Lizzie is one of our Step Into The Gap volunteers based at Just Youth in Salford and has recently returned from her overseas visit to Cambodia.
Nearly two months after we returned from visiting CAFOD partners in Cambodia, there have been so many opportunities to share our experiences. We met with some of the most inspiring people, both partner staff and community members, whose stories it is a privilege to share with CAFOD supporters back here in England and Wales.
Once we had returned, the whole Step into the Gap team met together for a weekend of reflection, both individually, in our travel teams and as a whole group. One of the
things I took most from this was the idea of not just meeting people, but sharing an encounter with them. The idea of having a deeper connection with others is something that we held at the heart of our time in Cambodia; sharing an encounter with everyone I meet back in the UK is something I wish to continue as it forms a relationship between two strangers in a way that a simple conversation doesn’t.
Already, I have spoken at Mass for Lent Fast Day, done sessions with Key Stage 3 children in a local high school and been able to share with the students and teachers at my chaplaincy school. One of the best parts of sharing my experience with others is that all of these people have different experiences of CAFOD and a different view of the world. Everyone I have shared an encounter with has responded in an individual yet incredible way.
For Lent Fast Day, I spoke at my local parish here in Salford. It was such an honour to be able to share my experiences with my parish, who have supported and prayed for me both before and during my trip. They responded so warmly, giving great feedback and asking questions. The week after, I was handed an anonymous donation as I arrived at Mass, from someone who had been inspired to support CAFOD after hearing my experiences.
I was also humbled to be invited into Loreto High School, alongside Sophie who would share her experiences of Ethiopia. We spent the morning in year 7, 8 and 9 classes, sharing the stories of those we met and answering all the questions we could fit in! It was so exciting to see the interest and passion the young people had, wanting to know as much as they could and asking for ways they could get involved. We then spent time over lunch with their Justice and Peace Group, who asked us about the things that were most needed in the communities we visited. From this, they chose where they would spend the money the school would be raising during Lent, looking through the World Gift catalogue and having their say on what they wanted to buy.
Sharing about the trip has been just as an incredible opportunity as experiencing it all was! To be able to share the work CAFOD and its partners are doing with those who support CAFOD so generously has given a real meaning to the remainder of my time as a gapper, and I cannot wait to share such encounters with more people over the next few months.