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

 

#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.

CAFOD’s emergency response to Irma, earthquakes and floods

Jenny Seymour is a volunteer for CAFOD Hallam

I’m sure there isn’t one of us who hasn’t been affected by the devastating scenes on the news recently as a result of Hurricane Irma and her deathly blow across the Carribean and Florida.  I am also sure that many of you, like me, will have friends or family over in those places affected by this destruction and have been glued to the TV or social media for news of your loved ones.

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My cousin, her husband and 3 sons have lived in Florida now for many many years and finally last week she posted “what with black bears, snakes, mosquitoes, hot sun and hurricanes….it’s time to move back!” (although I think I may prefer the hot sun!).  Whilst the strength of the hurricane had subsided slightly by the time it reached Orlando, they still had to hunker down, stay inside in a room with no windows,  move all their furniture and belongings to a safe place and get ready with their hurricane lights and candles.  They have now been without power for almost a week and they’re all suffering from “power envy” – when they hear that one of their fellow neighbours has had their power returned.  It’s actually good to see that in Florida (obviously one of the more developed nations to have been hit by Irma) they are all getting together to have “community cook outs” where those with power are inviting others to come and enjoy a warm  meal and drink and of course, food banks are serving an even greater need over there and people drop off their supplies at local churches.

Irma

Again, I find myself considering how lucky me and my family are to live where we do – we lost a few branches to “Aileen” earlier this week and this pales into comparison to the devastation elsewhere in the world.  The poor people of Barbuda and Anguilla have lost everything and have to build their lives again, as have the people in Oaxaca, Mexico after the earthquake that struck last week as well.  CAFOD has offered prayers and support to CARITAS Mexico, but they already have a strong emergency response capacity and CAFOD will be working through CARITAS Antilles which will cover the islands under their jurisdiction within the Carribean.

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If you would like to donate to help the people who have suffered as a result of these horrific natural disasters, please click here to donate to CAFOD’s emergency response funds.  You can give a one off donation or set up a direct debit today!