CAFOD has a wonderful Gap year programme in which young people have the opportunity to volunteer in the UK, gain experience, develop leadership skills and visit CAFOD partners overseas and the communities we work with. This year Siobhan from Milton Keynes was fortunate to get into this programme and visited some of our projects in Sierra Leone. On her return, she was keen to share her experiences and has been into several parishes to do just that. Northampton Cathedral was one of them and this is what she told us about her talk there on Sunday 24 June:
Speaking at Mass can seem daunting, but I soon realised that speaking about something which I am passionate about made those nerves disappear.
I wanted to share my experience of taking part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme and the visit to CAFOD’s partners in Sierra Leone. I explained about the landslide that killed over 1000 people and displaced thousands more in Freetown, and about the work that Caritas Freetown, one of CAFOD’s partners, is doing there. We had the privilege of meeting a group of young volunteers who cleaned and did minor repairs on people’s houses under the supervision of the partner. This enabled residents to move back into their homes.
As a young person myself, I felt inspired to be proactive as a Catholic in achieving social justice, and as Oscar Romero said, we need to be God’s microphone.
I finished with a quote from Pope Francis in his letter to young people: “make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls”
Many people stopped to speak to me after Mass to find out more about the Step into the Gap programme and asked about my year volunteering with CAFOD, which was really wonderful. ”
Thanks so much Siobhan for sharing your experiences and hopefully many more young people will feel inspired to be part of this vision – a world transformed to reflect the Kingdom of God.