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.

 

Fishing for hope – the hope of our future

 Mick Shepherd is a CAFOD Volunteer from St Joseph in Greenwich. He lives near Norwood Lake. He is sharing with us his experience of how fishing is about hope and how hope is at the core of his volunteering. Mick has a more meaningful understanding of the joy of fishing and the hope of the catch. Here is what he says – 

Peter - a local fisherman at Norwood Lake

Peter our local fisherman is always hopeful of a great catch at Norwood Lake. We too should possess an abundance of hope.

‘Norwood Lake is quite near my house, a large lake teeming with fish and wildlife. I walk there most days but have never understood fishing – I see the same men sitting there every day, lines in the water, waiting for a catch. They always throw the fish back so I think, ‘What’s the point? Why spend every afternoon just sitting, waiting? Then yesterday I got it! – it’s about hope, they are sitting there and they are hoping! In fact, they are full of hope renewed with each day’s fishing!

Without hope, we ware all finished: in the morning we wake up hoping it will be fine; we go shopping, hoping to find the   things we need. We hope that the children have a good day at school (the first thing we ask when they get home): later on, we hope they will pass their exams; we arrange a holiday, hoping it will be sunny: we turn on the TV, hoping to see our favourite programme. When hospitalised and needing an operation, we hope it will be successful(we dread hearing ‘It’s hopeless, there’s no hope of recovery’). In prison, the only thing keeping prisoners alive is the hope that they will gain early release for good behaviour – without hope, imprisonment is a death sentence.

Peter - Bringing in the catch

The hope of the catch is symbolic of life’s hope

Once, I brought a pupil (Kriya, 10) to St. Joseph’s; Kriya was a Hindu, keen to learn about Christianity. He joined the children at Thursday mass while I led them in song. Afterwards I took him round the church, showing him the stations of the Cross and the statues. Afterwards he said ‘Mick, I think your religion is very sad’ (indicating Jesus on the Cross) ‘Hinduism is very joyful’.

I explained that the Cross was not the end of the story but its beginning, a symbol of hope, love and forgiveness , the empty Cross and empty tomb the ‘sure hope’ that Christians believed in.

 

Peter the Fisherman

Peter says that this lake is a peaceful sanctuary and so we are encouraged to always be peaceful and hopeful in life.

The work of CAFOD is based on giving people hope in some of the poorest and most deprived areas of the world: the old adage is true, ‘Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day: teach a man how to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime’. And this is precisely the approach adopted by CAFOD, one of giving people the wherewithal and the means to enable them to provide for themselves, their families and their communities. This enabling help gives people new hope, and this is why I continue to support CAFOD and its wonderful work.

The next time I walk round Norwood Lake, I shall have more understanding, not just of fishing but of the ‘sure hope’ we Christians all share’.

For hope – Proverbs 13:12 says ‘… is a desire fulfilled – is a tree of life’. We at CAFOD help our brothers and sisters to achieve their desires, which is like a tree ‘planted by the rivers of waters’. Refreshing waters that makes our desires bloom in the hope of the now and the hope of a better future –  what a catch is hope!

If you wish to volunteer for CAFOD, please take a look at the various roles on our website or call us at the Southwark Volunteer Center 020-8466-9901.

 

It all started with, “Why not?”

Meg, a CAFOD Media Volunteer, shares the story of the newest CAFOD coordinator, Andy Wansbury. Here she tells us how Andy began his journey as a volunteer.

“I used to be a forensic photographer,” Andy recalls. He had been in the Forensic

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A group photo from Lent Fast Day 2016–when it all started for Andy

Science Service for 12 years until 2011. Since then he had been at home, caring for his daughter. And then CAFOD reached out to him. “Eileen Hayes from CAFOD came to speak at the Lent Fast Day 2016 in my parish and asked for volunteers. I thought it was a call for me as I had always been interested in CAFOD work,” he says. He had always wanted to be a parish speaker, so when they finally asked him to be a part of the family, he just thought, “Why not?”


Why volunteer?

Andy began his CAFOD journey by giving talks in school. “Last September, there was a private school in Lewisham who needed a volunteer. I underwent training in the summer,” Andy explains. The training would occur twice a year, for a full day. “And soon I was giving talks for about 20 minutes in schools and parishes, about what CAFOD does and what we are all about.” There are also various volunteering opportunities for other aspiring volunteers who would like to do something else.

Andy had recently become the new volunteer campaign Co-ordinator for the deaneries of Bexley, Greenwich, Gravesend, Bromley and Lewisham. I thought, “My, what huge responsibility this is!” it all seemed so overwhelming. But he patiently explained that his role is mostly to act as a support person. Whenever there is a campaign, he is there to extend a hand if needed, but not necessarily having to be directly involved. “I am still getting the grips of it, ” he admits.  His latest assignment is trying to help with the committee appeal for East Africa. He is also hoping to recruit motivated volunteers to promote CAFOD campaigns in parishes.

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Andy sporting his signature look

Because of his new role, Andy is every where CAFOD takes him. He would show up in his Harley-Davidson, wearing black leather boots, navy trousers, and of course, a CAFOD shirt. He believes in making a first impression, and quite an impression at that. “It makes people remember you. And when they remember you they remember what you say, and the message you’d like to imprint on them.”

 

Discover the latest campaigns here

Many thanks, Andy, for all your fantastic work so far!

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