Building a bridge from a place of suffering to a better world

Mike Weaver, Our Lady and St Kenelm Parish, Halesowen

We were delighted to welcome Thom Flint and Matt Neville from CAFOD to our parish on 10th February to explain CAFOD’s work in Zimbabwe and the importance of parishes in supporting the Lenten Family Fast Day on 23rd February.

This Lent, Family Fast Day focuses on the work CAFOD’s partners are doing to fight hunger and malnutrition in Zimbabwe. Donations this year are doubly important. The government will double donations throughout Lent, up to a total value of £5 million.

Thom told us about a mother, Marian, and her two sons who live in Zimbabwe. The older son, Tawanda, lived his childhood without enough to eat. Marian used to leave him in the morning to find work. She would return hours later to find him sitting in the same place. “I didn’t have enough food to give him,” she said. “He hadn’t played, or even walked. It was very painful to see him like that.”

When Tawanda was a teenager, Marian had another son, Svondo. He was brought up on fresh vegetables, beans and peanut butter. Now seven years old, Svondo is growing healthy and strong. He plays with his friends. He’s happy. These two brothers both had dreams. But one was prevented from reaching his God-given potential.

Thom explained that the difference between these two boys is the help CAFOD was able to give thanks to the financial support from Family Fast Days, monthly subscriptions and legacies. CAFOD helped to give Marian some seeds. Thom emphasised she did the rest. She worked hard month after month to grow a vegetable garden and she didn’t stop until it flourished. So unlike Tawanda, Svondo didn’t go hungry. But no child should have to go hungry. Millions of children around the world die each day from malnutrition.

Matt went on to explain the many ways it is possible to support CAFOD – prayer, regular financial support, becoming a parish volunteer and joining campaigns to influence Members of Parliament.

But, the last word is best left to those expressed by Marian “CAFOD is building a bridge from a place of suffering to a better world”.

Picture Caption: CAFOD’s Thom Flint (extreme right and front) with parishioners at Our Lady and St Kenelm, Halesowen.