As part of volunteers’ week, we spoke to two Leeds volunteers who have dedicated their time towards aid agency CAFOD’s exciting Connect2 campaign.
The scheme is built on CAFOD’s values of solidarity and partnership, where parishes in the UK are able to stand alongside communities overseas to fight against poverty and injustice.
Joe Burns visited El Salvador in 2013 on a Romero Trust Pilgrimage but was able to include a visit to Puentecitos as part of his volunteering with Connect2.
El Salvador was badly affected by a civil war which lasted over a decade from 1980 until 1992.
Joe said: “There were really good motorways in some points but there would be people armed with guns on the back of trucks which was unnerving!
“It was a really interesting and eye-opening trip, we travelled down roads which were very unstable. If you were a small farmer in those areas, it is very difficult to sell excess produce on because they struggle to get any of their stuff out to a local market.”
Joe, who is part of the CAFOD group for Our Lady of Kirkstall parish in Leeds, explained why he chose to get involved with Connect2.
He continued: “After I returned from Sri Lanka after being a volunteer there with VSO, I wanted to carry on working on development issues, which are very close to my heart.
“Connect2 really tackles core issues of development in a personal way and I would definitely recommend it.
“It draws together all the good work that CAFOD does.”
Vincent Borg also volunteers for CAFOD Leeds and his parish, St John Mary Vianney, has links with Ethiopia.
He said: “I have been a volunteer for many years and we have a weekly collection at church for CAFOD.
“When I was a schoolboy in north London I belonged to Young Christian Students, whose mantra was see, judge, act. That’s stayed with me all my life.
“For me, being a CAFOD volunteer is the ‘act’ bit of the YCS mantra and I am truly blessed to be a part of their volunteering community.”