Acclaimed Electronic Duo Inspire Greenwich Students to Act on Climate Change

By CAFOD – Southwark Office

Thanks to Hal St. John and Cherrie Anderson, founders of the electronic band ‘Ooberfuse’ from Woolwich, students from St. Ursula’s Convent School in Greenwich had a musical workshop on renewable energy.


Students showcasing their lyrics

The critically acclaimed duo visited the school on Monday 10th July, giving students the opportunity to learn about CAFOD’s latest Power To be campaign and the significance of renewable energy for the world’s poorest communities. The students wrote their own lyrics, inspired by the campaign, and even had the chance to sing and showcase their work with Ooberfuse. The school hall may have been a contrast to the band’s latest venues, the Ministry of Sound and the O2, but everyone had a fantastic time.

Both Hal and Cherrie were really pleased with how successful the day was. Hal was especially impressed by the lyrics written by the students. “It is always a tall order to make scientific problems attractive to a young audience, as usually their minds are anywhere else. But it helped that we focused it around things that they already knew about.  The real test was when they were writing their own lyrics but when they read them back and they were such powerful lyrics, it was great to see.”


Learning about ‘Power To Be’

Ooberfuse was formed in 2010, and within just a few years their quirky and upbeat songs have been praised by many, including Boy George, The Guardian and BBC 6’s Tom Robinson. Their music has since taken them all over the world from Madrid, where they played for two million young Catholics on World Youth Day, to Iraq, where they played at a refugee camp in Erbil. Both social justice and inequality are strong themes within their music. They are also soon to release a song about the plight of refugees. Whilst promoting social justice and their Catholic faith through music, the Ooberfuse was motivated to get involved with CAFOD’s work, and run a workshop for the students at St. Ursula’s Convent School.

Cherrie was originally from the Philippines where Typhoon Haiyan struck in 2013. “Climate change was just an idea but when Typhoon Haiyan hit my hometown it became so real. That is when we decided to devote our music to social justice and raising awareness about important issues.  After the typhoon CAFOD  were one of the first aid agencies on the ground responding to the need, so it’s great to be involved with them now.”


‘Power To Be’ display, created by students 

Through our Power To Be campaign, communities have been encouraged to lobby the World Bank to invest more in local renewable energy. Despite the fight to reduce worldwide poverty, only less than 3% of their expenditures go towards renewable energy. Through our campaign, we are asking the UK’s representative at the World Bank, Melanie Robinson, to use her influence to ensure that children everywhere have the power to achieve great things and lift themselves out of poverty, without harming the planet.

Our message is reaching many people, and thanks to a fun-packed day, students were made aware of our responsibility to be stewards for our planet. “People in places like Kenya are suffering because they do not have access to electricity. Around the world, one in six people don’t have electricity; that’s equal to 1.2 billion people and we should do something about it.” (Saumu, Year 8).

School Chaplain, Susan Elderfield, was also inspired by the duo’s message, “I don’t think we should forget the message of today; how we should look after the planet. Each one of us has a responsibility – from switching off the lights to getting involved with NGOs to becoming politicians. It’s our planet and our job to look after it.”

To engage in our Power To Be campaign, you can sign our petition online, order action cards at our shop to sign within your parish, or organise a Power To Be Liturgy to continue to raise awareness, pray and spread the message.


How the young show their love for our Common Good

Meg, a CAFOD Southwark Media Volunteer, recently enjoyed two wonderful examples in the Diocese of Southwark how the young showed their love for our Common Good as they heard about Climate Change and CAFOD’s Share a Green Heart Campaign.

Comments from Meg:


One of the young participants in Eileen’s liturgy, proudly presenting her heart art.

It’s always interesting to see how the young perceive our planet.

As part of CAFOD’s Share a green heart campaign last St. Valentine’s Day, children shared what the world meant to them.

The catechists, from Christ Church, held a liturgy for the children on Sunday, 19 February. During mass, about 40 children, ranging in age from three to five years, sang (complete with hand gestures) the song “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

They were also read the creation story. When asked what they loved about the world, the children were quick with their answers: Butterflies! Sharks! Stars! Even the parents seemed equally excited to see so much youthful enthusiasm. It was the first time the catechists, led by Eileen, held a liturgical campaign for the children.

“It was really good,” recalls Eileen. “They were really engaged. The world seemed very real to them. I was glad I was able to use my CAFOD resources to explain about Laudato Si to them and to their parents.”

The children also received some stickers from their arts and crafts activity, which they were more than happy to take home with them.


Children who came to Marine’s house

At a second memorable event, says Meg, CAFOD supporter Marine in London Bridge took a more personal approach.

She invited Borough mothers and their children into her home, where she’d set up arts and crafts, and then just chatted with them.

Marine asked the children what they liked about the environment?

 “I like to play football in the grass,” said one boy while one little girl described her appreciation by making a bird out of clay. The children then drew, took pictures and made felt green hearts.

At the end of their two-hour activity, they took home the fruits of their labour, along with the green heart stickers.

Marine said : “I was really happy to promote CAFOD and start a conversation with Borough mothers and their children.”

