Our amazing gappers, Neal and James, returned to sunny Blackpool this week and have already started to share their stories. Here they write some intial thoughts on their return.
My month in Sierra Leone was eye opening and truly inspiring. It gave me the chance to stay in communities with extremely basic conditions: no water or electricity. Throughout this trip I learnt about how a lot of the world live and it taught me how much we can change people’s lives for the better.
I had the opportunity to meet with many communities and spend a lot of time with them. We exchanged stories and spoke about how the self-sustaining CAFOD funded projects had developed better livelihoods and improved family income.
We spoke at length about unlocking the potential of the Moringa cake as a food supplement to increase the productivity, and profitability of poultry and fresh water fish in Sierra Leone and how this project is changing the lives of the beneficiaries of each community.
Families can now afford to send their children to school, to buy food and resources but most importantly the Moringa cake project has empowered communities.
This has been an experience of a life time and I am now able to keep these stories photographs and memories for life but also to share and educate people on CAFOD’s work overseas.
I have now been back from El Salvador and Guatemala for just over a week and my time spent there with CAFOD as part of there ‘Step into the Gap’ programme has been one that has been thoroughly enjoyable. The people that we met and the stories that we heard have all been inspiring. Not only have they personally had an in impact on me, but I am certain that they will have an impact on the people that I share them with.
The story of both El Salvador and Guatemala is one that is steeped in the atrocities of war, and people’s lives being taken away all too soon. They are both similarly also linked with the fight for freedom, justice and equality, but all too often ignored by those in power. Those the events of war and conflict occurred in both El Salvador and Guatemala nearly 20 years ago respectively they still have deeply wounded the people living there today.
So with this in mind, what can be achieved through CAFOD’s work in these two places? Ultimately it comes from the core of CAFOD’s ethos, to offer people dignity and a feeling of self worth and purpose. Through CAFOD’s emphasis on the importance of solidarity and partnership these two fundamental traits of humanity can be achieved, and are achieved. The most adored person in this region is Oscar Romero, he once famously said, ‘aspire to be more, not to have more.’ This message of wanting to be more as a human, to be more complete as a human, is what for me makes these two places so very special and so very inspirational.
We’re now recruiting for next year’s Step into the Gap programme.
Closing date for applications is 31 March 2014.
More information here