CAFOD Liverpool Office Takes Action on Fairtrade Campaign

 

CAFOD’s latest campaign action is targeting Sainsbury’s in response to their decision to move away from the Fairtrade label on some of their tea products, replacing it with their own ‘Fairly Traded’ tea. We are concerned that this could result in unfair deals for poor farmers. The Fairtrade Foundation has said that 229,000 farmers would be affected by Sainsbury’s proposed change, which is why it is so important to get involved and tell Sainsbury’s: Don’t Ditch Fairtrade!

The campaign is simply asking if you could get a photo taken in front of your local Sainsbury’s with the tea mug prop and then sign and give over the letter to the store manager. Fairtrade and tea are two things that we feel particularly strong about in the Liverpool office, so we took a trip down to our local Sainsbury’s to get involved.

Ged, Colette, Rosie, Stephen, and myself all signed the campaign letter and took our CAFOD banner, flags and tea mug down to Sainsbury’s. Ged handed the letter to the Duty Manager, who said he would pass it on to Sainsbury’s PR department for a response. We have put together a video of our visit, which you can find on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

We enjoyed getting out of the office and getting involved with this campaign, and it’s so easy to do. See what you can do to get involved, and if you do we would love to hear about it in the Liverpool Office!

Written by Emily McIndoe, Campaigns volunteer 

Costa Rica and the Importance of Renewable Energy around the World

The importance of renewable energy has had a persistent presence on social media and in the news in the past few years, accompanied by ominous but important warnings of the consequences of continuing fossil fuel reliance. For me personally, it is something that has been a key focus in the past few months, through promoting CAFOD’s current Power to Be campaign and having recently returned from Costa Rica, one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world.

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The edge of the Arenal Lake in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. The lake was created by the construction of a hydroelectric dam, which provides 12% of the country’s electricity.

My name is Emily and I began volunteering with the CAFOD Liverpool Office earlier this year as a campaigns volunteer during the final year of my history degree at the University of Liverpool. I decided to volunteer because of the more general reasons; wanting to make a more direct contribution to the local community and raising awareness of the bigger global issues through campaigning, but more specifically I was particularly interested in how organisations like CAFOD interact with both governments and communities around the world. Through my dissertation research into the way in which the US government prioritised its aid and the impact this had on the lives of ordinary Salvadoran citizens, the importance of the work of organisations like CAFOD to people in the poorest parts of the world became inescapably obvious and was one of the main reasons that I decided to volunteer with CAFOD in particular.

 

I recently spent several weeks travelling through Central America and in Costa Rica more specifically. One of the main things I noticed was that everywhere I went in Costa Rica, even in the most remote places, there were constant reminders of the country’s environmental outlook and renewable energy targets. These included everything from the little things, like signs on every single toilet detailing what not to flush and eco-

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One of the several art installations made from recycled materials in San Jose, Costa Rica.

friendly shower systems, to the more obvious, such as the solar panels on most buildings across the county. In 2015, Costa Rica broke the record for the most days without using fossil fuels to generate power, reaching 75 consecutive days at the beginning of the year. In 2016 it managed to use 98% clean energy for its total power consumption throughout the year and the government has claimed that the country hopes to be carbon neutral by 2021. This is a substantial achievement and a definite victory for the environment, made even more impressive when compared with countries such as the USA, which only managed to use 15% renewable energy in 2016. The benefits of these environmental policies are also clear to see; the air is noticeably cleaner than I’ve ever experienced before and signs of climate change aren’t nearly as obvious as they are elsewhere.

 

Costa Rica provides an excellent example of the environmental benefits of focusing on renewable energy, whilst CAFOD’s current Power to Be campaign highlights the other side; the transformation of people’s lives that is possible through improving access to renewable energy in the world’s poorest places. Nearly one in six people don’t have access to electricity, yet renewable energy resources are sufficient enough to potentially supply the world’s energy demands. It is estimated that wider energy access would improve literacy rates, education and generally improve the quality of life for an incredibly large proportion of people. Given that connecting to energy grids fuelled by fossil fuels is so expensive in many poorer countries, increasing access to renewable energy would not only be better for the environment, but would make a significant impact on the lives of nearly a billion people.

