4th May 2017: ‘Vivir bien’ – working with communities to shape development in Bolivia

LTU Bolivia TalkNikki Evans has worked as CAFOD’s Bolivia Programme Officer for over four and half years. A large part of her time with CAFOD has been spent living in La Paz working alongside communities and local Bolivian organisations.

She will be sharing experiences about the Andean concept of “vivir bien”, which is roughly translated as “living well”, and how organisations work with communities to ensure that they are shaping their own development in line with their own understanding of what that means.

This lecture is a free event hosted by Leeds Trinity University. BOOK HERE

NIkki in Bolivia

Nikki has also worked as international observer protecting human rights defenders in Colombia and for other international human rights organisations based in the UK. Before arriving in Bolivia completed an MA at the Peace Studies Centre in Bradford University.

Book your place on the CAFOD Annual Lecture at Leeds Trinity University today using this link: book my place

For more information contact the CAFOD Leeds Volunteer Centre on 0113 275 930 or email leeds@cafod.org.uk

Welcome Nikki to our Volunteer Centre

This is Nikki Evans, CAFOD Programme Officer for Bolivia, supporting the ten partner organisations that CAFOD works with in that country.

Nikki is part of the CAFOD Head Office team in London. As she currently lives in Saltaire, Nikki works 3 days a week in London and spend two days a week working out of the Leeds Diocese CAFOD Volunteer Centre. Nikki has met with a few volunteers informally in the Volunteer Centre over the last few months and would like to meet more people volunteering in their local parishes across the dioceses.


Nikki Evans, Bolivia Programme Manager

If you would like to meet Nikki either in your local parish or here at the Volunteer Centre, please contact leeds@cafod.org.uk or call (0113) 275 9302


Nikki writes about herself:-

“I have been living in Yorkshire for nearly a year now having moved back here from Bolivia where I spent nearly four years based in La Paz.

I first travelled and studied in Latin America in the late 90s as part of my degree and fell in love with the beautiful countryside and the people with their generous passion for music and laughter. After several years working for Christian Aid in London I moved to Colombia to work as an international observer protecting human rights defenders. I lived in a hot oil town between jungle basins and mountains, an area that has suffered decades of horrendous violence due to the Colombian civil war. Working with human rights defenders was a privilege, ordinary people doing extraordinary things to protect their communities and families at huge personal risk.

After studying for an MA at the Peace Studies Centre in Bradford University, I headed to the altitude of the Andes mountains and began working for CAFOD in Bolivia. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and at present we support ten local partner organisations who work with the most marginalised people. My work has always been bittersweet. On the one hand, there is the bleak harshness of the poverty that the communities face and on the other hand there is strength, ingenuity, solidarity and love. I am so lucky to witness those qualities shine in the communities and partner organisations that we work with and also here at home whenever I meet CAFOD’s amazing volunteers and supporters. “

Philippines priest travels to Leeds to thank CAFOD supporters

          Fr Edu1         Fr Edu2

Fr Edwin Gariguez, a Filipino priest, CAFOD partner and environmental activist, delivered an inspiring talk to CAFOD supporters at Leeds cathedral last week.

A prayer inspired by Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, opened the talk and set the scene for an evening focused on “care for our common home”.

Fr Edwin then spoke of the environmental situation in the Philippines and the many threats that the country must face as a result of climate change. Asia holds around 60% of the world’s population; it also holds the poorest of people. Fr Edwin emphasised the injustice of the situation; people living in poverty contribute the least to climate change, yet they are affected the most. He stated that environmental disasters unfairly punish the vulnerable.

Poverty and climate change are linked and we must do all we can to address the key issue for our generation. The main threats to the Philippines are instances of extreme weather, such as cyclones and typhoons. Shockingly, Fr Edwin revealed that three cyclones were headed towards the Philippines as he spoke!

Following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Fr Edwin worked closely with the Filipino people and experienced the destruction first-hand. Fr Edwin told us the official statistics, however his personal stories and photographs from directly after the typhoon, were what truly conveyed the magnitude of the disaster.

Fr Edwin is a key member of NASSA (Caritas Philippines), CAFOD’s equivalent agency in the Philippines, and so both organisations have worked extensively with each other, especially after Typhoon Haiyan. As a result of CAFOD’s campaigning and the fundraising efforts across Britain, over £3 million has been raised to help the people of the Philippines. Fr Edwin expressed his gratitude to the Leeds diocese, this fantastic amount will go towards giving people living in poverty a better life.

In addition to giving thanks, Fr Edwin spoke of some of his other environmental activism. In the 1990s, a mining corporation threatened to destroy the indigenous Filipino’s way of life, as well as pollute the local area, by opening a nickel mine. The area was the ancestral home of the Mindoro people but corporate land-grabbing was set to ruin it forevermore; Fr Edwin people realised that he must act.

Mass protesting and activism, teamed with an eleven day hunger strike, meant that the governments had to listen- the planned mine was cancelled and pollution prevented. For his efforts, Fr Edwin was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, a significant honour for an individual committed to helping others. In Fr Edwin’s own words, “Protecting the rights of the poor takes precedence over corporate greed.”

To close the evening, Fr Edwin spoke of the Filipino resiliency; their admirable ability to bounce back and remain strong when faced with adversity. He put this down to their faith and the belief that God will always help; hope is never in short supply. He also encouraged everyone to tackle climate change following Laudato Si’; Pope Francis’ message was reiterated heavily throughout the evening: we cannot afford to be apathetic, we must work together and take real action.

Fr Edwin left us with a quote: “It is better to take less, than to give more.” A powerful and relevant message from a truly inspirational figure.

Fr Edu3

Luke Hudson