Messages of Hope in the Houses of Parliament

Angela Wood is going to meet her MP and let her know how she feels about refugees. Can you join her?

Meeting MP
Meeting your MP is the best way to let them know your concerns

From Myanmar to the Mediterranean, refugees continue to flee from persecution and violence; yet there seems to be little political will do something about it. Undoubtedly it’s a difficult issue but if we don’t look for real and just solutions now it will only get worse.

Pope Francis is certainly concerned and clearly intends to do everything he can to make a difference. Back in August, to mark the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he told us that “every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.”

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Pope Francis meets refugees in Rome

In September 2018, world leaders will agree two new global ‘compacts’ (or agreements) at the United Nations: one on refugees and one on migration. Pope Francis has spoken of this as a ‘unique opportunity’ for Catholics worldwide to put pressure on governments.

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Father and baby seeking refuge in Greece

Next week, CAFOD are offering you an opportunity to do just that. From 4th to 8th December, we have been given the opportunity to display some “messages of hope” to refugees in the Houses of Parliament. Last year thousands of Catholics in England and Wales wrote messages of welcome, respect and love and we shared nearly 40,000 of them with refugees in the UK and overseas. Now we want to show our political leaders the strength of feeling on this issue throughout England and Wales.

Would you be willing to invite your MP to meet you in parliament and visit the exhibition together? You can find a sample letter here to help (Messages of Hope exhibition MP invitation)- just post or email it and hope for a positive response.

To make things easier, we’ve also organised a training session on “getting to know your MP” on Tuesday 5th December down in London so you might want to attend this before heading over to meet your MP. Angela Wood, one of our wonderful Campaigners from Hallam is going, so you will not be alone!

Rohingya crisis

Emergency aid is being given to vulnerable families who have fled their homes in Myanmar for Bangladesh.

If you can’t get down to London to meet your MP, you could always send them this letter to encourage them to visit on their own (Messages of Hope exhibition MP encouragement). And, if haven’t done so already, please sign our petition.

Every minute, 20 people around the world are newly displaced. Half of them are children. Let’s do something now to help.

 

#FICAMAUA Let Them Stay!

Jenny Seymour is a volunteer at CAFOD Hallam and is standing together with the Maua community in Sao Paulo, Brazil

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Help stop the eviction of the Maua community in Sao Paulo #ficamaua 

CAFOD does some incredible work around the world in communities that need help and solutions to develop their communities and lift th

em out of poverty.  In Sao Paulo, Brazil,  there is one community that came up with an amazing idea to help themselves and use what little they had to build up a community and enrich their lives – how enterprising!

The Mauá building stands in the centre of São Paulo, Brazil. Once a chic hotel, it was abandoned and left empty for 17 years until, in 2007, over 200 homeless families moved in and renovated it.   They used their own skills and resources and came together as a group.  For the last 10 years they have been trying to win their legal rights to their home – as Brazilian law allows.

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CAFOD Hallam stands with the Maua Community #ficamaua let them stay

Through our Connect2 project, parishes in England and Wales have been following and supporting the Mauá community.   Although the community have fought off eviction orders in the past, unless there is strong political will to protect the rights of the families, they will be made homeless.  They have

 

 

been served with a fresh eviction notice now which is saying that on 21 November, they will be evicted and made homeless.   No contingency plan has been offered by the local authorities in Sao Paulo.  They are prepared to see some 200 families made homeless and all the original owner to stake a claim in this building, even though they let it go to rack and ruin for 17 years and it is the Maua community that put in all their resources and skills to renovate this building so that it was  habitable.     Where are these families going to go?  What is going to happen to them?  They have been living their lives in this building for 10 years!

 

The eviction notice came as a shock to the residents as negotiations with the authorities had been going well.

 

The Mauá community have appealed to the Catholic community in England and Wales to stand by them in their struggle. Neti de Araújo, a community leader with the Mauá residents who in the past visited and met with CAFOD supporters, sent us this message:

“We are going through some really tough times; our rights are being violated. We in the Mauá community have spent 10 years living in this building which we have cleaned, looked after and made into a home for 237 families. For years, we have been negotiating for the acquisition of this building for social housing with an affordable rent.  Now we are at risk of eviction. We have not been offered an alternative. We will have to leave our homes and live in the street. I am counting on you and your prayers.”

We are using the hashtag: #ficamaua let them stay.  Please join with us in showing your support to this community.  Show solidarity with the Mauá community by taking a picture of yourself holding a sign saying #ficamaua to share on Twitter with @CAFOD or Facebook.

 

No one deserves for their houses to be taken from them after this time.  You can add your name to the petition to stop this eviction here.  Help us reach 2000 signatures (only 150 to go at the time of writing).  Please will you also share this petition on social media with your friends and family and, if you would like to share it within your parish, there is a petition you can print out here.

Share the Journey and follow Pope Francis’ call to support refugees

Jenny Seymour is a schools volunteer for CAFOD Hallam and delivers workshops and assemblies to primary school children across the diocese

POPE GENERAL AUDIENCE

Pope Francis asks us all to share the journey

I was really excited when I read the headlines last week: “Pope Francis launches new CARITAS migration campaign.”  Doesn’t sound intriguing or particularly exciting as a headline, but for me it means that the work I am doing within primary schools in my diocese is so current and consistent with the Catholic social teaching and global social justice. It means that the children who take part in our refugee pilgrimage and “share the journey” with refugees will feel as though they’re taking part in something much bigger.  Hopefully, by hearing their parents and grandparents recognising this journey (after seeing Pope Francis’ empassioned plea) and the importance of walking alongside these poor people who have found the need to embark upon potentially treacherous journeys for a better and safer way of life, they will learn compassion towards them as well.

Share Journey

The schools team at CAFOD have been delivering the refugee pilgrimage, based upon the story of the boat that sunk off the coast of Lampedusa, for over a year now.    As soon as the children complete their journey, we ask them to write a message of hope that are then either passed onto refugees or are offered up in a mass for refugees.

These messages have been absolutely inspiring for me and I hope that by following Pope Francis’ call to share the journey many adults will also feel as inspired to help those of God’s people less fortunate than ourselves to find a safe place to live and work.  After all, this world is our common home and each and every one of us should have the same rights to share in it and live life to the fullest.

If you work in a school and want your pupils to take part in our pilgrimage, please contact your schools volunteer or Jeremy at the CAFOD Hallam office (see details at the bottom of this blog).