Throughout Christmas I have been getting bits of things for the upcoming trip to El Salvador and Nicaragua. Mosquito repellent, light clothing, shampoo, shower gel, torches and chargers have been going round and round in my head since the CAFOD weekend in November to prepare us for the upcoming adventure. However it has become almost second nature to talk about the destinations on the visit, security precautions and vaccinations with those who ask, having given many presentations to school children about El Salvador and Nicaragua, and what I will be doing there. This has allowed me to become familiar with CAFOD’s work in the areas as well as knowledgeable about their political history.
Sophie Aulton is spending a year taking part in CAFOD’s ‘Step into the Gap’ programme and visited St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Beeston and St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Rothwell.
The 22-year-old taught St Anthony’s pupils about CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign, which focuses on how supporting cleaner, renewable forms of energy can help people living in poverty around the world.
The Year 2,3,5 and 6 students were motivated by Sophie to take action after being shown the story of Veronica, a Kenyan girl who has benefited from solar panels being fitted at her school.
The pupils then wrote their own heartfelt messages to form a sun.
Sophie said: “The children learned that not everyone in the world is as fortunate as they are, and that the funny things on top of some of their houses, solar panels, can make a huge difference to people’s lives.
“My favourite part of that visit was when one child said that to save energy he would start to play outside more instead of playing on his computer all the time!”
Sophie will spend the year campaigning, fundraising and raising awareness of CAFOD’s work at a UK placement. The volunteer will also make an international trip to El Salvador to meet vulnerable communities that the charity works alongside.
When Sophie visited St Mary’s Primary School, she taught pupils about CAFOD’s values.
She continued: “My gap year is going well so far and one of my favourite parts of it is going into schools!
“I do love making students aware of social injustice issues that they don’t usually think about.”
CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign hopes to raise awareness that currently, one in six people live without electricity globally. Local, renewable energy is usually the cheapest and most efficient way to bring power to the poorest communities.
It means that families don’t have to rely on dangerous and unhealthy energy sources such as paraffin lamps and firewood. It enables children to study after dark, nurses to keep vaccines cold and farmers to irrigate crops.
Parishioners young and old at St Mary’s Church raised money in a variety of ways before, during and after mass on Sunday October 15 for CAFOD.
Everybody was invited to bring something they are thankful for to the mass, with a particular emphasis on children. The items ranged from a tin of food to a scooter and were all displayed at mass.
A cake stall run by children from the parish was held after mass, raising an impressive £58.80. Many pupils from Holy Family High School helped out with the fundraising and a further £78.68 was raised by their ‘harvest produce’ stall.
Students from the school also brought along harvest boxes with tins and packets of food to be distributed to the local food bank and to pensioners in the area.