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.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

 

More than academic performance at St Paul School – Milton Keynes

The new Year 12 Sixth Formers at Saint Paul’s School in Milton Keynes are exploring ideas for extending their personal development through curricular enrichment. This could mean many things,  for example volunteering for community service.

IMG_2917

Cathy talks to Year 12 students – St Paul School Milton Keynes

Cathy Stormonth, our CAFOD Education volunteer was very happy to talk to the Year 12 group and give them some useful ideas.  Some students are already working with the local primary Catholic schools helping with reading and supporting other areas of learning. The schools are also keen to see their  past students return to take part in CAFOD activities too. This could be leading an assembly, a pilgrimage, a class workshop or supporting the school’s CAFOD campaigning or fundraising activities.

The students were particularly interested in the ‘Power to be’ campaign and were concerned about the World Bank’s limited investment in sustainable energy (only 3% of its total budget). The Sixth Form Chaplain Sharon Robinson was enthusiastic about helping with more publicity and posters about the ‘Power to be’ campaign. She felt that students would be very keen to campaign and raise awareness of this massive global challenge, as one in five children globally lacks access to electricity.

‘Sustainable solar energy is such an obvious solution to improving the lives of the poorest in African countries.’

>> Sign the Power to Be petition here

IMG_2923

Cathy also told students about other CAFOD fundraising activities and advised them on how to get involved not just at the school but also in their wider parish communities. Cathy challenged students to be entrepreneurs and lobbyists, to raise funds for great global causes and to protest about injustices which keep people in poverty.  The reaction to these ideas was very positive and Cathy will continue to work with staff at St Paul’s to support students who want to get involved.

>> Add your voice to the thousands by signing the Power to Be petition