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

Nature is filled with the words of love

CAFOD campaigner and volunteer, Julie Cox, shares her passionate solidarity with the Yanomami indigenous community in Brazil and how, after meeting Davi and Dario Kopenawa (leaders of the Yanomami community) when they visited CAFOD in February 2020, she has been inspired take on a personal pilgrimage and challenge to fundraise, raise awareness and share the story of this incredible community.

The Terrible Plight of the Yanomami Community in Brazil

Let us take time to stop and breathe a moment…and when you’re ready to reflect:

Welcome to one of the most diverse forests on the planet – envisage the river, the lush foliage, all the sounds, colours, feel the humidity, see the Yanomami living in harmony with their land, the river, the wildlife.  Take as long as you like.

Amazon Rainforest

Let us now awake and consider reality: let’s look at what is actually happening to our earth family members in the Yanomami indigenous community in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.  They are exposed to severe threats of our making – our consumerist lifestyles fuelling much of what is going on there.

Time is running out for the largest indigenous community of Amazonia, numbering 27,000 people, whose ancestral homeland covers over 200 villages in an area of 2.3 million acres on the Brazilian-Venezuelan border.  The Yanomami are true custodians of their Amazon rainforest reservation.  But their future and the future of the magnificent rainforest now hang on a knife-edge.

Both the elders, the Yanomami shamans, the ones with traditional knowledge of medicinal uses of plants etc. and the youngest are most at risk and tragically succumbing to the new Corona virus epidemic.  Rachel Bunyan for Mailonline, 20 November 2020, publicised figures from a report compiled by Yanomami leaders:  “Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the reservation have risen some 260% between August and October – from 335-1,202 cases.  So far, there have been 23 confirmed deaths.”  An estimated 10,000 have been exposed, as it is impossible for the Yanomami community to self-isolate.  They have confined themselves to their individual village compounds, having gone deeper into the forest but the disease is spreading.

In addition malarial cases are rising and contributing further, particularly to child-deaths. 

Medical support including provision of ventilators is non-existent for such marginalised communities – chloroquine which can treat malaria and Covid to some degree, has not been distributed and the Brazilian Government is not doing anything.

No food is available at medical points and this situation causes further spread of the virus.

Mercury poisoning is on the increase due to the proliferation of gold mining activities.

Learn more about Davi Kopenawa and how CAFOD and the Yanomami Indigenous Community work together

Why we are implicated in these tragic circumstances

We create the demand which encourages corrupt multi nationals and governments to plunder the earth, unhindered.  The price of gold has sky-rocketed and there are now 200,000 illegal gold miners in the Yanomami territory –another gold-rush is on, with planes, boats, barges transporting tons of equipment, taking advantage of President Bolsonaro’s complicity.

Davi Kopenawa visiting CAFOD in 2020 and meeting our young supporters

Mines are scarring previously pristine rainforest which has taken thousands of years to develop.

The miners are infiltrating, drinking strong alcohol and forcefully having their way with Yanomami women, so clearly this is exacerbating Covid-19 spread.

The loss of elders is tragic for the future of the Yanomami.  Their oral tradition means that their knowledge dies with them.  Since previous malaria epidemics, the loss of elders has weakened the resilience of the indigenous community as a whole.

Gold mining pollutes river water and the land.  The life-span of the Yanomami people is being further diminished as a result through mercury poisoning.  Also, we can ascertain what this is doing to the food chain – poisons being transferred and concentrated upward towards the top predators like the Jaguar.

Scientists have shown that due to our demand for timber, beef and soya (feed for our livestock and poultry to support our meat industry including the UK), the Amazon biome is reaching a tipping point beyond which it will convert to drier savanna vegetation – this will have a massive impact on global weather patterns since evapotranspiration from the tropical Amazon rainforest canopy generates rainfall as far away as Texas, in the key agricultural area of Midwest US. (R S Butler, 2020)   This means production will suffer, which will have a knock on effect to our food imports.

Check out CAFOD’s website for ideas on how to live more simply and sustainably

How can we stop this disaster unfolding?

