From the U.S. to London: my experience as a CAFOD intern

Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern, is a university student from the United States. He has been working for CAFOD for nearly a semester, after which he will return to the US. He describes his experience working for CAFOD.

As a university student from the United States, I made the decision to undertake an internship in London to work as a Parish Events Coordinator for CAFOD. I was ecstatic after accepting the job because I figured it would provide me with a great opportunity to connect with local parishes while in London. In fact, CAFOD gave me just that, and so much more.

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Sidney Magdaong discovering some of London’s featured landmarks

Though I was still adjusting to the urban London environment, CAFOD had me start right away after I arrived. I was a little nervous on my first day (especially since it was my first time using public transport by myself), but the staff and administration were hospitable beyond my expectations. In fact, they helped smooth the transition of adapting to London life.

 

One of the greatest things I gained from working in CAFOD is the expansion of my communication skills and the exposure to several new tasks. I began working as a social media intern, travelling between the headquarters in Shortlands and the offices in Romero House. I learned how to write my first blog as well as how to use Twitter to promote CAFOD events. It took a day or two to get used to, but soon I became proficient in blog-writing and I was able to send out a weekly blog in addition to several Tweets per week. After that, I gained enough experience to handle CAFOD’s monthly e-bulletin.

The majority of my writing and office work centred around Harvest Day, one of CAFOD’s biggest fundraisers. I wrote most of my blogs and Tweets about Fast Day, and I aided in coordinating Mass speakers in different parishes. Sometimes my promotion of Fast Day was in the form of ringing parish priests by asking. After Fast Day, my work shifted to data management involving money donations received from each parish.

Overall, I cannot express how honoured I am to have been a part of CAFOD. In addition to strengthening my communication and networking abilities, I learned so much about global crises and how CAFOD and its partners are responding to these emergencies. In turn, I learned how Catholic Social Teaching can play a tremendous, applicable role in the world and in the local community. As a Christian, I can say that CAFOD has well-informed me of my duties to make a difference, and CAFOD has been an outlet that has allowed me to accomplish just that. Though I will be leaving after this semester, I hope that my role can be passed on to someone who shares the passions that I have encountered here at CAFOD.

That being said, we are looking for 2 office volunteers to undertake this special role. We would like one permanent volunteer who could come to the office once a week  and another short term volunteer who can help out one or two times a week during January and February to focus on the Lent Fast Day Campaign, which will involve working with the data base, making phone calls, and aiding in social media promotion. If you are interested, please contact Southwark Volunteer Centre or call us on 020 8466 9901.

 

Organising Your Own Soup Lunch for Harvest Fast Day

6 October 2017 marks this year’s Harvest Fast Day, which serves to generate funds to support our partners in El Salvador to fight injustices there. Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern, describes how you can get involved by making your own soup lunch.

With Harvest Day approach quickly, many of our volunteers are hard at work as ever to make this Fast Day a successful one. A successful Fast Day derives from successful fundraising, and CAFOD provides several fundraising resources to kick-start the process. One of the best ways you can get involved in the effort is by organising your own soup lunch.

Discover more ways you can volunteer for this year’s Fast Day

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CAFOD staff and volunteers enjoying their own soup lunch

How do I get started? Organising a soup lunch always starts with a plan: first, you will need a team who can help. you can ask your friends and family to help buy ingredients and cook a variety of soups (make sure that the cooks abide by food safety guidelines, and ensure that all soups are labelled clearly for those with allergies!). To save on costs, ask your local supermarket or bakery if they would be willing to donate any supplies that can help out. Working alongside your community goes a long way, and it brings people together in the process.

Check out our how-to guide, which summarizes how you can get started

Second, the venue must be decided.  Soup lunches can be done at your own home, as long as there is enough room for everyone to fit! If you decide to host the soup lunch at your school or your parish, make sure you ask for permission beforehand, and if they can provide you with the necessary catering services.

After that, you’re almost set! The only thing left to do is to spread the word about your event. CAFOD has advertising resources that can help make your soup lunch a successful one. Put up posters around your community, invite your friends and family, etc.; anything it takes to get people involved. Donations from your soup lunch can then be sent to CAFOD, which will tremendously fuel our efforts to support our partners in El Salvador.

Learn more about the message that CAFOD is sending to farmers in El Salvador

Thus, the most important thing to keep in mind is the mission that you are serving.

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Martir, an El Salvadorian farmer and partner to CAFOD, holding his crop

Sharing a soup lunch with your community resembles the community that CAFOD is striving to provide for the many El Salvadorian farmers who are struggling to yield fruitful harvests. Through the giving of yourself and of your community, you are planting new, fresh seeds for farmers in El Salvador, thus reaping crops that will provide a better life and stronger hope for them.

The Centenary of the Birth of Romero: continuing his legacy via volunteers

On Saturday 23 September, the Centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero was commemorated at Westminster Abbey in Evensong. Alongside CAFOD, the event was co-sponsored by Archbishop Romero Trust, Churches Together in England, and Christian Aid. Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern, recaps the account of CAFOD volunteer Brendan Gately, who received a certificate during the event in honour of his volunteering.

As a representation of Blessed Oscar Romero’s work today, CAFOD volunteers strive towards the justice that Romero set forth for the community, particularly in El Salvador, which is the focus for this year’s Harvest Fast Day. During the Centenary of Oscar Romero’s birth on 23 September, Brendan Gately, a dedicated CAFOD volunteer, received a certificate for his volunteering and involvement over several years of campaigning and fundraising for CAFOD.

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Brendan Gately receiving his volunteering certificate from Megan Knowles, a CAFOD trustee.

Brendan began volunteering for CAFOD in 1998 when he and his church helped organize their own Jubilee campaign, which raised £4,000 towards the campaign. Since then, he has become a strong supporter for CAFOD by voicing his support of Oscar Romero through fundraising and campaign work. “It’s wonderful to see CAFOD as support for Romero,” said Brendan. “[With] financing the radio station [in El Salvador], which was destroyed by the military, it was replaced using CAFOD funds.”

Brendan says that he has not had a specific role, but rather has been involved in widespread activities for CAFOD. “CAFOD is one element, but an important element. It is [also] important that we are getting  involved with the dialogue,” said Brendan. Like Romero, Brendan is another example of voicing his support against not one, but many injustices in the world, through which CAFOD is striving to appease.

Blessed Oscar Romero remains today a continuous inspiration and foundation for the ideals and goals of CAFOD. The Centenary of his birth acts as a reminder to all our volunteers and partners of the works of justice that Romero spent his life working towards, as well as the rewards that are reaped with a single voice; Brendan’s contribution to CAFOD is no exception. As Brendan concluded, “[CAFOD] is something I really enjoy. I feel like you get more out of it than what you put in.”