Working in the Philippines – first impressions from Ged

In Ged’s first blog of his trip, he gives us an insight into the background of the Philippines and explains what he’s been up to so far.

Maggie (CAFOD: Nottingham Diocese), David (National Education Volunteer Programme) and I arrived at Manila airport to be met by staff from NASSA/Caritas Philippines.  After a rest we travelled to the Catholic Bishops Conference site to meet our hosts the NASSA staff team and introduce ourselves and begin delivering our volunteer training programme.  It was good to meet Fr Edu Gariguez again who runs NASSA and visited us in the north west in July 2015.

David, Ged and Maggie reach the Philippines at last!

David, Ged and Maggie arrive in the Philippines at last!

Let me explain the background briefly: 104 million people live in the Philippines, 80% of whom are Catholic.  Following Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, CAFOD supporters responded with an amazing £5.4m in a special appeal.  The Typhoon recovery programme was completed  at the end of June.  Anticipating this over 12 months ago, NASSA approached CAFOD for help with a “legacy project”.  They are setting up a new National Volunteering Programme focussed on social action and placing it on a firm financial footing, to be driven and owned by local church and its people.  It was natural that they would approach us for help with this.  CAFOD already has a successful volunteer programme in parishes and schools enabling and encouraging people of all ages to give, act and pray.  We have developed resources and ways of communicating and organising which will be useful to them, and, as a sister-agency, we can help them promote their values and the use of Catholic Social Teaching. For us, the benefits we will see locally will include the chance to share the outcomes back home of our work here and in particular the humanitarian response of the Typhoon Haiyan appeal although this is a by-product.  As always, the main focus is the needs of our partners and those they want to serve.

The Philippines has an initiative similar to CAFOD’s Fast Days.  On Palm Sunday, the Church collects money for its social action work both locally and nationally under the heading of Alay Kapwa, or Offer help to your neighbour based on Mt 25: 40.  The Church now wants to expand this into an all-year round vision of social action of care, prayer and advocacy based upon this Gospel message backed up by action locally and nationally.

Since our first meeting and initial sharing of ideas, we have been travelling to see and listen to diocesan Caritas agencies which have already adopted this new approach and are keen for others to join them.

South of Manila, we have visited the Lipa Archdiocesan Social Action Commission (LASAC) staff and hear and see how they have been putting Catholic Social Teaching into practice in a most down to earth and extraordinary way.  Based on the works of mercy from Mt 25, they provide food and safe water supplies and a clothing charity shop (which are rare here) through a social enterprise where people need it in parts of Batangas, housing for over 1,500 people based on a resident-led model and basic food items for sale in a cooperative shop of which the Rochdale Pioneers would have been proud!  They even have a farm growing flowers for weddings, funerals and the like, providing jobs and keeping money within their community.  LASAC supports an inspiring self-help group scheme for local women based on credit unions with over 4,500 people now operating across four towns and federated with members also pressing the Government for improved rights for their children and communities.  This is supported all the way by LASAC with practical and value-based training and support programmes and financial support where needed.

The extent of the actions LASAC takes makes them a shining example and though they are not an exception, this practice as not as widespread as the Church would like.  The culture of volunteering within the Church here is strong although they would perhaps not use the word volunteer, preferring to see it as parish work.  NASSA work with their diocesan partners to seek to establish a specific Alay Kapwa ministry across the country with generic roles identified (and the details to be worked out locally with the parish priest for example) to attract attention and credibility and sustain commitment.

Taking an active role in their local communities is nothing new for parishes in the Philippines and we will revisit this in a later blog but this is part of the background for our visit.  For now, do look at some of the photos here of our visit to NASSA and LASAC which have so inspired us and hopefully they will give you cause for reflection too.

Catholic Bishops Conference and NASSA's HQ

Catholic Bishop’s Conference and NASSA’s HQ

Food Coop where rice and sugar are cheaper than local shops

The food co-op, where rice and sugar are cheaper than local shops

Fr Edu Gariguez runs NASSA and came to UK in July 2015

Fr Edu Gariguez runs NASSA and came to the UK in July 2015

Are you interested in a “Step into the Gap” Placement?

