A Future of Hope for Afghanistan? Will the Afghan people enjoy kiterunning again?

Jenny Seymour is a volunteer in the CAFOD Hallam office.  Yesterday, I went to the theatre to see Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed novel, the Kiterunner and it reminded me of the work that CAFOD do to help the role of Afghan women

 

I absolutely love the novel, the Kiterunner, and in fact, I love many of Khaled Hosseini’s works on life in Afghanistan.  I’ve now read the book, seen the film and watched the play adaptation and each one has moved me incredibly.  As I watched the play last night I found myself wondering, “What would I do?” – would I step up to the mark and help my fellow citizens of the world/my friends when they need me the most?  I like to think I would, but the harrowing events of this story actually take place when the lead character is 12 years old.  I think a 12 year old can be forgiven for running from their fears, after all he is still a child.  However, unfortunately, in the war-torn world we live in children have witnessed such atrocities and, like Amir, the lead character in the Kiterunner, their lives are changed forever.

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Children are forced to grow up quickly and many have to drop the lives that they have known and loved to go on a difficult and dangerous journey across the globe – but they are still just children, with the same hopes and dreams that our own kids would have.  They have a right to be safe.  The play last night also tackled the issue of refugees.  Amir and his father make the difficult decision to leave Afghanistan for America when the Russian army move in.  They are cramped into a pitch-black truck with many other families and are treated very badly.  People who may have been wealthy, well educated and highly regarded in their own country are left to find mundane jobs to make a living.  I thought that this aspect of the play was really well produced and the audience are really able to empathise with this change in status of the family as their lives progress.

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I left the theatre last night with a sense of guilt, but thankful that I have not had to witness first hand the atrocities of war and that, for now, my children are being brought up in a safe environment.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. 30 years of conflict mean that a third of the population lives on less than 60 pence a day, one in six children die before their fifth birthday, and the average life expectancy is just 48. The status of women in Afghanistan is especially low.  CAFOD has been supporting communities there since the 1980s.  Their work focuses on peace in the region, women’s rights and improving peoples’ lives so that they can grow out of poverty.

The work CAFOD has done with its partners has enabled women to start their own businesses and save.  in particular, saffron is grown and traded.

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Women Crocus growers in Afghanistan

Please support CAFOD’s partners in Afghanistan and donate to our work – click here to donate.

saffron flowers

 

What are you doing to Brighten Up this Harvest Fast Day?

Jenny Seymour is a Schools Volunteer in CAFOD Hallam and is asking schools to Brighten up this Harvest Fast Day

Tomorrow (Friday October 6th) is CAFOD’s Harvest Fast Day.  Following the huge success of our previous fast day campaigns, we are asking school children and their teachers to “Brighten Up” for Harvest and we have had some amazing results!

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Some children are wearing their brightly coloured PE t-shirts (as they are all in bright colours to signify their “house”) and other schools have truly embraced the Brighten Up theme and are having a sponsored “colour splash” – I am told this involves bright coloured powder paint and a very brave headteacher!!!  You can download your very own fundraising kit – with sponsorship forms and press release templates here.

This year’s assembly is great, as it sees us revisit the children of El Salvador that were in need of CAFOD’s help some years ago and it shows how CAFOD (with your support) has helped their communities (and in turn them as individuals) to grow out of poverty and be in a much better place to achieve their dreams!

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What are you and your school doing to brighten up the world this Harvest Fast Day?  Please do post your photos on our facebook page and don’t forget to tag us on your twitter feeds!

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Schools volunteers will be visiting schools this half term and delivering the harvest fast day assembly – Book a Harvest Fast Day visit now!

Holy Rood collecting for Harvest

Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator (CPC) for Hallam diocese, tells us the best thing about his job.

Yesterday was a good day. Not quite a getting married/having a baby/winning the lottery sort of day, but pretty good nonetheless.

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Khawla and her new baby, Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Arguably, the work of a CPC is not at the glamorous end of the CAFOD spectrum- we don’t jet out to foreign parts and see, first-hand, how our work is having a positive impact on people’s lives. However, what we do get to do is visit the parish communities who so generously support us. For me, it’s definitely the highlight of our job and yesterday was no exception.

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Pat, Fr. Damian and John at Holy Rood, Barnsley

I’d been invited by Fr. Damian Humphries to speak at Holy Rood in Barnsley about Harvest Fast Day. For years, the parish has been a great supporter so I wasn’t surprised when I was greeted with a “You’re very welcome, Mr. CAFOD!”, and they meant it. Everyone I spoke to was so friendly it left me feeling like this was my home parish. However, it was especially good to meet John, our parish contact, and Pat, a woman with so much enthusiasm that she should bottle and sell it! Together with John’s wife, Sue, who was sadly unwell yesterday, they make sure that CAFOD’s mission remains high on the parish’s list of priorities.

But it’s not, of course, the only priority and John spoke to me about how there’s an increasing demand on people’s generosity; he’s concerned that as people are being asked for more and more, their ability to give to CAFOD will decrease.  Nevertheless, he thinks he’s found an answer and one that chimes perfectly with CAFOD’s commitment to Laudato Si’: recycling!

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Trade in your trash for cash with CAFOD

Did you know, that you can trade in your trash for cash? With only a little bit of effort, the stuff you no longer want or need can be converted into much-needed funds for CAFOD’s work. And the best bit, of course, is that it doesn’t cost you a penny!

We’ll always need people to be as generous as they can for our Fast Days but if, like John, we get creative, then there’s lots of ways we can generate a little extra. Barnsley may not be glamorous (though, to be fair, I didn’t see all of it) but it’s still a great place to be.