Bishop John Rawsthorne, Bishop of Hallam and Chair of our Board of Trustees, has visited the village of Glarlay in Liberia, in May where CAFOD are supporting thousands of refugees.
At least 130,000 people have fled into Liberia from Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in the last few months, to escape violence following a disputed general election.
Bishop Rawsthorne met some of the refugees in the village of Glarlay, and saw for himself the basic conditions in which they’re living. The village’s population has almost doubled since the refugees started arriving, and the sheer number of people is placing an enormous strain on meagre supplies of food and water.
Despite the hardships people face, Bishop Rawsthorne said that he was heartened by the compassion that people in Glarlay were showing.
“In coming to Liberia, I was looking for a sense of sustainable hope, which I have found,” he said. “The relationship between the refugees and the local people is amazing. It is a wonderful expression of human solidarity.”
We will not walk away
I told the people in Glarlay that CAFOD will not walk away. That remains our commitment.Bishop Rawsthorne
We are working with three local organisations in Glarlay to provide emergency food, water, shelters, sleeping mats, blankets and cooking utensils for the refugees. We are also supplying seeds to help families grow more food over the coming months, and providing a safe space for children who arrived without their parents.
“I want to pay tribute not only to the work they’re doing,” he said, “but the way in which they’re doing it, in collaboration with each other, with CAFOD, but most of all with the local people. The local people feel that they are treated with respect and listened to seriously.
“I go home conscious that the problems facing Liberia are still huge, the poverty is immense, but good things are happening. I told the people in Glarlay that CAFOD will not walk away – even though the television cameras have moved on. That remains our commitment.”
Jesus fed the 5,000. CAFOD is feeding us
The people of Glarlay were visibly moved by the Bishop’s visit, and expressed gratitude for the work of CAFOD and our partners.
Willie Bumie, the Chief Elder of Glarlay, said: “I love Jesus, but I have never seen him. Today I have seen him in the Bishop. Jesus fed the 5,000 and CAFOD is feeding us.”