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.

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).