Step into the Gap volunteers share their experiences in an online webinar 30th April

The gappers

The gappers

Earlier this year, five young adults from CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme were transformed when they travelled to Cambodia to see the work of CAFOD and its partners first hand.

Hugh, Daisy, Francis, Orla and Rebecca saw the work of two CAFOD partners, Cambodian Organisation for Children’s Development (COCD) and Karuna Battambang Organisation (KBO). Inspired by some remarkable people, Orla shared that “the happiness and joy of the people has been undeniably infectious, making each encounter as beautiful as the next.” They visited a variety of agricultural projects such as chicken rearing and vegetable farming as well as Water and Sanitation projects. One project was focussed on accessing toilets safely where people wouldn’t have to journey into the jungle, another project taught school children how to wash their hands. Now back in the UK, in the face of COVID-19, it has become even more clear how important and life saving projects like these can be.

The gappers

“Going to Cambodia was really life changing for me, I saw how the Catholic community of England and Wales, by supporting the work of CAFOD, does really make a difference to so many people’s lives around the world.” Hugh Cafferky, current participant of Step into the Gap. “We were so blessed to be able to spend time with the communities that CAFOD works with and to learn about their lives as well as the difference chicken rearing and other projects can make.”

As well as this 3 week visit to CAFOD’s partners, the gappers spend their year in placements including youth retreat centres, university and school chaplaincies where they develop leadership skills and share their passion for social justice with the wider community. It offers young adults between 18 and 30, the opportunity to gain new experience and inspire a generation of people to act for the poorest and most marginalised.

planting lettuces in Cambodia

planting lettuces in Cambodia

Now back in the UK, the gappers were hoping to return to their placements and share the stories and lessons they learnt in Cambodia but with the lock down, the gappers are coming up with alternative ways to share about their experience! Two of the participants would love you to join their interactive webinar: Cambodia and Step into the Gap on 30th April. You can register close to the time on CAFOD’s website https://cafod.org.uk/Volunteer/Online-talks.

There are still placements available for September, so if you are between 18-30 and want to inspire others to create a fairer and more just world, then visit www.cafod.org.uk/gapyear. As part of the programme you will have the opportunity to see the work of CAFOD first hand for 3 weeks and spend the year in one of our UK placements.

 

Step into the Gap volunteer Hugh reflects on his trip to Cambodia …

Hugh Cafferky

Hugh Cafferky

Hugh Cafferky is our Step into the Gap volunteer based at St Cassian’s retreat centre in Kintbury Berkshire.  He reflects on is recent trip to visit CAFOD projects in Cambodia..

“Since returning to the UK from Cambodia, life has significantly changed and a new reality has been evolving. I seemed to have gone from one reality to another and it is in this instance that time seems to be standing still. I feel so close and connected to my experiences in Cambodia more than ever. During this time of uncertainty, we may be finding it extremely hard and are having have our own reality checks and culture shocks as we aren’t able to do simple things like we could before.

It has become clearer to me that we are one world, that we are waking up more and more to our common home and that we must be stewards and care for the earth. For me, it shows that we are guests on the earth, our home is our responsibility and we all have a role to play.

Watering the plants

Watering the plants

 

It only feels like yesterday I was in Cambodia, I look back and know that I was fortunate to go at the time I did, to visit CAFOD partners, COCD (Cambodian Organisation for Children and Development) and KBO (Karuna Battambang Organization). I know that the partners’ projects and programmes that CAFOD supports are incredibly vital even in this unprecedented time. Upon reflection, when getting involved in WASH projects with children in Tam Por Primary School in the Pursat province, personal hygiene such as simply washing your hands which has become an even more frequent ritual, are a crucial life skill but in the current situation it has a gravity that puts so many things into perspective, these projects are lifesaving and has been in the forefront of my mind.

Hugh with some of the other gappers

Hugh with some of the other gappers

Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’’ has become unbelievable evident to me in so many different ways not only overseas at KBO’s wonderful CROAP centre but also here in the UK. In Cambodia I was blessed to visit communities’ farms, to experience their ways of sustainable agriculture, their unique ways of farming, looking after their livestock and their plants and vegetables, their stewardship and sufficiency in order to care for their families. This inspires me. I was also able to help the farmers in their routines in planting, watering and making compost, necessary for their lives and their loved ones. At this time, it feels like a paradox at St. Cassian’s to be able to go outside and help garden with one of the De La Salle brothers, to help plant but in a completely different way.  I notice the fragility of life, now and in Cambodia. I am anxious and worried for the communities and CAFOD partners that I had the privilege to meet. However, CAFOD and putting our faith into action gives me hope in this time of hardship and doubt, as it gives life to our brothers and sisters. Echoing the words of Pope Francis, that during this storm, it is ‘uncovering once more that common belonging, of which cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.’

hugh

 

In this time of separation, isolation and being physically apart from our communities may we remain ever united and together as one global community. Yet this a new reality for us, may we draw close to each other, guide one another, bring light, kindness and love to those we know and those on our online community. Let us not forget the needs of our world. Change is a powerful thing and, we know that there is hope and life. Let us keep awakening, searching and reviving our faith, our humanity and our common home.

Applications for CAFOD’s Step into the Gap 2020-21 are now open

Trip to Cambodia

Trip to Cambodia

Are you aged 18-30? CAFOD offers a gap year programme called Step into the Gap. As part of the 10-month programme, you will be based in either a youth retreat centre, university chaplaincy or a secondary school chaplaincy team gaining new skills, developing as a leader and gaining work experience. It also includes a 3 week visit to a country CAFOD works in to meet with partners and communities. Find out more information including how to apply at www.cafod.org.uk/gapyear

Hugh Cafferky

Hugh Cafferky

St Cassians Retreat centre in Kintbury Berkshire is where our Portsmouth Diocesan gapper will be based . Hugh our gapper this year visited Cambodia with the other gappers and  here is a blog about their experiences.