Volunteers from Oxford N & S Deaneries get inspired for Lent 2017

In preparation for the Lent Fast Day on 10 March, volunteers from Oxford North and South deaneries came together to hear about CAFOD’s work in Zambia.  We were very kindly hosted by the parish of Our Lady help of Christians – Cowley (Oxford).  The parish not only allowed us to use the lovely facilities (which all commented on) but Fr Graham even helped set and clear up.  Thank you so much!

Lent Supporters' Day - Ox N&S Deaneries

Lent Supporters’ Day – Oxford  N & S Deaneries

We were delighted to welcome four new volunteers since Harvest 2016, Margaret and Carmila from Sacred Heart (Blackbird Leys) , David (from Our Lady’s Cowley) and Gloria from Sacred Heart (Henley-on-Thames).  These events are a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to meet, share ideas, build friendships and ask for /offer support to each other.  This was clearly evident throughout the session.

Deborah Purfield, Coordinator for CAFOD in Oxford N & S deaneries, welcomed all and the day started with the group settling down to a reflective opening prayer focusing on the Beatitudes which included the six “additional” Beatitudes, put forward by Pope Francis on All Saints Day in 2016, to “ recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy.”   This was so well received that it was asked for again at the end.  We were also reminded of CAFOD’s vision of a world transformed to reflect the Kingdom of God throughout the session.

Group sharing

Group sharing

An update was given on donations received from Harvest 2016 and beyond, we heard about CAFOD’s work in Zambia – this Lent Fast Day focus country. Debbie spoke enthusiastically about Sister Yvonne and the Households in Distress programme in Mbala, Zambia.  The programme has helped people like Florence become self-sufficient by running their own artisanal businesses such as fish farming and bee keeping.  These projects have transformed the lives of people in some the world’s poorest communities. There was discussion on how this programme reflected CAFOD’s vision so well.   The short video about Florence’s fish farming was shown. Debbie mentioned the detailed video about CAFOD’s work in Zambia which gives more information about the programme.

After the break (where there was time to chat to others and share ideas) we unpacked the fast day resources and discussed how best to promote Fast day in the parish. Debbie also mentioned about promoting campaigns outside Fast Day times and encouraged all to sign up to be MP correspondents.  The group seemed keen to work together and said they would try and include schools in their fundraising and campaigning activities if possible.

There is a great A-Z of fundraising ideas for Lent which seemed to interest those who wanted to do something different.

The day concluded with a reflection from Sr Yvonne and all said the fast day prayer together.  A few were able to stay for a shared lunch where more discussions took place.  We even had Fr Graham join us which was lovely.  Gloria was so enthused and said, “I shall see if I can encourage more people to volunteer in the Goring parish too as I know people there”.  What an example of evangelization!

Sandra’s (St Hugh of Lincoln Woodstock) comment seem to reflect the general feeling from the day, “it was a wonderful, knowledgeable and inspiring day. I feel enthused to do more and try different things!  Thanks so much”

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer/parish contact please get in touch or call 01844 274


Meetings for CAFOD Supporters


Please come along to our upcoming meetings and hear about CAFOD’s work in Zambia and how to inspire others this Lent.


Saturday 4 February, 10.30am-1.00pm:                                                                                       Holy Trinity Parish Centre, London Road, Newcastle, Staffs, ST5 1LQ

Wednesday 8 February, 7.00-8.30pm:                                                                                              St Mary’s Parish Centre, Leveson Street, Willenhall, WV13 1DA

Saturday 18 February, 10am – 1.30pm:                                                                                              St Joseph, Chalfont St Peter, SL9 8RY

Saturday 18 February, 10.30-12.00am:                                                                                              St Anne’s Church, 26 Bridle Lane, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3HB

Monday 20 February, 7.45-9.15pm:                                                                                                    St Thomas More parish, 112 Knoll Drive, Coventry, CV3 5DE (including a presentation on LiveSimply)

Wednesday 22 February, 10am – 12:30pm:                                                                                   Our Lady Help of Christians, Oxford, OX4 2ND

Thursday 23 February, 7.30-9pm:                                                                                                       St John the Evangelist parish, 25 South Bar Street, Banbury, OX16 9AF                      (including a talk by Bishop William Kenney on Iraq and South Sudan)

Saturday 25 February, 10.30am – 12.00nn:                                                                                      St. Chad’s & All Saints, Sedgley, DY3 3UE


Thursday 9th March, 7pm (not 7.30pm as previously stated):                                                       Mass on the eve of CAFOD’s Lent fast day (celebrated by bishop Robert Byrne).                  Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Redditch, B98 8LT

Friday 10th March:                                                                                                                                  CAFOD Lent Fast Day

For more information contact: 01922 722944 or birmingham@cafod.org.uk

St Martin’s Makes a Splash!