 “It’s always a delight when young individuals participate in these campaigns”, says Meg. “After all it’s the children who will benefit most from a better and greener world. “May we all work together to make sure the butterflies and birds and sharks stay alive for our Common Home”.


Sign our petition for climate change


Living Simply in Rochester

The Livesimply Group at St. John Fisher parish in Rochester have been sharing with us some of the wonderful things they have been doing to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor.  Julie Cox, who started the group writes:

Pictured right to left - Julie Cox, Michael Brown (a fellow CAFOD Volunteer and live simply group member) with Sarah Cadwallader (CAFOD Diocesan Officer).

Pictured right to left – Julie Cox, Michael Brown (a fellow CAFOD Volunteer and livesimply group member) and Sarah Cadwallader (CAFOD Diocesan Officer).

I remember, as a youngster, lying in the back-garden, absorbed in watching the changing shapes of cumulus clouds as they gently moved across the big blue sky;   I was inspired by the artistic detail of Gordon Beningfield’s bird illustrations on note-book covers; I enjoyed school geography lessons that described the adaptations of animals in the different bioregions of the world.  With my research background in physical geography and landscape-ecology, I gained a particular appreciation of the amazing diversity and interconnectedness in nature.

But in 2011, in the JPIC Commission’s Spring Assembly, when the LiveSimply Parish Award Scheme was launched by CAFOD, I heard

Fr. Sean McDonagh SSC speak passionately about the integrity of Creation and the impacts of climate change.  A seed was sown and I continued to attend subsequent livesimply meetings, focusing more specifically on the connection between our Christian faith and human-ecology, attending several workshops and retreats on a Creation theme.

During one of these meetings I had the good fortune to meet a Franciscan Sister, Sr. Annette Tangwa TSSF from Cameroon.  We became close friends and together we felt inspired to start a linked project which would combine empowering disadvantaged children at St Francis College secondary school, Shisong, Kumbo, Bamenda with our passion to restore Creation.

I set about inviting parishioners to form a livesimply core-group.  We began with seven and have since expanded to twelve.  I introduced the group to CAFOD’s livesimply parish award , sharing the pack’s resources, in particular the 100 Live Simply ideas sheet and the ‘Taking Livesimply Home’ module.  In April 2014 our livesimply project was launched at parish level.  The project has now generated a life of its own, bringing a greater sense of togetherness within the parish community. The core-group continues to meet on a regular basis and produces meeting minutes, advertises forthcoming events on the parish notice board and in the newsletter.  Photographs and communications from Sr. Annette are displayed in the church-porch.


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The elements of our Livesimply parish project are as follows:

Charity at Home (Living in Solidarity):  We support the Medway Food Bank; we take care of the church grounds including gardening and keeping it clear of litter.  Loose curb stones were installed in the car park area and shrubs planted along the front wall.  We also take care of our meditation garden.

Charity overseas (Living in Solidarity):  We support the most disadvantaged school-children at Sr. Annette’s St Francis College secondary school, Shisong, Cameroon through our Sunday coffee and tea sales, through direct donations to our livesimply treasurer’s bank account and through parish events, described below:

Parish Events (Living in Solidarity): Fund-raising ‘Bring and Share’ parish lunches and competitions for Cameroon. These lunches normally include a raffle, plant and craft-stalls including home-made pottery pieces and one of our artist’s religious cards, home-baked cakes and preserves, a free-cycle table and a craft corner for kids.  Competitions, with prizes awarded at these parish lunches have so far included a ‘Merry Berry bake-off’ using berries foraged locally and a potato-growing competition.

We hold regular parish walks in the local countryside and within the green-space areas of the Medway towns. More recently we have started up a Traidcraft stall.  The core group are now looking to parishioners for assistance with such events to enable them to be held on a more frequent basis.

Environmental (Living Sustainably):  We have group litter-picks in our local greenspace, Watts Meadow liaising with the Medway Urban Parks and Green Spaces (MUPGS) ranger.  We collect general and recycleable waste, reporting the number of sacks and volunteer hours to MUPGS team.  We enjoy coffee and cake afterwards at our Chairman’s home.

We’ve also linked up with St William of Perth primary school, in our parish and invite their gardening club children (18 children aged 8-11 years) for seasonal nature visits to Watts Meadow.  Activities have included making bird-cake, building a bug-hotel (article in Spring 2015 issue of Kent Wildlife Trust’s ‘Wild Kent’ magazine), a summer nature-trail quiz, autumn fruits and berries, spotting early signs of spring and general observation walks including an introduction to nature-journaling and foraging for food.

Simpler Lifestyles (Taking Live Simply Home):  livesimply tips are posted in our newsletter which focus on practical ways of minimising our carbon footprint and encouraging a Franciscan perspective so as to live in greater harmony with God’s Creation.

We have all found that the livesimply project has brought new meaning and focus to parish-life.  Events and initiatives are continuing to develop and expand in ways that we could not have imagined when we first started out on our ‘livesimply adventure’.

Get some tips on how you can play your part in caring for the environment >>