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.


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

The Power is in Our Hands

Angela is a CAFOD volunteer from Beckenham and she share her how she was inspire by a recent CAFOD and Fairtrade foundation webinar

A couple of months ago I attended an excellent CAFOD/Fairtrade Foundation webinar on “Fair Trade and Climate Change”. The Fairtrade Foundation began work in the 1970s advocating Trade not Aid and that remains its mantra. A lot more products are now traded under the Fairtrade label and there is much wider recognition of the need to pay people fairly (justly) so they cover the costs of their production and can invest in their businesses and feed and sustain their families. We don’t think many of us would disagree with any of this.

Watch the recording of the Fairtrade and the climate webinar

Fairtrade products

The Fairtrade label is one we can all recognise and support. Many Supermarkets offer their products like Aldi, Lidl, the CO-OP, etc. And if you are a Coffee drinker, check out Fairtrade coffee at Greggs on the High Street and at AMT and Puccinos stalls which often feature on railway station concourses. There are of course other sustainable standards around so do read the small print to find out what they offer and to check their quality marks like no child labour, working with supplier chains, their approach to pesticides, how they are moving to lower carbon emissions, etc.

Screen shot from the Fairtrade and Climate Change webinar.

So far so good but the big elephant in the room is Climate Change. Many low-lying countries could soon be under water e.g., parts of Bangladesh growing its rice or in Ivory Coast they are increasingly being forced to grow their coffee crop in more mountainous areas. One way to help is to encourage the growth of climate resilient products which can mean diversifying into other agriculture. In Zambia local CARITAS partners of CAFOD are helping families to invest in a range of organic agriculture items after maize planting became less productive. As they start to grow a greater variety of crops better suited to the local climate and soil conditions, they are finding some act as natural pesticides, removing the need for additional chemical inputs. The trees planted have helped re-forest the land, reduce soil erosion and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Increased crop variety means better nutrition and reduced spending on healthcare, as well as more produce to sell and more money for school fees.

Screen shot from the Fairtrade and climate change webinar.

The Fairtrade Foundation and CAFOD are both campaigning right now in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow. It would be marvellous if Nations could take responsibility for their whole carbon footprint. You can lobby your MP and the UK Government about this and to get your views across.

Find out more about CAFOD and Fairtrade

If you are still not persuaded what about the Bishops of England and Wales’ Pastoral Letter at Pentecost? The Bishops say:

  • “….we cannot leave the healing of our common home and the wellbeing and care of our brothers and sisters in the World merely to a response from industry and governments. ……We all have a part to play, each and everyone of us, in the routines, choices and decisions of our everyday lives and our aspirations for the future”.
Image from the Fairtrade and Climate Change webinar showing campaign where consumers told Sainsburys they were not happy with there own brand tea no longer being Fairtrade.

So individually we can all choose sustainably produced food, think more deeply about the household items we buy, and make decisions about energy and travel, etc. It just takes a bit of thought and time.

We can also band together in our Parishes, Schools and local Communities, with other Churches and Faiths and with our families and friends to have a bigger voice in restoring our common home.

The power really is in our hands. Let us grasp the opportunity to be Stewards of Creation now.

Harvest Family Fast Day 2021

This year, Harvest Family Fast day takes place on Friday 1st October and this year is focused on the climate crisis. The poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are being hit hardest by climate change at the same time as they are suffering from the impact of the pandemic. We would like to invite you to get ready for the event in your parish by coming to one of our Harvest Volunteer Meetings.

When are the meetings?

Saturday 4 September, 10:30am – 12:30pm, South East Region Fast Day Zoom Briefing

Wednesday 8 September, 7pm –8pm, Southwark Fast Day Zoom Briefing

Wednesday 15th September  2.30pm-4pm, Southwark & Westminster Fast Day Zoom Briefing

Thursday 16th September  8pm-9pm, Southwark Fast Day Zoom Briefing

What will happen at the meeting?

You will:

  • Meet with Clare Dixon, CAFOD’s Head of Latin America and hear her experiences working with communities and local experts in the Amazon.
  • Hear Ivanilde’s story and find out how you can share it and the stories of other communities in your parish.
  • Get updates on CAFODs wider work and upcoming events
  • Meet other volunteers, share your experiences and pray together

What is the focus for this Harvest Family Fast Day?

In the Amazon rainforest, our local experts are working with communities like Ivanilde’s (pictured) to replant and restore damaged forest so that they can stay and sustain their home which in turn protects and sustains our climate.

We look forward to welcoming you to one of our meetings!