Leave no-one behind

At the heart of the 2030 agenda is to ‘Leave no one behind’; this means reaching the most vulnerable groups in society and the hardest to reach areas, development must reach everyone. After having some time to reflect on my experience in Sierra Leone this is something which has stuck with with me.


Step into the Gap volunteers Siobhan, Chris, Kayleigh and Hannah

‘Leave no one behind’ was evident in Bo where CAFOD works in partnership with the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary. In many of these communities CAFOD is the first NGO to ever work there because of the remoteness and the road conditions. We visited Bo during the dry season so there roads were dry, but even then the communities were difficult to access due to the roads being so bumpy. In the rainy season the roads will have been far more difficult to drive on and sometimes communities will go days without access to the city.

Falla is a remote community in Bo, it was much more remote that other communities we visited and the road was narrower and windier. Before the Missionary Sisters and of the Holy Rosary came to the village they did not have access to safe drinking water. There was no access for vehicles to the village because of a streams and it


The bridge the community built in Falla

could only be accessed on foot. There was no way for the digger to access this community to build a borehole. This community were determined to have access to clean water that they came together and built a bridge out of palm trees. CAFOD are the only NGO to have ever worked in this community, there are now less cases of cholera in the community.


We also met widowed women whose husbands had died during the civil war many had children and to bring them up as a single parent, they received micro grants which allowed them set up businesses. Regina received one of the grants and she sells peanuts, soap, cigarettes, biscuits and sugar. Regina said “I used to carry wood from Manguama to Bo to sell. I got up at 5am. 12 sticks of wood are really heavy and it is a two and a half hour walk. Sometimes the sticks would not sell so I would leave them with some builders to sell for me and collect the money another day. Then I would do farm work. The farm is also far from town. I would work three to four hours at the farm.”


Women who had received the micro grants

It was inspiring to see development reaching the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups, but also to see how their voices were heard and listened to.


I am now back in Birmingham sharing CAFOD’s working in Sierra Leone at schools, groups and parishes.


Life as a Gapper at Newman University

As I near the end of my time as a gapper at Newman University I want to take some time to reflect on the year.

Newman University in Bartley Green, Birmingham is a small university with a strong sense of community. It is a different university, at the core are the thoughts and ideas of Blessed John Henry Newman, he emphasized that the main role of university is to train the mind which is evident at Newman University today. The Newman community is committed living out social justice in many ways including, creating an environmentally friendly campus and promoting Fairtrade.

I have had an incredible year and have enjoyed every bit of it! It’s has been great to both raise awareness of social justice issues on campus and be there for students needing a listing ear. Chaplaincy and my faith were an important part of my university experience so I have enjoyed giving something back. Here are just a few of the highlights

Soup kitchen

Every Friday I have run soup kitchen with the help of Linnea, an international studies student from the US. Every few weeks we have given soup kitchen a global justice theme such as family fast day, refugees or my visit to Sierra Leone. One week we watched the documentary ‘Living on one dollar’ which looks at poverty and microfinance in rural Guatemala.

Green Week

Chaplaincy took part in green week at Newman where amongst all the activities, I had a stall in the atrium where I gave out green heart stickers from the climate coalition and looked at the impacts of climate change in developing countries. I was also able to lead a reflection at Newman Christian Union on climate change and things we can do as individuals.

Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade fortnight celebrates the Fairtrade movement; it took place between the 26th February and the 11th March 2018. CAFOD, along with Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft, the World Development Movement and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, founded the Fairtrade Foundation. Fairtrade ensures that farmers and workers receive decent pay and working conditions in developing countries. Empowerment is at the core of the Fairtrade movement. During Fairtrade fortnight myself and a few students dressed up as bananas to raise awareness and sell Fairtrade chocolate.

The visit to CAFOD partners in Sierra Leone was definately a highlight and its been a privilege to share those stories of hope both at Newman University and around the Archdiocese of Birmingham!

Step into the Gap: An inspiring week in Kambia

With the community of Kambia.

CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Siobhan Doyle, who is currently completing her placement at Newman University, shares her experience of meeting CAFOD’s partners in Sierra Leone.

We have spent a week in Kambia visiting CAFOD’s partner – The Kambia District Development and Rehabilitation Organisation, KADDRO for short. The staff have been so welcoming and so willing to answer all of our questions.

We visited three rural communities in Kambia where KADDRO works on access to water, sanitation and health, savings and loans groups, ways to make a living projects and women’s breastfeeding and pregnancy groups.

Working in partnership

When we travelled to the communities the roads were bumpy and windy, it felt much more rural than what I consider to be rural in England. When we arrived, every community greeted us with such a warm welcome with lots of singing. The children were so excited to see us.

It was so great to see how dedicated the communities were to making these projects work and how CAFOD, KADDRO and the communities all work in partnership. I studied International Development at university, so it was great to see this work first hand.

Alusine Sankoh at the borehole.
Alusine Sankoh at the borehole.

One of the groups we met was the WASH (water, sanitation and health) committee in the Yeli Kunthai community. Before KADDRO’s intervention, many did not have access to safe drinking water, they would usually need to walk to the nearest stream which could be two miles away. KADDRO helped to install a borehole in the community so they no longer had to walk to drink unsafe water, and they had more time to spend on their farms.

Learning to repair, fix and mend

Alusine Sankoh who is 25-years-old and lives in the community as the mechanic told us that “even if it gets hot we can go the pump and freshen up. That never happened before.”

Alusine told us that he had received training, from KADDRO, on how to repair the borehole. This meant that should anything go wrong with the borehole, he would be able to repair it. He was so happy to have received this training, having dropped out of school to become a moterbike taxi when he was younger.

When his father died, Alusine returned to the community but struggled to find work as he had missed out of a lot of his education. With the training provided by KADDRO, he is now not only able to repair the borehole in his community but also the boreholes in other communities. This work meant that he now had additional income and this had helped him to make a living.

I felt inspired by Alusine story and his determination to work as a mechanic. It was great to see how a borehole can also provide someone with a source of living as well as safe drinking water. It shows the true reach of these projects and how they can have knock-on effects on all aspects of people’s lives.

Find out more about Step into the Gap