CAFOD Essentials Day at a glance: Preparation with smiles

CAFOD Essentials Day, which occurred on Saturday 9th September, 2017, is a day dedicated to preparing CAFOD volunteers for the upcoming Harvest Fast Day and updating the volunteer community about campaigns and other activities. Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern from the US, recounts his experience throughout the day:

Having volunteered for CAFOD for only a few weeks, there is a lot to learn about this vast organization brimming with opportunity for fellow volunteers. From campaigns and social media, to speaking training for Mass, Essentials equipped me with an extended amount of information about what CAFOD is currently working on and how I, and many other volunteers, can get involved.

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Opening speech about CAFOD’s work in Latin America at the commencement of Essentials Day

I spent Essentials Day working as the booth-runner for the Refugee Campaign and as the photographer. The refugee booth caught the attention of many volunteers, most of which had already heard about the campaign and have been at work to spread the message about supporting refugees in their own parishes and even schools. It surprised me at how passionate the volunteers were to advocate for the safety of refugees, which has become a serious crisis in recent years.

Take action to support refugees in your own community

As a photographer, I was able to hover around the various workshops and catch a glimpse of CAFOD’s key focuses. The workshop that most interested me was the training for speaking at Mass led by a professional coach. With Harvest Day approaching, confidence is important in spreading the message, and this workshop bolstered the skills needed to advocate. While in London, I plan on being a speaker for Mass, and the training provided everything from speaking speed to powerful presentation, something that is central to advocating the importance of Fast Day.

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Speaking coach training volunteers on how to effectively deliver the Fast Day message at Mass

Mass training was well in conjunction with the workshop on El Salvador, the focus for CAFOD. This workshop easily received the most amount of attendees, all intent on listening to the struggles of El Salvadorian farmers and youth. 

Get involved with this year’s Harvest Day and support El Salvador

With all the exciting activities happening, Essentials Day was also the perfect opportunity to meet fellow CAFOD volunteers. I ran a photo booth, taking pictures of several volunteers sporting CAFOD gear and props to show their appreciation and commitment for CAFOD’s mission and values.

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One of our volunteers posing for the CAFOD photo booth

The smiles they gave were more than enough to tell me how happy they were to work towards building a better community through CAFOD, a common theme I’ve seen throughout my few weeks as an intern. At the end of the day, that smile was present on my face as I watched several volunteers receive certificates for volunteering for 1, 5, 10, 15, and even 20+ years at CAFOD. This dedication and happiness to serve is something I want to work towards while interning at CAFOD, and Essentials Day was, essentially, exactly what I needed to reach that goal.