Hearing the Cry of the Poor

Sister Clara inspires CAFOD volunteers this Harvest


Sister Clara, from the Sacred Heart order, raised the spirits of nearly sixty people when she addressed an information meeting at the Cockfosters Regional Office. Speaking with great warmth and clarity, she explained the difference that CAFOD had made to the lives of thousands of poor people in her home country, Zambia.

At a time time of great need, when challenged by the calamities of the AIDS epidemic and rapid climate change, her sisters had tended the sick and dying. In the early 1990s, and with CAFOD”s help, they built a community school for orphans and other vulnerable children which had enabled them to master practical skills to support themselves, and their families, and continue their education. With the introduction of life-saving retroviral drugs, CAFOD was continuing to support projects which restored to people with the disease, self esteem and confidence through training in skills and know how. They had won a livelihood and were being empowered, thanks to the generosity of Catholics in England and Wales, through CAFOD.

The Church in Zambia, rooted in the lives of the poor, had been the first major voice to raise alarm about climate change. For decades before 2003 the vital rains came to Zambian farmers precisely on October 24 every year. Since then there has been no pattern in the timing or the quantity of the rain, and last year the late arrival of floods had ruined the harvest. With CAFOD’s help ZamSrClarabian farmers were switching from growing maize to growing pumpkins, which were better suited to the new conditions.

Sister Clara said that her order had a record of tackling problems that others would not. They had been first to provide schools for girls in Zambia in the 1950s. Then they had gone against the  mindset of the times by opening schools for children with special needs. With the help of CAFOD they were giving these people, too, livelihoods and confidence in the future.

The inspirational account given by Sister Clara, and the great warmth of her gratitude to the CAFOD volunteers, who made up nearly all of her audience, was the perfect rallying call as the Harvest Family Fast Day, on October 5th, becomes the focus. If any further encouragement was needed Tony Sheen, our Community Clara&groupParticipation Co-ordinator, told the volunteers that the magnificent sum of £4.274,million was being used at that very time to bring relief to people whose lives were in jeopardy because of the typhoon in the Philippines and the floods in Kerala. CAFOD was extending not hand outs, but a helping hand to people who had shown, and would show, that they could overcome devastating problems and assert their strengths and dignity. Sr Clara’s words reminded all present what a privilege it was to help in their victory over adversities.

Find out how you can support CAFOD this  Harvest here


Are you a CAFOD Supporter? Here’s a day especially for you

SupportersDayPoasterSister Clara is a firm favourite. She has addressed meetings of CAFOD volunteers on a number of occasions and always wins her audience with her background knowledge and sincerity. On the 19th September, at the regional office, at the Church of Christ the King in Oakwood, she will be speaking about CAFOD’s work carried out through our partners in Zambia. Although the Harvest talk and appeal will focus on a project in Uganda, Sister Clara’s address will give us all a feel for conditions on the African continent and information we can pass on to anyone enquiring at Mass about what other projects we are promoting. In addition you will meet other volunteers there from across Westminster and have the opportunity to raise with Tony Sheen, our Community Participation Co-ordinator any queries you may have as we gear up for the Harvest Appeal.

OakwoodMapFor those that haven’t been to the Oakwood Office, I should say that it is easy to get to. It’s about ten or fifteen minutes walk from Oakwood Underground Station, on the Piccadilly Line. Alternatively, from the station, the 107 bus passes the door.  If you are using a SatNav the address is 29 Bramley Road N14 4HE.  The office is on the first floor, just walk across the church porch and up the stairs. Oh, and I nearly forgot, you cannot miss the church, it has the words Vita et Pax in large letters across the side facing the road and an enormous cross set into the tower.

To book your place please contact the Oakwood Office on 020 8449 6970. Better still, e-mail them at westminster@cafod.org.uk. This promises to be an afternoon well spent.


The Essential Nature of Water – Mark Chamberlain

HarvestPicIn a detailed and often passionate address, to CAFOD supporters at Romaro House recently, Mark Chamberlain outlined the essential nature of water and the vital choices that have to be made if there is not enough of this commonBelief liquid that we all take for granted here in the UK. Focusing on the plight of people in the remote north of Uganda, in a village known as Moroto, Mark outlined the reasons why this issue has become the subject of this year’s Harvest appeal.

Taking the, at times, tragic story of Longora who found herself pregnant, expecting her child’s imminent birth, during a drought that had lasted four years, Mark recounted how the village population had been reduced to drinking the meagre supply of heavily polluted water from a nearby stream. Of course, water is not only for drinking. The villager’s plight had become desperate, unable to wash, unable to cook properly, even unable to grow the crops on which they depended for survival. Add to that the toxic nature of the little water they did have access to, and it is amazing that they survived at all. Longora barely survived, being stuck with a malaria infection, and her child didn’t survive. He succumbed to the infection too, soon after his birth.

Mark went on to illustrate how further avoidable tragedies like these were stemmed partly by the simple repair of a water pump but, more importantly, H&Sby the education of the villagers in the repair and maintenance of the device, something that really should have been the real priority all along. From this effort there have been several other important developments in the life of the village including a growing recognition of the equality and dignity of women, the education of the children, particularly the girls, and a new gelling of the community, now confident of it’s own ability to take charge of it’s future.

Moroto is still without electricity, gas, or easily accessible healthcare, but it is now a happier, safer place to live. And it is projects like this successful intervention that CAFOD hopes to repeat across Africa and the world, which is why the Harvest appeal is key. Please click here to find out how you can help in your Parish.