 

The focus on renewable energy is also present at home in the UK, a big part of CAFOD’s LiveSimply award, which encourages communities to show how they have been living sustainably with creation, as well as living simply and solidarity with people in poverty. By encouraging communities to live sustainably with creation, CAFOD encourages the

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Montezuma Beach, Costa Rica. A beautiful example of how the government’s commitment to clean energy helps to preserve the natural environment.

use of small cleaner energy resources, such as solar panels, among other initiatives such as recycling and reducing their carbon footprint. The centrality of renewable energy to a variety of CAFOD projects, both globally as well as at home, together with the commitment of governments in Costa Rica and 47 other developing countries that have committed to becoming 100% reliant on renewable energy, demonstrates that total reliance on renewable, cleaner energy is becoming a much more realistic goal.

Get involved with CAFOD’s campaigns

Written by Emily McIndoe, CAFOD Liverpool volunteer

The Church taking action and Christian life in the Philippines

Today’s my first day back in the CAFOD Liverpool Volunteer Centre after our trip to the Philippines.  This is my fourth blog and I want to say something about how our partners NASSA/Caritas Philippines (NASSA for short) and the Church is working to enable people and the planet to have a more sustainable future.  I’ll try and give a brief outline of how the Church is already responding to social concerns, based on its structures, what its potential is to make further improvements and the directions it seeks to take.  Once again, these are just the impressions I’ve received from what we’ve witnessed heard from others there.

Church-sponsored Social Action work operates at all levels (local/parish, diocesan and national).  Throughout this work, like a thread through their lives, people expect and plan for coping with natural disasters (earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc.).  On Palm Sunday, they collect money and keep some for local development work (helping people make their lives better), put some aside for emergencies (typhoons, earthquakes, etc.) and send some to NASSA to provide support to the whole church and respond where the local Church can’t cope.  Typhoons are an example and the recent ones have been so damaging that even the local and national support wasn’t enough so other Caritas agencies like CAFOD came to help.

blog 4 .1A great example of people coping with such circumstances was in Pasig south of Manila where Fr Errol is the PP of a parish of 20,000.  We were there at a survey meeting with NASSA staff to find out where local people need most training to cope with the next major shock.  They already know they are OK at dealing with floods because four years ago, heavy rains on the Sierra Madre Mountains became an 8-foot torrent around the church.  Huge amounts of damage.  People now have an evacuation drill worked out and practise it regularly so NASSA will help train local people to deal with earthquakes instead.  To cope with such events, Fr Errol has setting up local Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) of 15-20 families each.  The Groups meet weekly and pray but they are also dealing with the issues of their lives.  He meets monthly with representatives from each BEC and visits the BECs on a rolling programme too.  This is a growing model – in 2017 people are more focussed on parishes becoming “communities of communities.” NASSA is keen to encourage parishes and BECs to go beyond emergency relief and support one another on a more regular basis, responding to needs as local people see it.  NASSA work largely through their local diocesan Social Action Centres who support such developments, some more strongly than others.  In my first blog, I mentioned the work of Lipa Archdiocese’s Social Action Centre nearby (LASAC) as a strong example.  This idea of small communities is at the heart of the Self-Help Group Programme in the Lipa area where women cluster together and save a little money each week in a credit union.  On the back of this a massive movement has quickly grown with four towns covered by their own network of such groups in depth.  These networks in clusters and in larger federations advocate for political change as well as basic community and economic development.  The Groups design and lead the new developments.

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Florenzio, right, whose nickname is Entoy

We heard about the need for this approach too from Environmentalist Florenzio from Sorsogon Diocese.  When we were looking at the world stats, he was not only familiar with the international picture of poverty, inequality and power as we looked at the world map but also knew well the local position too.  His group have completed a local audit and had a map as part of the planning for emergency relief led by NASSA across the country.  He knew where the people who didn’t have toilets (or latrines) were, those who didn’t have running water, and about child health concerns for under 5s.  Fishermen and farmers were the poorest he told me and his greatest concern was for the environmental damage in fishing and the dumping of waste by people.  He struck me with his quiet and deep commitment to improving the lot of farmers and fishermen who struggle with poor conditions, low wages and the poisoning and dynamiting of fish stocks with poor support for their rights from the Government.  He had nearly been shot in defence of local people and told me calmly and matter-of-factly that he was ready to die for what he believed in, the beauty of the earth and the needs of the poor, and was proud of the involvement of the Church in this.

