African Advantage

At the Volunteers Meeting held recently at Romero House, we were treated to two contrasting views of CAFOD’s work in Uganda. I say “contrasting” but there was agreement in the views expressed although coming from speakers of different perspectives.

Nichole Gillespie is taking a gap year before going to university to study music and drama. During her gap year she has become a CAFOD volunteer, as part of our Step into the Gap Programme, and was excited to find herself off to Uganda, to see the organisation’s work there, but startled, being the first time she had traveled to Africa! Catherine Ogolla is a Country Officer for CAFOD. Based in Nairobi, she is
CAFOD’s Country Representative for Kenya & Uganda and she described how
CAFOD works with Catholic Church partners in Northern Uganda to deliver aid and development projects.

While both speakers come with different life experiences, they were able to illustrate the truly positive work being done in Uganda, where food poverty and poor nutrition are ever present dangers coupled with low levels of income. HIV and AIDS rank high in the health risks further disadvantaging the poor in the country. In the Homabay Diocese, Ms. Ogolla told the meeting, the prevalence rate of HIV is nearly 26% of the population while between 55% and 72% are living below the poverty level.

Ms. Gillespie spoke about the programme to extend the installation of water pumps into villages and rural areas. Many of these are now motorised, running off solar panels, so water can be delivered directly to where it is most needed such as schools and medical centres. She was both moved and encouraged to see the vast difference this programme was making to Ugandans who now have clean water for drinking and cooking. However, Ms. Ogolla spoke of the rivalries that can occur over the use of such facilities with pastoralists sometimes wanting the water for their livestock. Such conflicts call for careful handling. As the number of bores and pumps grow so these programmes are being handed over to the local communities and authorities, who are often grateful to our organisation and partners for leading the way, effectively.

This sort of partnership ensures that existing projects are sustainable and allows for future expansion and innovation. It ensures that assistance is offered in the form of quality and dignified programmes to the poorest, the vulnerable and marginalised.

But both of our speakers were disturbed by the abuse of workers by corporations and talked about an open cast mining facility where people worked unprotected in the sun all day, digging and filling large trucks with the resulting ore. Nursing mothers were seen working on the site and, of course, no safety equipment was in evidence. People worked in shorts and tee shits. For their labour they were paid just twenty five pence for every lorry load. This shocked both speakers and volunteers but, Ms. Ogolla told the meeting that awareness creation on entitlements had started with the local community, and discussions and advocacy was in progress with the mining companies through a Church partner.

The holistic, integrated programme approach adopted in Uganda both ensures programmes are sustainable while empowering people and communities. Once more demonstrating how, Careful CAFOD Delivers.

The meeting concluded with a moving community Mass. We are grateful to Father Thomas Udie, from the English Martyrs Catholic Church in Walworth, for celebrating this Mass with us.

Father Udie Celebrant at our Community Mass

Volunteer metings are great places to meet other volunteer from different parishes and exchange ideas as well as getting to know what is happening behind the scenes at CAFOD. There’s another chance to experience this camaraderie on the 8th June. It’s at

Westminster Catholic Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Ave, SW1P 1QH

We can meet our new director, Christine Allen, and chat to some of CAFOD’s Trustees and Central Leadership Team. Sounds like an event too good, and too important, to miss. Book your place here.

Or cut and paste the URL into your browser:

Summer Stirrings

If you thought the summer was going to be a time when you could “park” all your commitments and just get on with enjoying the sunshine, well, think again. Those at the Volunteers Meeting, held recently at Romero House, were left in no doubt that CAFOD is gearing up for it’s next big campaign reaching out to those overseas, desperate for CAFOD’s help, by calling for change right here in the UK. “How does that work”, I hear you asking?

Tony Sheen

The simple truth is that Climate Change is affecting the poorest of the planet disproportionately more than the rest of the population. Remember the story of Mahinur the subject of our Lent appeal, who had been driven to the edge of starvation by climate change? And shortly after that Cyclone Idai which devastated much of Mozambique and surrounding African states? Tony Sheen, Westminster’s Volunteer Organiser, put the meeting into context by announcing that the appeals, in both cases raised £1.8m, Money which allowed CAFOD to bring much needed Emergency Relief which would not have been possible without the separate, focused appeals.

But the lesson is clear. World poverty cannot be tackled without addressing the problem of Climate Change. This was grasped and Highlighted by Pope Francis in his inspirational open encyclical “Laudato Si’”. This calls on all of us to act, to change our way of life, to leave as small a footprint on our climate as we can, and to encourage others to do likewise. To this end CAFOD will be launching a campaign this summer taking as it’s title an apt phrase from the Pope’s Encyclical, “Our Common Home”.

There’s a lot of ways in which we can all contribute to this initiative.

  • What about organising a creation Mass in your Parish to give thanks for the gift of creation and Pray for Our Common Home? Talk to your Parish Priest and other CAFOD volunteers in your parish to organise this special celebration.
  • You could write to your Member of Parliament, or the Prime Minister, asking them to support making the UK a ZERO Carbon country by 2045, earlier than government has planned. You can find out more about this here
  • Urge your Parish Priest and other parishioners to make yours a Live Simply Parish. There’s more information here
  • Support Fair Traded groceries and household products. Does your parish repository stock Fair Trade items? If not campaign for it to do so and always look for the Fair trade symbol of things you buy at the local supermarket.

The Campaigns Team have prepared leaflets and all sorts of other material to help us all get behind this campaign. You can find out more by visiting the CAFOD Our Common Home Website:

Or click Here

Or by contacting the Westminster Regional Volunteers office on:

020 8449 6970

* The Faitrade Mark is the registered trade mark of the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations international e.V. (FLO)

EVENT: Cry of the Poor & Cry of the Earth Talk, 23 May

All are welcome to our Cry of the Poor & Cry of the Earth Talk!

Cry of the Poor & Cry of the Earth talk poster
Cry of the Poor & Cry of the Earth talk poster

CAFOD and the Jesuits are jointly hosting an event with Mauricio Lopez, the Executive Secretary of the Ecclesial Network for the Pan-Amazon (REPAM) on 23 May at 6:45pm at Farm Street, London, W1K 3AH.  

In case you are unable to make the 23 May, Mauricio will be visiting Romero House on 20 May and will give a lunchtime talk which will be recorded as a webinar.

Please get in touch if you have any questions on 0208 449 6970.