St Martin's primary Lent 2016 (1280x960)

Thank you so much to St Martin’s Catholic Primary School in Caversham, Reading for all your brilliant support for CAFOD!  Last week their wonderful Education Volunteer, Linda Heneghan, visited the school to talk to the children about water and how they all use it in their everyday lives. She was ably assisted of course by Francesca (Linda’s trusty companion on all her visits) who had a shower (but didn’t wash her hair) and brushed her teeth – all in her special CAFOD towel!

Linda started her assembly by telling them about Charlie, who lives in the North West of England, and Nadopun who lives in Uganda.  Charlie’s family had to boil their water last year because there was bacteria in their water supply which would have made them sick if they drank it from the tap.   The problem only lasted a few weeks but for some children around the world, not having fresh water is a constant problem.

Nadopun is 9 and lives in Uganda. She likes going to school with her friends and watching films. Linda explained that Uganda is in the East of Africa and that it’s a beautiful country, however 9.2M people there do not have access to safe water. That’s one in every four people in the country! The shortage of water is down to the lack of access to water in remote areas and the changing, unpredictable and increasingly dry climate.

Watch our special film about Nadopun’s older sister Proscovia here .Proscovia.jpgAs Linda explained to the children, the burden of collecting water often falls on girls and this in turn means that many drop out of school so that their families have the water that they need to drink, cook and wash.

When the local water pump broke, Nadopun’s mother and oldest sisters had to walk a long way to get water. Sometimes they couldn’t get to other boreholes so they had to collect water from the river. Nadopun’s mother says the water from the river is ‘awful’. Her brother got sick from drinking it.  CAFOD helped them fix their local borehole and now they have clean water near their home.

During the assembly Linda asked some volunteers to walk slowly round the hall while holding empty buckets by the handles. They had to continue their walk whilst Linda continued with the assembly and occasionally she would stop them and ask how it felt. Did their arms hurt? Did the bucket feel heavier? The aim of this exercise was to give the children an idea of what Nadopun and her family have to do every day, and how tiring this must be for them.

St Martin's Pri Caversham 2

Linda then ended the assembly by reminding the children that the Pope has said that this year is a special Year of Mercy and one of the things we can do to show we love and care for others is to give drink to those who are thirsty.  So when we are helping communities to have access to clean water this Lent through our ‘Make a Splash’ appeal, we are being merciful, just as God is merciful to us.

Later on, Linda led a workshop with Year 6 and played our ‘Life without taps’ game. Linda asked the children to imagine what it would be like to have to carry water long distances. She asked for volunteers to form ‘Family’ groups, and then to imagine themselves as farmers in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, who live in a village where their pump has broken down.

Each group had to work together to ‘collect’ water from a ‘river’ two kilometres away. The children had to make sure they collected enough to meet their family’s needs, for things such as drinking water and also water for their crops. Throughout the game groups were also given ‘chance cards’ which meant they then had to deal with changes to their situation that could affect their ability to collect enough water. The first family to collect the minimum daily amount of water was the winner!

The aim of the game was to show how hard it is to obtain enough water for daily life in areas where there are no taps nearby and the water supply is unreliable and quite possibly polluted. At the end of the game, each family had to fill in a sheet to show how many of their needs they have been able to fulfil through the collection of water. From this activity the children learned to value the importance of having clean safe water, and how precious it is to their lives.  This was also in preparation for their talks for the Speaking Up for CAFOD competition that they will take part in this April too!

Thank you so much to everyone at St Martin’s for all their enthusiasm and support for CAFOD and thank you too to Linda for this lovely visit!

Find out more about our work on water in our primary school resources.

Read more about our special Lenten appeal.  This Lent every pound raised will be doubled by the UK Government so it will have double the impact!