Apply to become a Gapper today!

If you, or anyone you know, are aged between 18 and 30 and have a passion for global justice, read on to learn more about CAFOD’s gap year programme.

With the academic year and exams mostly over, many students will be looking forwards, and wondering where their next chapter will take them.

Why not kick-start those next steps with a Step into the Gap placement at CAFOD?

Step into the gap2

Beginning in 2017, the placement will give you the opportunity to develop your skills by volunteering in the UK, as well visiting CAFOD’s international partners.

Living and working in one of our UK placements for the academic year, you will learn more about yourself, your faith and the world we live in while inspiring others to make a difference.

Two of our gappers in the North West, Lizzie and Sophie, are just coming to the end of their placements.

Step into the gap

Sophie Hull, who is originally from Blackpool and is volunteering at Just Youth, said: “I will never forget this year, I have enjoyed it so much!  I have gained so much confidence and developed my leadership skills hugely.

“Throughout the year I have been able to put my faith into action by going overseas to Ethiopia to see the work of CAFOD’s partners. On my return, I have been able to share the stories I have encountered there with communities in the UK.  Being able to learn more about CAFOD and see CAFOD’s work first-hand has been a blessing and I am looking forward to carrying on volunteering for CAFOD on social justice in a bid to make the world more just.”

CAFOD are excited to announce a new placement opening in the South East, at St. Cassian’s Centre, Kintbury.

The successful applicant will spend the year at the residential youth centre which is owned by the religious order the de La Salle brothers, in West Berkshire. During the year, they will also visit an international CAFOD partner in Sierra Leone or Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Find out more and apply today by visiting


CAFOD supporters in Liverpool start their Power to Be campaign

We believe that every child can, and should be able to, achieve great things. But with one in six people still living with no electricity, the reality is that this isn’t always the case.  But with investment into local, renewable energy, children’s lives can be transformed.


Volunteers from Holy Name and Our Lady and St Philomena kickstart their Power to be card signing

Volunteers from Holy Name and Our Lady and St Philomena, Fazakerley, kickstart their Power to be card signing

In our latest campaign, Power to be, we are encouraging schools and parishes in the Liverpool Archdiocese to speak up and give children across the world the ‘Power to be’ by signing CAFOD’s campaign action cards.

The cards are part of a petition which calls on Melanie Robinson, the UK’s representative in the World Bank, to invest in local and renewable energy which tackles poverty.

Nearly 90 per cent of people without electricity live in villages. It can be expensive and difficult to extend the main grid to homes, schools and clinics in rural areas. The cheapest, fastest, and most efficient solution is usually to provide mini-grids powered by renewables.

Parishioners from St Benet's kickstarted their Power to be Campaign at a CAFOD evening in June

Parishioners from St Benet’s, Netherton, kickstarted their Power to be Campaign at a CAFOD evening in June

By taking our Power to Be campaign action cards into your local parishes and schools, and by sharing them with your friends, pupils and families, you can help to make a difference.

Those in the Liverpool Archdiocese are already showing their support for the campaign, including Archbishop Malcolm McMahon.

Archbishop Malcolm said, “I’m delighted to support CAFOD’s campaign to the World Bank which will enable children in the poorest places to access the education they deserve and to aspire to a brighter future.”

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon signed his card for the Power to be Campaign

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon signed his card for the Power to be Campaign

You can also use this opportunity to Speak Up about climate change at this year’s Week of Action from 1-9 July.  Take a card, gather your friends and meet with your newly elected local MP’s to show that you care about energy access for the world’s poorest people.

If you would like to receive campaign action cards to share in your parish or school, please order them online or call 0300 011 5680.  For further information, contact the CAFOD Liverpool Volunteer Centre on 0151 228 4028 or email

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Come and hear Fr Peter Hughes

CAFOD Liverpool will be proud to welcome Father Peter Hughes, an Irish priest who has spent the last three decades living and working with poor communities in Peru, when he visits Wigan on 8 July 2017 to share his experiences of the impact of climate change on local communities.

