As 80,000 people left Hyde Park having gathered to see Pope Benedict one thing could be said with certainty – the crowd was united under one banner, one message and a shared solidarity – that of peace. Numerous messages of peace and solidarity had been expressed, from that of Jimmy Mizen‘s family, to the need for action to help those being persecuted in Burma and the Pope’s profound belief in the generation of young people gathered before him. However, nowhere was this shared solidarity more evident than from the words of Monsignor John Armitage, from Custom House, calling everyone to stand up against poverty and to send a message to world leaders gathered in New York last week at the UN to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals. Photos of this moment were presented to the UN as sign of the shared commitment of people from around the world to act on poverty in the hope that world leaders would commit to meeting the MDG’s by 2015.
As I walked on stage with the CAFOD banner to see 80, 000 people before me, it would have been easy to feel daunted by the sheer scale of the event, and become overwhelmed by what can often seem at times like the most impossible task – the task of helping those less fortunate across the globe. However, I was left with a renewed belief in the ability of people coming together to make a difference. Not only did the message of shared solidarity reaffirm my passion to help those less fortunate but reminded me that we must not forget our brothers and sisters across the world – the 2.5 billion people who still live on less than £1 a day, the 2.5 billion people who live without access to sanitation and the 884 million people who have no access to safe drinking water. Whilst I left Hyde Park knowing that I would return to the safety and comfort of my bed that night, millions of people of people across the world still fail to have such security.
Having gathered at Romero House the previous day with a group of CAFOD youth volunteers sharing our experiences of volunteering for CAFOD, their campaigning experiences and entrepreneurial approaches to fundraising continue to inspire and to motivate me a week later to work towards a world where every person has dignity, can flourish and where we can all work towards the common good. Another state visit from the pope may never happen in my life time but we can only hope that by the time the next papal visit takes place we can rest in the knowledge that the debt will have been dropped, we acted to combat climate change and we supported communities across the world that ever dreamt of a life where they were no longer dependent on aid. This task will not be achieved easily but your step to help is – Take action and call the Prime Minister to Act on Poverty now! Written by Kieran Watkins CAFOD Hallam