Let us remind ourselves,

“Nature is filled with the words of love.” Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ para 225    

We all like to think we love nature – and we do, if we take time to appreciate it in our local surroundings and learn from our mother earth and become aware of global connectivity.  Lessening our impact and living gently upon the earth is our natural and authentically loving response.  This involves a certain amount of sacrifice.

If you would like to support the Yanomami as they fight for their lives – please sign their ‘Miners out Covid out’ campaign:  www.MinersOutCovidOut.org/   

Please watch the video The Shaman’s Message

My Amazon Pilgrimage

My challenge is to cover the 6,400 Km distance of the R. Amazon by 2027, through combined country-walking and swimming.  I’m considering open-water swimming as leisure centres/pools are still closed.  In addition I’m raising funds from crafting hats, headbands and scarfs.

I invite you to look at my JustGiving Fundraising page.

Please be assured that all your donations will go directly to the Hutukara Yanomami Association, led by Davi Kopenawa, himself.  CAFOD will send the initial target sum as soon as it’s raised.  Fundraising will continue for the duration of my virtual pilgrimage challenge of the length of the Amazon. I very much hope to encourage others to begin their own fund-raising initiatives – our Earth cries out as do the Best Keepers of the Earth, our indigenous peoples of the rainforest.

Let’s take time to hear the cry of the Yanomami, of future generations and that of the Earth.  Lets, together, do whatever we can in order to help ensure their future survival.

My sincere thanks to all supporters.  We can make a difference, together with CAFOD’s fantastic encouragement and outreach support.

A Busy Christmas Ahead For Parish Volunteer Thomas

Thomas Kimaru, Parish and office volunteer gives a glimpse into life as a parcel delivery driver and reflects on the gifts from God.

I have been having a good British moan about the bitterly cold weather, rain, and long hour I put in as I do my delivery job to about 80 to 110 customers every day. Ironically, these parcels are gifts, essentials, medical supplies, food, and absurd purchases.

Some of my customers are happily working at home, others have lost their jobs, a few are screaming at my “poor” service due to emotional breakdowns. Most however emphasize about the weather and long hours and are appreciative that I am keeping their households and businesses alive and working in exceptional circumstances. I get a lot of pleasure to see a satisfied customer get their parcel and smile with their eyes knowing what that delivery will accomplish in that household or company.

thomas Kimaru -office volunteer -March 2020
Thomas Kimaru

Looking to buy a special gift?  CAFOD’s range of World Gifts will delight your friends and family, but are also a great way of rediscovering what it really means to share the love, peace and joy of Christmas.

So as I was planning the things to buy for my wife and family and remembered (from my diary) that I am due for confession every three months. So that you may know, Pope Francis goes to confession every two weeks but hey, I am just a normal well behaved delivery guy driving at 20mph.

It occurred to me that I cannot attend the Sacrament of Penance at confession because we cannot go to Church due to covid 19 restrictions. I remembered  my parish Priest Fr Gregory ,in persona Christi, said that a job or the ability to attend a course for self development is a gift from God! I did not have a job then for about 12 months and Jesus told me a job is a gift from Him.

Browse CAFOD’s collection of Christmas prayers to uplift and inspire

I had gone to confession because I was angry and impatient that though Jesus had heard my earnest prayer, fasting, prayer from friends, and some family members, He was not answering! Now I have a job and I can pay my bills, contribute in Church, buy food for the homeless  and even buy gifts for my wife, family, relatives and silly friends.

For Christmas I will be delivering parcels and looking at my job, food, clothing, shelter, health, family, faith, parish community, good and bad customers, delivery van, uniform, horrible weather, absence of war, tap water, soap, etc. These are all gifts from Jesus. Who am I to look at a gift  horse in the mouth especially if it has been given to me by my creator? Do you moan about what you have, what you don’t have, what you wish you have or all the above choices, a,b, and c?

Somewhere in the New Testament the Apostle Paul says, what can I boast about that I have not freely received from God?

What can you boast of that you have not freely received?  

Please go to confession as I hope to after Church opens and thank God for ALL His gifts including the horrible British weather.

Stay safe and may God bless you

Thomas Kimaru

Parish Volunteer English Martyrs Church

Take a look at the 2020 online Advent calendar for families has a daily reflection and free activity for you and your children in preparation for Christmas.