Last weekend a small group from CAFOD, including the Director of Caritas Colombia Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao, visited Jersey to thank everyone for their sterling support over the last 50 years.
Monsignor France, Chair of CAFOD Jersey and Pastoral Area Coordinator started the weekend off by welcoming everyone to the St Thomas’ community centre on Friday night.
He recalled some highlights from CAFOD’s history including the first Family Fast Days, the past Directors of CAFOD and the change of our name from a ‘Fund’ to an ‘Agency’ in the year 2000 to more accurately reflect the way we work with partners and our education and advocacy programme.
Monsignor France told us that had known one of CAFOD’s founders, Elspeth Orchard, and recalled her telling him how she had banked the first cheque from the very first ever Fast Day all those years ago.
He then spoke about the hard work of all the CAFOD volunteers who have helped coordinate the fundraising and awareness raising across the island ever since throughout the year and beyond the two Fast Days.
Although he acknowledged many of the problems of the world that we still face today, Monsignor France said we should also recognise the good that has been achieved over the past 50 years and stated that,
“Tonight is a time when we can celebrate… to look at what has been achieved through our participation which must always be two-way….for we are enriched through this partnership.’
Mike Noyes, Head of Humanitarian Programmes, who leads on all our emergencies work outside Africa then talked about our work with particular reference to Haiti and the special way in which CAFOD works with partners as a partnership agency.
Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao, from our main partner in Colombia, was then invited to give the closing talk. Monsignor Henao coordinates a network of offices throughout Colombia that seek to translate into practice the Church’s work for peace and reconciliation, the defence of human rights and assistance to victims of the internal conflict.
He explained that his work focussed on supporting people who have been displaced through the 60 year internal conflict. 4 million people within Colombia (10% of the total population) have been internally displaced in the last two decades. Monsignor Henao explained that the first step to helping people was to gather communities together from many different regions to help plan a common project that would help rebuild lives.
Many people discovered that they had very similar experiences to one another during those meetings which helped unite them and bring about the development of a common plan of action. The communities then looked at all their different skills and capacities before deciding to focus on growing coffee and approaching CAFOD for assistance. The coffee they produce is now called Eurocafe (you may remember this from previous Lenten materials). The name was chosen because the community hope that one day they may be able to export the coffee here and they wished to recognise where the support for the project originated.
Monsignor Henao said that he didn’t know much about coffee but he had recently learned that there was an internationally recognised scale from 1-10 to measure the quality of coffee and that Eurocafe’s coffee has just been graded at 9 which is incredibly high! The community are now working towards Fairtrade certification and may one day be able to export to Europe.
Monsignor Henao also spoke about the Children for Peace initiative. He explained that most of the displaced people are women and children as most of the men involved are killed.
In one particular region in which large numbers of people had been forced from their land, he recalled receiving a message that a few people remained and needed help. Although the information was sketchy, he set out to visit the area to see if there was in fact anyone left and found 2 children; one 12 year old and his 2 year old brother.
The 12 year old boy was so traumatised that he was completely rigid and would not release his 2 year old brother from his folded arms. He had been like that for 10 hours. Both children were taken to hospital, treated and then discharged – but neither of them were offered any psychological treatment. Monsignor Henao said that this prompted him to start the movement of Children for Peace to help children express their feelings and talk about their experiences through music and sport.
He ended by thanking everyone for all their support that has made this work possible and ended by reminding us all that peace is an issue for the human family, not just Colombia.
It was so great to see so many familiar faces from across the island on the night. Thank you all for coming. We received such a warm welcome – it was just brilliant.
Our special thanks also go to our host Monsignor France, our volunteers and members of CAFOD Jersey including Phil McDermott, Elizabeth Donoghue and Vi Alcock for enabling this wonderful event to happen – and our special guest speaker Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao for all his support. Thank you too to our fab volunteers from the Jersey Association of Catholic Youth (JACY) who helped us serve the nibbles!