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.


From the Philippines to Tooting

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The Catholic church was one of the first responders when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013 and Caritas Philippines responded by providing emergency supplies to over 275,000 people. They are now helping the people to rebuild their homes and their lives.

On Sunday 18 May Fr Edwin (Edu) Gariguez, Executive Secretary, and Neal Deles, Capacity Building Adviser, for Caritas Philippines,visited St Boniface Parish in Tooting to say thank you for the support the parish, and others across England and Wales, have given to the Philippines through CAFOD following Typhoon Haiyan. Parish Contact Peter Gilroy writes about what the visit meant to him and his parish:

As expected the weather at the weekend was brilliant sunshine and the atmosphere around St. Boniface church on Sunday 18 May was buzzing.


I met fellow CAFOD volunteer and member of the Filipino community Victor Ora and his lovely family at 10am and we all donned our CAFOD t-shirts and began setting up for a party in the garden next to the presbytery. Fr. Tom had kindly cut the grass for us the previous evening getting the hay fever season off to sneezing start!


Fr Edu, Neal and Lucy (CAFOD Emergency Programme Manager) arrived in the sunshine and warm welcome greetings were shared.  Fr. Tom also gave a very special welcome to Fr. Edu and showed him around the sacristy. We weren’t expecting this but Fr. Edu was willing and able to concelebrate both at 10.30 and 12 noon Mass.


The Masses spilled out onto the streets of Tooting and many Parishioners wanted to say hello to Fr. Edu and thank him for his kind words of thank you from the pulpit and wish him well for the near future.


Outside the church and during the Masses friends and family of our amazing Philippine brothers and sisters were arriving every 10minutes bringing stacks of aromatic delights for the welcome celebration and filling the tables. After 12 noon Mass all the congregation were invited to the party. After all if the Queen can have a garden party why can’t we?!


A lovely time was had by all, we managed to ‘feed the 5000’, many new friendships were made and Fr. Edu and his friends left to continue their journey back to the Philippines knowing that the Parish of St. Boniface hold them in their hearts.


Thank you Fr. Edu for visiting our Parish, thank you Eileen and CAFOD for thinking of us, thank you Fr. Tom for being so supportive and enthusiastic, and of course a super huge thank you to Victor and family, Lelei, Carina and all your close friends and family (too many to mention here!) for a wonderful and memorable day.