CAFOD Awareness Weekend in Ringwood and Fordingbridge

Ginny Westwood and Erna Ostler pricing up some cakes

The parish of Ringwood and Fordingbridge has successfully held their annual “CAFOD Awareness Weekend” last June. Our parish contact Helen Eales reports….

“For a couple of years now, since becoming ‘sister parishes’, the Ringwood and Fordingbridge CAFOD groups have joined forces.  We have a two pronged approach: we work to raise awareness among the parishioners of the plight of those that CAFOD helps – and we fundraise. 
Every year we have held an Awareness Weekend.  Sometimes it has been linked to a prayer vigil, sometimes to a plant sale or other event.
In this way we hope that CAFOD will be remembered in everyone’s prayers, as well as prompting the practical help for fundraising and supporting CAFOD’s campaigns. Having heard about the ‘Connect2…..’   initiative from Lynda, the group felt it would be a great focus for us to direct our joint efforts.  The group chose to support the people in Bangladesh.
In the meantime we had heard there was a new speaker for CAFOD, Peter Martin, who would be prepared to come and speak to us.
It all fell into place!  We would launch ‘Connect2 Bangladesh’ with a CAFOD Awareness Weekend with Peter coming to speak to the parishioners.
The Parishes have a coffee morning every month and on 6th June the proceeds were planned to go to CAFOD.  After checking with Fr Des that we could do it, we contacted Peter with the date.  The weekend was fixed.
The folk in the office at Aldershot were brilliant, sending posters and hundreds of leaflets at very short notice and liaising with Peter.

As the weekend approached we gathered more and more information about the lives of people in Bangladesh, their livelihoods and their culture. 
As in previous years, we were given permission to ‘dress’ the churches to reflect the particular theme of the Awareness Weekend so on the Saturday morning we set about creating a display for the Altar steps for each church.  We wanted to include fishing nets, farm produce, something about water and cultural references too.  Peter suggested some tomatoes which we were we were happy to add – though we were a little bemused!
Every parishioner was given one of the Connect2Bangladesh leaflets on arrival and Peter spoke eloquently and simply about the work of CAFOD which goes on year in and year out all over the developing world.  He then went on to explain the particular problems faced by those people who live in Bangladesh’s poorest villages.  He told us how they have to fish in dangerous circumstances for meagre rewards.  But he also told us about some of the help that CAFOD are providing through their partner organisation CARITAS.
And this is where the tomatoes came in.  The villagers are helped to produce top quality food products, not only to feed themselves but also for market.  The beef tomatoes we found in the supermarket weighed 0.25 kg each but the Villagers are producing tomatoes up to 4 times as big!

The Fordingbridge display including hemp sacking, potatoes, lentils and pottery.

After Mass at both churches the CAFOD group members held a cake sale with tea and coffee. Proceeds to CAFOD Connect2Bangladesh – of course!
In Ringwood and Fordingbridge we have a couple of events planned this year and look forward to working with Connect2Bangladesh to feed back to the parishes the results of our efforts.”

Ringwood display: a beautiful sari background to the display, which included water jug, fishing net, and ebony bowl with rice.

Thank you so much to Helen and all the members of the CAFOD group for putting up such a brilliant and successfull event and for all their support!

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