Despite the heavy rain on Saturday, CAFOD campaigners from around the North West and further afield travelled to Loreto College in Manchester to be updated on CAFOD’s climate and energy campaign. Those who attended also had the opportunity to listen to Takura Gwatinyanya, from CAFOD partner Caritas Harare, who shared his experiences of how communities in Zimbabwe are struggling to manage the effects of climate change.
The campaign day began with a short opening liturgy taken from “Daily Prayers in the Celtic Tradition”. During this liturgy those assembled remembered the gifts the Lord has given us by bringing forward water (to cleanse and refresh), bread (to nourish and sustain) and seeds (to sow in us a thirst for deeper meaning) to place around the lit candle at the front of the meeting room.
Following the opening liturgy Maria Elena Arana, CAFOD Campaign Coordinator, lead a theology session covering the main aspects of “Laudato Si” and how this papal encyclical is intimately connected to CAFOD’s “One Climate, One World” campaign and the Year of Mercy. For further information and resources on the papal encyclical, campaigns and the Year of Mercy, just click on the previous links.
Takura Gwatinyanya from Caritas Harare then gave a presentation addressing how CAFOD’s partner in Zimbabwe is helping rural communities cope with the effects of climate change and poor water supplies. Takura shared detailed and uplifting stories of how CAFOD with its partner are improving access to clean water and sanitation in a country where 45% of the rural population have no access to safe water sources and sanitation. Takura highlighted how traditional hand-operated boreholes are often broken or difficult to work for children and old people with water table levels dropping significantly due to decreasing amounts of rainfall. Some of these older boreholes are being replaced by solar powered pumps which can pump water from much deeper sources sometimes around 200 ft below ground. These solar powered pumps and their associated pipework and water tanks are more expensive costing around £10,000. However, these type of boreholes can have truly transformative powers – once barren, dry land, can be irrigated to produce community food gardens, where local women can work instead of spending hours walking to other, often polluted water sources. The excess food produced can be sold in local markets to provide family incomes to help children attend school and obtain healthcare. You can still hear Takura speak live on his experiences in Zimbabwe by registering to tune into a live webinar on Friday 15th July at 1pm:
Before lunch Dan Hale, CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns, gave a campaign session updating everyone on the progress so far of CAFOD’s “One Climate, One World” campaign and how it has formed part of a larger campaign alliance “The Climate Coalition” (the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the world’s poorest communities). Dan talked of the success of the Paris global climate conference (COP21) in December which resulted in a global climate agreement (signed by 195 nations) to limit the global temperature increase to below 2°C. He also informed the campaigners of the upcoming “Week of Action” (8th – 16th October), where as part of The Climate Coalition campaign CAFOD will be asking its supporters to “Speak Up” for the love of God’s creation and our global family (further information and resources can be found by following the “speak up” link). CAFOD is asking us to speak to our MP and call for strong action on climate change and energy access (1-in-5 of our brothers and sisters don’t have access to the energy they need to power schools, clinics, homes and businesses). This energy should be sustainable and reliable, e.g. solar, wind, etc. and available to all. This local lobbying of MPs is a follow up to the big mass lobby of Parliament, which took place last June and was such a success. CAFOD hopes that by organising or joining an event in your local area, you will be joining thousands of others across the UK, all seeking to build a fairer, cleaner world.
After a shared lunch and time to digest the morning’s events, everybody had the chance to attend two campaigning-themed workshops. Attendees were split into two groups and took part in both workshops. One was led by Eamonn O’Brien (CAFOD campaigner and local Bury Councillor) who gave some top tips on working with or lobbying your local MP.
The other was with Dan Hale looking on how to make the most of Social Media when campaigning with CAFOD. Attendees had the chance to get to grips with Twitter and tweet about CAFOD to their local MP.
After the informative workshops everybody had the chance to reflect on the days events and talks and were asked to commit to one action which they will take as a consequence of attending the campaign day. They also had the opportunity to give their feedback. Their action commitments were written on post-its and stuck to the “Power to the People” CAFOD banner.
The day finished with Mass where very serendipitously the Gospel reading for this Sunday was the Good Samaritan. This Gospel message, to care for our neighbour, is very much part of CAFOD’s mission.