On Saturday 13 July the five NW CAFOD Diocesan teams (CAFOD Salford, Shrewsbury, Lancaster, Liverpool & North Wales) held a fantastic Conference at St Patrick’s Church, Collyhurst, in Manchester on how CAFOD’s international work has changed since it was established by the Bishops’ Conference in 1962 and how CAFOD works with partners across the world.
120 people heard Geoff O’Donoghue, Director of CAFOD’s International Division give the keynote address. Geoff showed how CAFOD had changed from its early days of the startling success of a group of lay women raising £6,000 to help other mothers feed their children in the Dominican Republic into an organisation which supports trusted local partners’ projects in over 30 countries across four continents. These are designed with local people and provide sustainable solutions to long-term problems in ways which suit local circumstances. Geoff highlighted this as CAFOD’s approach to working with our partners. Later we heard this in action from Telley from the newest country of South Sudan and George Were from Sudan talking of CAFOD’s work based in Juba and Khartoum working through fellow Caritas organisations to meet some of the needs in the country amidst unrest and disadvantage.
The delegates attended workshops on Humanitarian Emergencies work, HIV/AIDS, Latin America and Sierra Leone. Mike Noyes, Head of CAFOD’s Humanitarian response, gave real insights into how we respond to disasters and leave communities more resilient to face future challenges. This was illustrated in his account of our response in Haiti, one of the poorest and most divided countries on earth, to the catastrophic earthquake of 2010.
Jane Lennon, CAFOD’s HIV/AIDS Coordinator, spoke of how the Church delivers 25% of HIV/AIDS support work across the world and in this CAFOD’s work enables people who are devastated by illness themselves and have lost family members and battle against stigma to build a new life. People go on to support their families with new skills and small businesses so they can feed their families and send them to school. We also campaign to reduce stigma in local communities.
Iona Dalglish-Reid and Sarah Crutch, two young women on CAFOD’s “Step into the Gap” Programme, spoke of their Gap Year visit to Sierra Leone with CAFOD’s partners. As some of our young leaders they also spoke of the impact their visit is having as they communicate it to others back in the UK.
Karen Lucykx, who manages CAFOD’s work in the Andes region of Latin America, spoke of CAFOD’s campaigning work supporting people in poverty in their struggle for rights against mining companies and the destruction of their livelihoods.
The conference aimed to give people a deeper and broader understanding of our work so we could better communicate CAFOD’s work to others in their respective dioceses. It closed as it began with a prayerful reflection and with details of the “Hungry for Change” Campaign and the need to campaign and raise money to change the world food system so that all have enough to eat.
Ged Edwards (CAFOD Salford Diocesan Manager) said: “It was a fantastic day for all CAFOD supporters to discover more detail of how CAFOD works. If you would like further details of the workshops or of CAFOD’s work generally, you can download the presentations soon here or contact your local CAFOD Diocesan office on 0161 705 0605.”