When I asked him what he hoped for from the day, he quietly thought for a moment and, reverting to his own language, simply said, “Bayanihan!”  This means “spirit of cooperation”, a term Filipinos have coined from a practical example.  Many people live in houses which need to be more mobile than we are used to because of the natural hazards they face.  When someone needs to move, they often literally move their house on poles too. This takes a great deal of effort from a team of people and this practice is used to encapsulate the spirit of cooperation.

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Typical Bayanihan hut

We saw a wonderful Church-sponsored rice growing project in the north.  317 rice farmers have grouped together through the Social Action Centre to form an organic cooperative.  Tatay (“Grandad”) Ben, deeply respected we were told by the farmers, tests the farms for artificial fertilisers and encourages people to stay in the scheme.  He told me that unless something was done to protect the land, it would become exhausted in 40 years with over-farming and climate change.  You can see in his hands a sample of the organic fertiliser they have developed which is like rocket fuel for rice!  He was another who calmly spoke his truth to us, cradling the soil in his hands – it was part of him – all the time we were speaking with him.

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Tatay Ben with finished organic fertiliser

I also met resistance to taking social action.  A young man told me earnestly about the wonderful BECs (6 in his parish) and it was early days.  The Groups were focussed on prayer activity so far with a 2-hour Bible study a day.  However, he was reluctant to get involved in social action: “The rich have more and they should give more!  We will pray!”  Some we used in the training, such as the Lampedusa Cross Service, encouraged people not only to pray but to find out about the world, to share their concerns from compassion and to consider taking action.  While he has a good point, we hoped he too would put his shoulder to the wheel after the training!

And he does have a point about the rich of course.  CAFOD’s work in the Philippines is now at an end – for the moment at least as we need to focus scarce resources on other nations.  NASSA are trying to become more independent of foreign aid and engage more people in social action and supporting their local people but I also learnt this from Analyn, NASSA’s community worker: 76% of the $13bn annual income in the Philippines is in the hands of just 40 families.

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Forbes Magazine 2011

This means that the other 104,000,000 people have only 24% of the wealth of the nation to keep them going, which was only $3.75 Billion around $36.06 per person per year.  That’s not CAFOD being mean or tired – if we had more, we could give more to more partners.  It’s simple: other nations need our support even more.  The Church in the Philippines, who also gave to the people of Nepal in the 2015 earthquake, are trying to share their resources better and encourage more people to make their voices heard in favour of the poor.

Find out more about the work CAFOD does in the Philippines. 

St Anne’s Ormskirk celebrates their Live Simply Weekend!

St Anne’s Ormskirk is one of the parishes across the Archdiocese taking part in the Live Simply Award Scheme. To celebrate approaching the half way point they hosted a Live Simply weekend.

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A stall with information about Livesimply.

The weekend started with a shared lunch after mass on Saturday which some asylum seekers from Ormskirk and Skelmersdale came to, to provide a chance to integrate with the community, and to allow the parishioners to “Live in Solidarity”. About 50 people attended this and brought lots of almost entirely vegetarian food, “Living sustainably”.

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Some of the food available.

There were displays about the work so far in the Live Simply campaign, including artwork done by the children in St Anne’s school,  a Fair Trade stall and sales for Sreepur Vilage in Bangladesh, which carried on with coffee after Masses on Sunday morning. The stalls raised £180 .78 for Fairtrade and £53.40 for Sreepur Village. Fair Trade tea and coffee as always after Sunday morning masses and proceeds to Marian Care in Southport as always after Sunday Morning Masses.

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The Fairtrade stall.

