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

Rebuilding Justice

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Date:   Wednesday 15th July 2015

Time:   7pm — 8.30pm

Venue: Wheeler Hall, Leeds Cathedral Centre,

             Saint Anne Street, Leeds LS2 8BE

CAFOD’s Partner Fr Edwin Gariguez, the Executive Secretary of NASSA (Caritas Philippines), will speak about his work and the challenges faced in The Philippines due to climate change.

This is an opportunity to discover how your support has helped people to rebuild and recover after Typhoon Haiyan, and to hear about the challenges still faced by the people of The Philippines.

You can book a place online at:  http://www.cafod.org.uk/Events/Rebuilding-Justice-event2 Or via the CAFOD Leeds Office Tel : 0113 275 9302 email: leeds@cafod.org.uk

To help us plan please book your place by Monday 6th July.

Celebrating 40 Years of the Suzy Fund

CAFOD was delighted to join the Suzy Fund at a special event to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The Suzy fund was set up in 1975 by a group of parishioners of St Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Wakefield, who reacted with outrage to the image of a young girl dying of starvation on a rubbish dump in Ethiopia and wanted to do something practical to help. Since they began they have raised an outstanding £800,000 which has been donated to a number of international development charities including CAFOD.

CAFOD was one of five charities participating at the event, which brought together over 60 parishioners and long-standing supporters of the Suzy Fund. The evening included a simple soup supper, music, speakers from the chosen charities and a presentation in recognition of the dedication and hard work of Brian Hazell who has led the Suzy Fund since the beginning.

The Suzy Fund is an inspiring example of the real difference a group of committed CAFOD supporters can make in the lives of men, women and children in the developing world. Their dedicated support over the years is so valuable to CAFOD, and we know that this support has helped lots of disadvantaged families to find a way out of poverty. We were thrilled to be part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.

Even after all these years the Suzy Fund still manage to amaze us with their generosity – at the event they presented CAFOD with a cheque for £1,000. Thank you to all at the Suzy Fund!