The event, which is being co-hosted by the aid agency CAFOD and the Liverpool Justice and Peace Commission, will be held at St Joseph’s Parish Centre in Wrightington, Wigan on Saturday 8 July and begins at 9.30am. It will hopefully be attended by local West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper.

fr peter liverpool

Father Peter Hughes was born in County Mayo, Ireland, but having lived in Peru has become an expert in the conditions in South America. He is touring the UK with his lecture ‘Listening to the cry of the earth, and the cry of the poor’, which is a response to Pope Francis’ call for people to care more for the earth and each other.

Father Peter works with bishops across Latin America to support indigenous communities living in the Amazon rain forest, and is an adviser to the Instituto Bartolome de las Casas and CELAM, the collegial council of Latin American bishops.  He recently made a presentation to the United Nations in New York.

CAFOD representative, Sarah Croft, said: “We are privileged and inspired to hear first-hand how our sisters and brothers in Latin America are responding to the Pope’s call to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. We have our part to play in the UK too.

“That’s why people in Wigan are adding their voices to CAFOD’s Power to be campaign – calling for World Bank support to enable the poorest communities around the world to have access to local, renewable energy to tackle poverty without harming the earth we share.”

The event is being held as a part of the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up Week of Action, which encourages CAFOD supporters to meet up with their MPs to discuss climate change.

There will also be an opportunity to hear about CAFOD’s latest campaign, Power to be.  One in six people around the world are still live without electricity. As local, renewable energy is usually the cheapest, fastest and most efficient solution to bring power to the poorest communities, CAFOD is calling on Melanie Robinson, the UK’s representative at the World Bank, to focus UK spending on renewable energy that will allow children to reach their potential.

To find out more about the event or to attend, please contact Colette at CAFOD Liverpool by calling 0151 228 4028 or by emailing

The talk will be followed by a shared lunch, so please bring something to share.

We look forward to seeing you there!



Liverpool’s Thanksgiving Event for Volunteers – 10th June

On Saturday 10 June, CAFOD volunteers from the Archdiocese of Liverpool came together to celebrate their achievements in an afternoon full of events, cake and friendship.


One of the delicious cakes on offer

The afternoon began with tea and cake, made by the staff and volunteers, and we were asked to discuss our highlights of volunteering for CAFOD with the person next to us.

18e 10.6.17 CAFOD Volunteers at St Bartholomews Rainhill

We heard from volunteers from across the diocese, some of whom were schools’ volunteers and parish volunteers from their local CAFOD groups.  There was such a huge mix of activities that people take part in for CAFOD: from beetle drives to giving talks in schools, from selling fair trade goods to holding collections after Mass… It is inspiring to see such variety and we are grateful for it all!

04e 10.6.17 CAFOD Volunteers at St Bartholomews Rainhill

Every Christmas, Elizabeth takes part in the Liverpool Fun Run for CAFOD in fancy dress… Past costumes include a ‘Christmas pudding’ and last year, Jesus, who gave out books to the children who were attending the run!

23e 10.6.17 CAFOD Volunteers at St Bartholomews Rainhill

Justine is CAFOD Liverpool’s Education Volunteer Co-ordinator who goes into local schools to spread the word of CAFOD and the various campaigns we run. She is always looking to make the experience for schools and volunteers the best it can be, sharing her thoughtful reflections on poverty and justice, and inspiring volunteers and children and young people with her work.

07e 10.6.17 CAFOD Volunteers at St Bartholomews Rainhill

Bernie (left) and Justine (Right)

After we shared our highlights, Weronika from CAFOD’s Latin America team gave us a talk about the Connect2 programme and specifically Connect2 Peru.  It was great to see the hand of friendship that local parishes are extending through this programme and the rewards that both sides see from being involved.

19e 10.6.17 CAFOD Volunteers at St Bartholomews Rainhill


We had a wonderful afternoon together and it was great to be able to celebrate our volunteers in the Liverpool diocese and share and inspire us all with the brilliant stories!

Thank you!