On Wednesday more than 50 volunteers gathered for a ‘thank you’ event in celebration of CAFOD’s 50th anniversary.
Guests at the event, which took place at Romero House, were treated to talks from two of CAFOD’s overseas partners.
Sister Pascalina Mambwe, a Franciscan Sister who coordinates the HIV and AIDS programme in Ndola Diocese in Northern Zambia, was the first to speak. She told of the problems the disease causes in her country and the ways in which the Sisters, working closely with CAFOD, are trying to combat such issues. She said:
“With CAFOD’s help, we are working to empower women and train them to provide for themselves without having to resort to such things as prostitution. We have set up special centres and support groups for people with HIV and AIDS to learn how to live and flourish with it and not to spread it to others. We are also trying to teach couples who want to marry or live together to get tested for the disease first, something which is a taboo in my country.
I am proudly standing here to tell you of the impact your contributions to CAFOD are having on people with this disease. You don’t know how much you are doing for the vulnerable in Zambia.”
After Sister Pascalina’s inspiring story came that of Father Andreu Oliva SJ, former Head of the Jesuit Development Services in El Salvador. In the aftermath of the Salvadoran Civil War, Father Andreu and the Jesuits worked with CAFOD to help restore the country to a state of safety, security and productivity. Speaking of one particular housing project, he said:
“When they received the keys to their finished house, with title deed that said it was theirs, you can imagine how happy they were. In truth, it is very difficult to describe how happy they were at being part of that project, a project which gave them so much strength and resolved such a big need.”
He went on to talk of his further work with CAFOD helping people across Central America and of the strong connection he has formed with the charity over more than 20 years.
“We are friends and brothers and sisters. I want to take this opportunity to thank, in a very special way, those of you who have donated money to CAFOD’s work, and those of you who have raised the funds with which CAFOD is then able to support the work of our organisations overseas. Thanks to you, your generosity and your efforts, we as your partners are able to help so many people.”
Following the speeches, volunteers expressed feelings of pride and inspiration. Andy, a CAFOD supporter and student at St Bonaventures School, Forest Gate, said:
“It’s a great inspiration to see these people and hear about their great work and it’s really rewarding to hear about the effects of our work and donations.”
In order to properly thank some of the volunteers that were present, we have included a slideshow of photos taken of the event below.