At all of the four Sunday Masses, including the Saturday evening vigil mass, the priests preached on the theme of Live Simply, there were appropriate hymns and Live Simply themed bidding prayers and Eucharistic prayer IV for special occasions – Jesus who went about doing good – was used.

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Some of the artwork created by the local primary school St Anne’s.

At each Mass parishioners completed pledges, for how they would Live Simply, Sustainably or in Solidarity, and they were then collected and included in the offertory.  The four masses were attended by 534 people in total, and a lot of pledges were collected.

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Some of the many pledges by parisioners.

At the 10.30 family Mass the children in the liturgy group made their own pledges on big suns which they brought in and took up as part of the Offertory and they stayed on the altar during Mass then went to the Lady Chapel.

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An individual pledge.

The pledges are currently being sorted, and listed, to see which pledges are most popular to allow the parish to focus on particular activities while allowing individual parishioners to focus on their own pledge.

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Some of the Live Simply artwork displayed on the pillars around the church.

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A sign encouraging people to switch off the lights, to save electricity.

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A sign pointing to the recycling bins, to encourage recycling.

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A bin, for used teabags.

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One of the many CAFOD posters.

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A poster explaining many of the different food labels.

An “Inspiring” Day With Fr Peter Hughes and Sarah Croft in Wrightington

St Joseph’s Parish Centre, Wrightington played host to an “Inspiring” and “Great” day on Saturday, 8th July 2017.

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Some of the audience members.

Fr Peter Hughes SSC, a Columban Missionary, was our keynote speaker, and will be speaking at the National Justice and Peace Network annual Conference, as a result the event was a joint event with our friends at the Liverpool Justice and Peace Commission.

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Fr Peter During his talk.

During a “wonderful” talk that “provided much food for thought” Fr Peter described the influence that climate change is having on the indigenous communities in Peru. He went on to describe a new scheme, backed by Pope Francis, called REPAM “Red Eclesial PanAmazónica”, which transaltes to “PanAmazon Ecclesial Network”. The scheme allowed the leaders of indigenous communities in Latin America to talk about their experiences in front of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights at the UN.

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Fr Peter, with some of CAFOD’s volunteers.

You can watch the talk by going to youtube.com/watch?v=YS9YHNh0uDc the audience were then invited to ask questions, which you can watch at youtube.com/watch?v=Yww2UBkcs8k

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Some of the audience posing for a photograph.

After the event Fr Peter said “I spoke today from a Latin American perspective about climate change. As Catholics, we all have our own part to play in helping to fight against poverty and climate change across the world.”

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CAFOD’s Campaigns Manager Sarah Croft.

After a short break, Sarah Croft, who is CAFOD’s Campaigns Manager spoke about CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign which calls on Melanie Robinson, the UK’s representative at the World Bank,  to support renewable energy which tackles poverty, so everyone can have the chance to fulfill their God-given potential. It was said that Sarah “did a great job in explaining the new project”.

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The audience enjoying one of the talks.

The discussion then turned to the LiveSimply Award which is an opportunity for Catholic communities – parishes, schools, religious orders and chaplaincies – to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation in Laudato Si’ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”. Livesimply is beginning to take off across the Archdiocese, with St Anne’s Ormskirk for example hosting a Livesimply weekend to celebrate the parish reaching the midway stage.

You can watch Sarah talking about Power to Be and Live Simply by visiting youtube.com/watch?v=e9MD9Zta5jw

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Sarah Croft listening to a question from the audience

Unfortunately the local MP was unable to attend, so for the final session of the day Sarah Croft spoke about the MP Correspondent Scheme which is a scheme that enables you to help ensure that the voices of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are heard in the corridors of power.

Sarah’s talk can be seen at youtube.com/watch?v=fW6ocLwKAY4

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Colette from CAFOD Liverpool leading the group in a closing prayer.

After the event Sarah said “We are privileged and inspired to have heard 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.”

The day then ended with a shared lunch, you can see all of the videos in one place by clicking youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5UUtVasGFc-wnmD4j_YjtyHpUYB5a1iY

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Some of CAFOD’s volunteers standing together, outside St Joseph’s Parish Centre