Seeds and food for thought this Harvest Fast Day

Today is Harvest Fast Day and across the country families, individuals, parishes and schools will be standing in solidarity with people such as Edelmira (below) and her family in her community in El Salvador which is the focus of this year’s Fast Day appeal.

El Salvador was of course also the home of Blessed Oscar Romero, who is still held with deep reverence by Salvadoreans and many millions of others across the world. The prayer attributed to Oscar Romero, ‘A step along the way’ reminds us of the importance to allow space for God’s grace in our work and in our lives:

We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but we are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.

Grace and abundance are two themes closely connected to CAFOD’s approach to Harvest. Drawing on the story of the wedding at Cana, CAFOD’s theological adviser, Fr Augusto Zampini Davies describes how an appreciation of the significance of harvest is enriched by an understanding of ideas of grace and abundance:

“In ancient biblical times, harvest was a feast connected with God’s abundant gift. As citizens of our modern world, detached from actual food production, we can misinterpret the importance of those feasts.  But we are still familiar with wedding feasts.   The celebration of a good harvest, whose first products were offered to God, could be compared to a good wedding feast, in which wine, food and gifts are offered to the invitees.  In both celebrations, when related to God, the centrality is abundance: of fruits, love and joy, an abundance that transforms all who partake in the feast, bolstering their capacity to live life to the full”.

So let us make room once more for God’s grace this Harvest, and as we fast and enjoy our Prayer cardsimple soup lunches, remember that in our work for CAFOD we are sowing the seeds for the great Harvest that is to come.

Thank you to all our volunteers for all you have done and are doing this Harvest Fast Day.

 

 

Young CAFOD supporter receives award for his efforts to help those in need

CAFOD supporter Rosen Bello has received an award for his efforts to help vulnerable people in need. Rosen, aged 14 and from Beckton, was given the Brentwood Diocese School’s Citizenship Award for his continuous efforts to raise money for the aid agency CAFOD.

Rosen’s fundraising efforts began when he was 12.  He was keen to join CAFOD’s Young Leadership Scheme but, as the scheme is for pupils aged 16 and over, he was too young. Unperturbed, Rosen took matters into his own hands.  With the help of his mum, Nicole, he organised a community ‘Fun Day’ in Dagenham where there was a BBQ, community games and a sweet stall.  Inspired by his first foray into fundraising, Rosen went on to organise another Fun Day in Plaistow last September and in March Rosen, his cousin and younger sister sold cookies for CAFOD’s Lent campaign.

Rosen Bello and cousins

His enthusiasm for fundraising and supporting those in need did not go unnoticed by those around him.  Having been recognised for his selfless nature with the Jack Petchey award last year, which recognises achievement in young people, he was then nominated for a Diocesan award.  Rosen, who said he was surprised and proud to receive the award, was presented with it during a mass at Brentwood Cathedral led by Bishop Allan.

Rosen said:

“We should support CAFOD because we’re privileged being born in this country and should do something to help others.  We were born in a country with lots of resources so we should do what we can for people in countries who don’t have the things we do.”

Nicole, Rosen’s mum, said:

“I like to support him with his ideas. When he tells me his plans, I tell him ‘I’m behind you’.  I want to support his passion.”

The money raised by Rosen will help those living in extreme poverty to reach their full potential, regardless of religion or culture, by equipping them with the skills and opportunities to live with dignity, support their families and give something back to their communities.

Rosen’s desire to stand in solidarity with those in need shows no sign of flailing; he’s organising another Community Fun Day in Plaistow – this time over two days – on the 8th and 9th July.

It’s inspiring to see young people like Rosen taking the initiative and doing all they can to raise money for those in need.  People often bemoan the apathy of the youth but Rosen completely contradicts this notion.  His drive and enthusiasm is fantastic to see.  Thanks for all you do, Rosen!

Volunteering in schools: Inspiring the younger generation

Since 2009, when he first became a schools volunteer, Peter Jones has made over 215 visits to primary and secondary schools in his local area to deliver assemblies and workshops on behalf of CAFOD.

Peter, why did you want to become a schools volunter for CAFOD?

Having retired from HM Customs and Excise, I wanted to work more actively for a charity that I support. As a long-time member of the St Vincent de Paul Society, I have a strong interest in alleviating and eradicating poverty suffered by those at home and overseas.  I had experience of speaking in schools about the work of HM Customs & Excise and felt that I could use this experience to engage young people with themes of social justice and poverty.

St Ursula's Harvest assembly resized

How did you become a schools volunteer?

I responded to a request by CAFOD in a parish newsletter inviting people to volunteer to talk in schools about CAFOD’s work around the world. There was a short application form to fill in and I was required to have a DBS check as the role would be working with young people and children. I also attended an ‘Understanding CAFOD’ course in which we were provided with an overview of CAFOD’s work and how as an organisation it works with partners and volunteers. There were also 2 days of training on giving assemblies and workshops in schools and there was an opportunity to practice this with other volunteers. We were also encouraged to ‘shadow’ current schools volunteers so that we could see how it works in practice. This sounds a lot but it is done over a period of time and was actually very enjoyable!

Peter at All Saints Dagenham

What do you get out of being a schools volunteer?

I find it very rewarding to get feedback from pupils and teachers on what they have learnt from the sessions, especially when on subsequent visits to the school they remember what you told them maybe one or two years previously. It is also gratifying to hear from secondary school pupils how they remember the CAFOD presentations that they received in primary schools and to see how they are putting the lessons into practice in their teenage years with fundraising and social action. The challenge is to find how best to deliver the wonderful material that CAFOD provide to best suit the audience according to age, context and relevant curriculum links.

Sacred Heart cafod-cheque-Nov-2015-1024x768

Would you like to volunteer for CAFOD in schools? You can find our more information about being a volunteer with children and young people on CAFOD’s website.

You can also read about some of our other wonderful volunteers and how they inspire others to make a difference to the lives of millions of people across the world.