at home and overseas.Alban MacdonaId, an MP correspondent who was present at the exhibition writes:

Alistair Burt (MP) and Alban Macdonald at the Share the Journey exhibition in Westminster Palace

“I was honoured that my MP Alistair Burt, ( also Minister of Sate for International Development) should take time out of his busy Ministerial scheduled to meet me in Parliament and visit the CAFOD Share the Journey display.

Alistair Burt MP looking at messages of hope and welcome

The displays articulate the Roman Catholic response to the Refugee Crisis at home and across the world and how we are offering messages of hope and support to displaced people. I felt Alistair is really grounded and switched on to the Refugee issues and seemed impressed with our response too.  I hope to follow up this meeting by writing to Alistair and asking him to take specific actions to help further this cause.

Alban hands over the Power to Be petition cards to Alistair Burt MP

I also took the opportunity to outline briefly CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign which seeks to influence the World Bank to increase the amount of funding investment for small rural power sustainable energy. These rural areas are where the poorest people of the world live and so the benefits of having safe and renewable electricity can have the greatest impact there.  This will give these people a “jump start” out of the poverty trap.

> Sign CAFOD’s petition to the World Bank

Alban shares with Alistair Burt MP

I explained that I had recently spoken in my parish of St Peter’s Church in Biggleswade, – where Alistair’s regional office is located – and the people from the parish overwhelmingly supported this campaign; most of whom are Alistair’s constituents.  I was delighted that Alistair offered to take one letter (from over 160 letters I had with me) from one his constituents Mrs Catherine Spencer, addressed to Melanie Robinson (UK’s Executive Director to the World Bank).  Alistair promised to give it to her personally and ask her to respond to him as to why the World Bank should not adopt CAFOD’s proposals in this campaign.”

Thank you Alban and we look forward to hearing feedback back from you and await with baited breath to hear Alistair’ response from the World Bank.

The Lampedusa cross at St Mary’s – Dunstable

Schools across the diocese continue to reflect upon the plight of refugees around the world.  The Lampedusa Cross (which CAFOD obtained and gave every Cathedral in England and Wales to display) is a wonderful symbol of solidarity and hope with refugees. The crosses are the work of a local carpenter, who moved by the many stories of death and loss made them out of the wreckage of the boats and gave them to the refugees as a symbol of hope.

Find out more about the Refugee Crisis and how CAFOD is responding >>

The Northampton Diocese Lampedusa Cross

 

In our diocese, the cross is journeying through schools and parishes. The latest school to welcome the cross was St Mary’s – Dunstable.

Last week,  the children from the Liturgy and First Holy Communion groups presented the cross at the beginning of Mass.  They then reflected upon the symbolism of the cross as the gateway to freedom and the openness of the Lampedeusa people towards refugees. The children also wrote their messages of hope, which are displayed on a poster.

 

Isabella read the story of the cross to the congregation. It was very moving.

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Isabelle explains the story of the Lampedusa Cross

The children  also sang this song, especially composed for the occasion:

Lampedousa (clap clap clap) x2
Makes crosses out of wood
Crosses from the shipwreck
To try and bring some good (clap clap clap)
For all those who perished
Beneath the fearsome waves
Crosses in their memory
And crosses for the saved
Lampedusa (clap clap clap) x2
What an amazing place
Showing us how we can
Grow stronger in our faith (clap clap clap)
(Shout) FAITH and raise arms high

After Mass, Isabella took the cross to Cardinal Newman School – Luton where she will be holding a series of assemblies.

If you would like to host the Lampedusa Cross in your parish for a time and hold a pilgrimage event, then please email Deborah Purfield at the CAFOD office at northampton@cafod.org.uk

A very special pilgrimage – IX

The last day in El Salvador before the trip back to the UK the following day.  What a wonderful way to spend the day at a CAFOD project.  Debbie went with 11 other pilgrims to the community at Puentecitos, a small village near the border of Guatemala, who are improving community life by opening small businesses and using organic farming methods. This is the community th

at is featured in Connect 2 El Salvador scheme.

Debbie with Erasmus

They were met by Erasmus, one of the project leaders.  Sadly his father-in-law had just died in an accident and Debbie says, “despite that, he wanted to remain with us till his replacement came.  He said that our presence and support was a great help to him! I was so moved.”

 

We met Julia and her lovely family.  They were the featured family in CAFOD’s geography pack for primary school and it was wonderful to see how they had grown with a new addition to the family!

New addition to the family

Some of Julia and Fedel’s family

The group were told about all the projects that the community were involved in with CAFOD’s support working through the local partner Solidarity CVX.

>>  See here for more information about the Connect 2 project

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Tortilla made my Julia’s eldest daughter

The group were given a tour of Julia’s home and saw the chickens, pigs, sacks of corn from the previous harvest, hand-made baskets and shampoo.  Such a joy to see the community so empowered!  They were then made even more welcome with a wonderful lunch cooked by Julia’s eldest daughter on a stove using wood.  Debbie noted

“I was breathing in the smoke from the wood  even from where I was sitting and it struck me how the family have to breath in these unhealthy fumes everyday!  It made me realise  how important our Power to Be campaign was to get the World bank to invest in renewable and safe energy”

>>  Sign the petiton to the World Bank

Before the lovely lunch the community sang to their visitors

Then came the lunch which was so lovingly prepared for us.

“I was surrounded by the community and could hardly speak more than 5 Spanish words but we got on great.  Our driver was invited for lunch too and he had a Google translator on his mobile phone.  With that, we had a fun and interesting conversation.  Just goes  to show how technology can help!”

 

Partaking in the lunch provided by the Puentecitos community

 

After lunch, the community were so keen for us to see how their efforts literally bore fruit.

Showing the produce of the land

“We were taken to the neighbour’s land to show us their numerous fruit trees.

It was fantastic to see first hand what I have been sharing with volunteers and supporters in the UK.

I can see how empowered  and dignified people are.  They don’t want hand outs.  They are determine to improve their lives by putting in effort and time to get there.  It has certainly paid off!”

 

Little ones enjoying the air condition van

 

The little ones were thrilled to sit in the air conditioned van and watch a cartoon!

 

 

 

 

Community at prayer

The community pray together every Thursday and they always pray for CAFOD.  How wonderful we are thought about and prayed for too.

It was a shame that Edelmira (who was the featured person for Harvest 2017) couldn’t be with us as the local transport left before she could get to the stop but she sent her warm wishes to all of us.

Everyone came away full of hope and Joy.

Great to meet Julia in person

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

>> Find out more about El Salvador