Madeline looks back on her Gap year with CAFOD

We’re now in the last month of my year on CAFOD’s Step into the Gap Programme, and what a year it’s been! From school visits to vegetable quizzes, prayer breakfasts in Leeds to sitting around a fire in Moroto, Uganda, not many can claim that their last year has been so varied!

Madeline Woods with Nicole, Clementina in Uganda

Nicole, Clementina and myself. Clementina is a midwife in a health centre which is supported by CAFOD in Moroto, Uganda. She gives everything she can to her community without a second thought, including ripping up her own bedsheets to make baby blankets!

I have had so many opportunities this year that I never would have had otherwise. My trip to Uganda is the obvious big one, and the things I saw, experienced and learned on that trip will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life. I have been on BBC Radio Leeds 3 times, something which this time last year would have been unimaginable. I have stood in front of a room of 180 Year 7s and spoken about CAFOD without so much as a quiver in my voice, which again, a year ago, would have had me a nervous wreck. I’ve met so many incredible people through CAFOD and through my placement at Leeds Trinity University, and am certain that I have made friends for life. My office at my placement is right next to a beautiful Chapel, too, meaning that whenever I fancy, I can pop in and take some time to sit in the quiet. My faith has developed so much from this, from having conversations with the Chaplaincy team and experiencing retreat opportunities like Youth 2000, and I am going to be leaving this role a more well-rounded and confident person.

Madeline Woods with LTU hannah and Sisters thumbs up and recycle coffee cups

Myself, Hannah (the Chaplain at Leeds Trinity), Sister Catherine Mary and Sister Thérèse at Tea on the Landing, celebrating the launch of our recyclable cups and adding our thumbs-ups to the banner for the Climate Change Lobby on June 26th.

I would like to think that I’m not the only person who has benefitted from my year as a CAFOD Gapper, as I have spoken to many people about the work that CAFOD do and what they can do to make their world a better place – with a month left to go, the official number of people I have spoken to about CAFOD is at over 1,000!

 

I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone I have met throughout the last year. Leeds Trinity University Chaplaincy, everyone at Trinity, my fellow gappers, CAFOD Leeds, broader CAFOD staff and volunteers… the list goes on!

 

On to the next adventure…

Click the link if you would like to know more about CAFOD’s gap year programme Step into the Gap or call (0113) 275 9302 to speak to Bronagh.

St John Fisher’s Dewsbury welcome Gapper Madeline after her Uganda trip

St John Fisher Catholic Secondary school in Dewsbury last week welcomed our Step into the Gap volunteer Madeline to their school for an all day visit.

The school’s Lay Chaplin Angela Eddie said “We were delighted to welcome CAFOD Gap student Madeleine Woods last week. Madeleine who is just back from Uganda led workshops on the theme of ‘Life Without Taps’ to year 7  and year 8 students. The students embraced the opportunity to experience the way of life for many living in a village with one tap through interactive games, followed with discussion and reflections.”

sophie at St John Fisher in Dewsbury faith day

Later in the day, Madeline spent time with the school’s dedicated ‘Faith In Action Team’ who embraced a tailored session around Madeleine’s experience in Uganda and the Faith in Action she witnessed.

Angela explained “The workshop was followed with presentation skills training to help the Faith in Action team to deliver Collective Worship to forms during Lent”

If you would like Madeline to come to your school, please get in touch leeds@cafod.org.uk or call (0113) 274 2772

Click here to download the Leader’s Guide for Life without Taps

If you would like to apply to become a Step into the Gap volunteer, click here to find out how you too could follow in Madeline’s footsteps and help to change the systems and structures that cause poverty

Uganda Trip for our Gapper: Bon Voyage Madeline

Our Gapper Madeline will be heading off to Uganda this weekend as part of her ‘Step into the Gap’ year of volunteering with CAFOD. Her placement is hosted 4 days per week by our partner Leeds Trinity University Chaplaincy and on a Friday, Madeline supports our schools and parish work across the Diocese of Leeds.

We asked Madeline, how she is feeling and what she is thinking about just before she sets off.

madeline before uganda trip coffee on the landing

The Chaplaincy team at LTU share a cuppa with Madeline before she departs to Uganda

“My main hope for my trip to Uganda is in what I can bring back to the UK. I will have a unique opportunity which will allow me to learn not just stories, but about the lives of those almost 6,000 miles away. I will then be able to share this snapshot of life with others when I return to the UK, hopefully encouraging people to continue their amazing support of CAFOD.

There is often a divide between prayer and service for a lot of Catholics, myself included. Prayer is one thing, which in my experience is usually quiet and often alone. Service is something entirely different, and focuses on relationships with people rather than a relationship with God. I feel that my time in Uganda will help to change this view. I will be seeing people live their faith, helping others as a service not just to humanity and the world, but also God. I am hoping to share this change in view, as I feel it is important that the connection is made between our relationships with others and our relationship with God.

“It is true that the primacy belongs to our relationship with God, but we cannot forget that the ultimate criterion on which our lives will be judged is what we have done for others.” Gaudete et Exsultate; Pope Francis 2018

 

When I return from Uganda, I am going to be running a workshop on this topic at Youth 2000 at Leeds Trinity University. In Uganda I will be able to see people truly living their faith, and really living the values set out in the Bible. I will be a living link between the communities in Uganda and those in the UK. I am taking messages of hope to Uganda from those in Leeds, both at schools and at the university. I hope to also bring messages back from those being supported by CAFOD overseas.

I do, of course, also have many hopes for the time I spend in Uganda. I hope to experience a culture hugely different to my own, meet some incredible people and truly get to know the work CAFOD and partners do.

If you would like to book Madeline for a talk or a workshop at your parish or school, please let us know leeds@cafod.org.uk or call (0113) 275 9302

For more information on our ‘Step into the Gap’ programme take a look here