Sierra Leone bound!

2012-12-08 15.25.37Joint Diocesan Manager, Denise Grierson writes:

I’m really excited to be on the final countdown for a trip to Sierra Leone, accompanying a group of young adults taking part in the Step into the Gap programme.

Leaving on 23rd February, we will be spending a month visiting the CAFOD office in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital city, and partners Caritas Makeni and Caritas Kenema.

After a couple of days orientation in Freetown with the “in-country” staff, we will split into two groups. I will be travelling with Carmel, Iona, Joe and Peter to meet our partner, Caritas Makeni. Whilst the other group, Carol Cross (Diocesan Officer in Middlesborough), Hannah, Laurence, Naomi and Sarah will be travelling to Caritas Kenema. Each group will spend three weeks with our partners as they begin new projects in the areas of Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihoods. We will be the first visitors to learn about the work they are engaged in as the projects have only recently started.

It’s going to be an amazing experience for all of us and we’re looking forward to meeting our co-workers, partners and the communities where the projects are based. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that we are going so far south but will be in the same time zone (I know, it’s about east to west not north to south!) and of course we plan to absorb some of the culture, noise and excitement of Sierra Leone along the way.

We hope to send the occasional update (although communications can be erratic) and I look forward to sharing more about our experiences with you throughout the year. In the meantime, keep us in your prayers.

A little about Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is still recovering from a long, bitter and vicious civil war which devastated communities and the lives of its citizens.

The civil war had a devastating impact on Sierra Leone – more than two million people were affected, many of whom are still refugees in neighbouring countries.

Sierra Leone is one of the lowest-ranking countries in the world for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living. Almost three-quarters of people live below the poverty line.

Step into the Gap
Every year CAFOD, in partnership with the Society for the Holy Child Jesus and UK partners give young people an exciting opportunity by taking part in Step into the Gap. If you are aged between 18-30, applications are now open for 2013/14 (closing date 25th April 2013)

It offers a programme for leadership development during the year providing a rounded experience both overseas and in the UK. It allows participants to explore and express their faith and develop their leadership skills while bringing about a more just world. It bridges the ‘gap’ between elements of adventure and service that occur in traditional year out experiences.

The group of eight young people are currently on placement in Arundel and Brighton, Hexham and Newcastle, Salford and Lancaster dioceses.

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