Growing Spiritually

Woman standing outside
Melani, 17, CAFOD Office Volunteer

Hello Everyone, 

It has been my third time here volunteering for CAFOD Southwark and let me tell you, Southwark diocese has been so welcoming and so heart-warming these past couple of days. You’re probably wondering who I am…  

Well let me introduce myself, 

My name is Melani and I am 17 years old, a current sixth former studying Physics, Spanish and Textiles. Some of my interest would be painting, styling clothes and visiting new places like famous landmarks or different countries and finding out more about the history behind it. I consider myself as a very creative person and love getting myself involved with as many things as I can. I am not afraid to try out new things and learn from my mistakes. 

Interested in Volunteering Opportunities? Find out more

Marble Side Building
Red gallery picture

Some Creative things I’ve done so far have been attending a fashion summer school where I was able to start making a garment, based on a protest theme that interested me. I decided to focus it on Women’s bodies (body expectations/ body shaming). During the summer I’ve been visiting as many places in London that are aesthetically pleasing but also historical for my textiles project where I am investigating interior/exterior buildings or places.

Why CAFOD? 

From a young age I always heard about CAFOD and the many ways of getting involved with them, whether it be donating money to them using small money boxes or getting involved in a fundraiser. 

Interested in donating to CAFOD? Donate online

When my school gave me a chance to volunteer. I immediately knew that CAFOD was where I wanted to be this summer. The reason I chose CAFOD was because since the 1960s they have always helped people in great poverty, no matter their skin colour, beliefs or background. I feel like especially today where the pandemic has hit everyone, across the world very hard, CAFOD is still out there helping as many people and families as they can. This is why this summer I would like to help out at CAFOD and know that through a big or small way I have helped a family or person in poverty.  

What have you enjoyed at CAFOD?

So far, I have enjoyed my volunteering experience and learnt how to use knew software. CAFOD staff overall have been so welcoming and gave me a tour of the building where I got to learn new facts about how they made sure the building was ecofriendly. I have been helping out with harvest day focusing on the theme of climate change where our aim is to raise money to help communities like Ivanilde’s, who is a woman from Brazil and has had people burning her crops and the amazon rainforest too.  

Find our more about Harvest Fast Day and Ivanilde’s Story here.

Poster on climate change

From these past couple of days, I have decided that I would like to continue volunteering and hopefully make a difference not only physically but grow spiritually too. 

Inspired by Melani’s Story? Sign up to volunteer

Connecting with Faith and Creativity through CAFOD

Jessica uses her wonderful creative skills to inspire others and share CAFOD’s work.

Meet Jessica Garcia, one of our fantastic social media volunteers, living in London. She shares how working with CAFOD has reminded her that change for good is always possible, and how volunteering has allowed her creative juices to flow and reconnect her to her Catholic faith.

Hi Jessica. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Jessica Garcia and I’m from Spain. I’m 28 years old. I am currently a freelance journalist and creative and work in a restaurant. I’ve just finished my studies in development at Westminster University in London.

How have you been involved with CAFOD?

Due to my studies and professional background, I have been helping CAFOD on social media platforms, especially on Twitter.

What first attracted you to CAFOD?

I would say two things combined together. First, CAFOD represents my faith and secondly, I studied development so my aim was to work with an organisation dedicated to global development. However, the fact of Catholic faith was very important for me, as I am not doing it in a professional way, but in a personal/spiritual way too.

What’s been the best thing about volunteering for CAFOD?

I was able to reconnect with my faith, as well as using my skills and creativity to spread CAFOD’s work and goals. The fact that I am free (within the norms) to use different pictures, videos, gifs, etc. it makes it more refreshing, as we need to attract more youth to keep our work going on, until we can eradicate the injustices other communities suffer.

What are some of your best memories?

I would say that coming from an African and Spanish background, all the online talks about South America or Africa were really refreshing to me. I have learned a lot from people working in country offices, and also with partners that work with CAFOD.

We want to thank you for the tremendous contribution you have made to CAFOD’s work.

The pleasure is mine. CAFOD has helped me to regain that empathy that seemed lost because of how the world works nowadays. It was important for me to remember my Catholic values and to never give up on humanity. There are great souls around us. However, TV and social media has made us believe the human race is evil. So a lot of people like me, ended up thinking nothing would get better. CAFOD was a key element to remind me change is possible and the light always shines.

​​​​​​​Thank you CAFOD, and the amazing people in the Southwark Team that guided me everyday Marine, Sarah and Celeste

Did you enjoy knowing more about Jessica and her volunteering role?

Meet more of our Volunteers and find out about all our volunteering opportunities.

Pray with us for Peru

Sophia White is a student part of Step Into the Gap programme in CAFOD. She is sharing with us what she has discovered while at CAFOD and raising our awareness on issues affecting Peru.  

Peru’s Vulnerabilities

In my more unreasonable and self-absorbed moments during lockdown, I have found it helpful to think back on the call with CAFOD’s Peru Programme Officer. During 2020, four different Presidents and four different Prime Ministers were in office, and children were only allowed outside for thirty minutes per day. These facts give some perspective about the relative freedom and stability we have here in the UK, while, unfortunately, also highlighting how insular our media proves us to be. 

Peru faces climate change and a lack of clean water

Peru is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the world. With its position on the San Andreas Fault and the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is also one of the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters.

Find out more about effects of Climate Change on Peru

How Can Our Church Help ? 

Recently, I had an argument with a friend about the environment. “Why do so many Christians not seem to care about the environment?” I asked. “Why do so many environmentalists not seem to care about people?” was her reply, and is one which I have seen repeated in various publications. 

Help us join environmental defenders to protect Peru

Concern for the environment is very much intertwined with caring about people. This surely comes as no surprise to you, dear reader of a CAFOD blog, but it can’t really be stated enough. We must listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and in learning more about CAFOD’s work, I find it increasingly difficult to see how we can listen to one without the other, or love God without caring for creation. Now back to Peru.

Find out how CAFOD is supporting Peru

Melting Glaciers and High Deforestation

Peru is heavily reliant on glaciers for its water supply for drinking, crops, livestock, and for generating energy. With melting glaciers, water supplies are predicted to drop significantly over the next twenty years, which will have a huge bearing on life in Peru over this time. 

Melting glaciers leading to rising water levels in Peru

Since 1968 there has been large-scale urbanisation in Peru which has led to significant environmental as well as demographic changes. 20-25% of Peru’s population live in poverty, and, before the pandemic, around 70% of people work in informal employment. This means that people live on what they earn on a daily basis, with very little savings. Woman are less likely to have access to higher educational and stable employment opportunities than men.  This has now risen to around 80%.  

60% of Peru is in the Amazon, which, like is the case in Brazil, is facing high levels of deforestation. One of the most important industry’s for Peru’s economy is mining. This is also often responsible for widespread social and environmental damage, particularly water pollution, and other health problems which can affect local communities. Those who speak out against the negative effects of the industry and campaign to protect the environment and protect their human rights often face threats, and in some cases have been killed. 

Help us make a change in Peru

What We Can Do

CAFOD’s partners work to help people defend their rights, and empower them to be active members of their communities and neighbourhoods. 

In indigenous anthropology, we are the earth and the earth is us. Our own Christian and western anthropologies may beg to differ, but I have found that there is a lot of wisdom in this and have found myself more regularly pondering on and praying about it. 

We invite you to watch a video about one of our partner’s projects in Peru and pray with us to make a difference.

Pray with us for Peru with our St Martin de Porres prayer card

Our Partner’s Projects in Peru