CAFOD Volunteers met recently at Romero House as part of the preparation for the forthcoming round of parish talks over harvest. We were fortunate to have Christine Allen, the director of CAFOD, address us and tell us of her recent visit to Uganda and The Congo. During the course of her visit she went to Moroto, a rural community in north west Uganda from where Fabiano fares, who is the subject of this year’s Harvest appeal.
Ms. Allen described herself as having, “grown up with CAFOD” and was now pleased to be able to play such a central role in the organisation she values so greatly. She was also fascinated to see it’s work at such close quarters and described the benefits of working through, “Local Experts”. In Moroto, Caritas Moroto provides the local church social assistance to their communities and are active in promoting various programmes. By working through them CAFOD is able to ensure that the aid is delivered efficiently because, knowing the local terrain, infrastructure and communities, they are alive to the needs of the people. Projects tend to be properly designed to be both helpful and sustainable, while at the same time Caritas Moroto is able to ensure that there are safe working conditions and the safeguarding of children and other vulnerable people. In this way too, the projects are run by local people so CAFOD is not seen, like some other NGOs, as a “bunch of white saviours.”
Moroto is one of the poorest diocese in Uganda. Roads are poor so access is difficult and rural communities are often without basic necessities, clean water being most commonly absent. Ms. Allen visited a health centre and a school, both of which had Installed a solar powered pump to bring fresh water from bore holes that had been repaired or refurbished. Again, the local community had been responsible for these projects supported CAFOD. As Ms. Allen explained, both projects had been made possible by the generosity of British parishioners and some match funding by our government. Recent government pronouncements about trying to make sure overseas aid is spent in a way that is also beneficial to the UK have caused some to fear that it might dry up for organisations such as CAFOD but Ms. Allen said the CAFOD is very well thought of in government circles and there was no indications that the match funding will stop. We are engaging in plans for future bids.
The provision of clean, safe water is central to the development of rural communities, At the health centre, attendance has increased markedly since word went round that there was access to fresh water there. As a result the general population is healthier and people are no longer afraid to ask for medical advise and assistance, previously fearing further infection. As a consequence, an Italian NGO now has plans to develop the repaired bore hole further, and distribute fresh water around the immediate locality.
At the school there have again been spin-offs for the local community but the main beneficiaries are the children. The school have formed a WASH Club, Water and Sanitation and Health Club. This group of children spread information and encourage others to stay clean and stay healthy. The headmaster reports that children no longer arrive tired to school, having been up and working early to bring home the family’s water supplies. Children also tend to stay in school longer too, actually completing their education. This is most noticeable amongst older girls who are now assured of proper sanitary provision and are no longer stigmatised. The headmaster reported that the school role has increase from an initial 93 to 400 at the end of last year and is now 570.
In the UK we tend to take water for granted but with increasingly hot summers and more frequent droughts all that could change. The meeting was shown figures that indicate this country could run out of water by 2050, not having enough to supply our needs, unless we can alter our ways and reduce our impact on the causes of climate change. So while places like Moroto desperately need our help, we must also look after our own backyard.
To this end CAFOD is promoting the ‘Our Common Home’ campaign, calling on volunteers to promote action against climate change here, in our parishes. Resources are available to help with raising awareness amongst our young people, reviewing our own impact on the climate by living simply as well as a petition aimed at the government to continue it’s declared aims of pursuing a zero emissions policy.
So there is a lot to do both, abroad and in the UK, and CAFOD is always in need of concerned volunteers. It’s success is due to their industry and enthusiasm. So if you are looking for a new challenge or know someone who is sympathetic to CAFOD and it’s aims, there are many ways of getting involved that can all be tailored to suit individual circumstances. Check out the website and click here to download Harvest Fast Day resources.
or attend the next volunteers meting to be held at the church of Christ The King at Oakwood on Wed 18th September from 2.30-4pm. Directions can be found here: