CAFOD Brentwood office volunteer Gloria Turner describes the motivation behind CAFOD’s ambition to leave no one beyond reach…
Volunteering for CAFOD Brentwood allows me to gain a deeper understanding of the wonderful work this organisation carries out. On reading about this year’s Lenten focus I was saddened to learn that CAFOD has to turn down 1 in 3 requests for assistance.
It was inspiring, but also sobering, reading CAFOD’s Film and Photography Officer Thom Flint’s story of his trip to Marsabit County in Kenya.
He met CAFOD’s partner and local expert, Isacko Jirma, who actually grew up in one of the villages Thom visited and filmed during his trip.
Isacko was leading a “ food voucher distribution” where food vouchers were being handed out to redeem the next day.
One of the villagers, 30 year old Kushi, received a food voucher so she could choose from many different kinds of food in order to feed all her six children.
This family is still living in an emergency situation and in need of assistance as a result of the East Africa drought in 2016 when they lost everything.
“With vouchers, I am not restricted when I go to the shop I can get many kinds of food items…These vouchers, they really helped my family. Without this voucher I could have lost some of my children out of hunger.”
It was heartwarming to see what a big impact something as simple as a food voucher was having on the lives of Kushi and her children, but also heartbreaking, as Isacko revealed to Thom that there were communities in the area that they simply were not able to help despite having a team there ready and willing to reach everyone. Isacko expressed his frustration to Thom about being unable to help simply due to a lack of money and how they had to set painful targets:
“What is so frustrating for us as a humanitarian development organisation is the inability, because of limited resources, to reach these people. It is the biggest challenge we have, it is the biggest frustration that we undergo…And we had to painfully do targeting, that in a village you can only support 50% or 40%. The rest, what do you do?”
As a retired teacher, my working life revolved around targets which I considered challenging at the time but there are few challenges greater than the CAFOD team in this area having to set painfully low targets – only 40 or 50% of villagers can be supported, simply due to a lack of money.
The good news is that although we do not yet have the money or resources to leave no one beyond reach, we do have the means. The Church’s worldwide network of development agencies, Caritas, are uniquely placed to reach out to people in many of the world’s poorest and most hard-to-reach communities. CAFOD as a member of the Caritas Network already works with local experts to ensure that as many people as possible are helped to help themselves. But there is much more to do.
One of CAFOD’s Lenten stories this year is about Mahinur.
Mahinur and her family are an example of the one in three who has not been reached. She lives very near the coast, in an area that’s badly hit by climate change. Cyclones are common, salty sea water floods the rice fields, and – most devastatingly for Mahinur – a drought last year killed all the fish.
“There should be fish in the river now – it’s the right time of year – but there’s nothing. I have no food and no money.”
Mahinur has a disabled husband and son to support, so she’s working every hour of the day doing odd jobs for her neighbours in return for rice. It’s not enough. Some days the family just drink water for dinner.
Sadly, there is no happy ending to Mahinur’s story. This is the situation she faces today, because CAFOD haven’t been able to support her. She is the one in three.
Let us hope and pray that word of CAFOD’s crucial work can be spread to those people who do not yet know of it and who may be able to support the teams who are ready to help the one in three when funds become available.
No one should be beyond reach.