Making our voices heard

Fr Nicholas James with members of the liveSimply group, Lynne, Lis, Elizabeth, Kim and Lynne

The July liveSimply meeting at St Mary’s RC Church in Monmouth saw members kick off their parish involvement with CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign. 

Parish priest, Fr Nick James, lead from the front, being the first person to sign a card. 

The campaign card itself is being sent to Melanie Robinson, UK Executive director at the World Bank petitioning her to stay true to the UK’s commitment to tackling poverty and climate change by supporting access to renewable, safe, reliable and affordable energy for the poorest communities. 

Fr Nick kindly invited the liveSimply group to speak after the three weekend Masses in Monmouth and Ross so that parishioners would get a bit more detail about why CAFOD was asking people get involved in their Power to Be campaign.

Parishioners from St Mary’s Monmouth completing campaign cards after Mass – thank you to Lis and Mary Teiser

The campaign helps to raise awareness about how local, renewable energy can help families to lift themselves out of poverty, without harming the world we share.

Nearly 90 per cent of people without electricity live in villages. It can be expensive and difficult to extend the main grid to homes, schools and clinics in rural areas.

The cheapest, fastest, and most efficient solution is usually to provide mini-grids powered by renewables.

The parishes heard how the lack of access to electricity can prevent young people from achieving their dreams.  No electricity often means no education.  And every child has dreams.  My particular dream was of being a dancer – that didn’t happen because of a lack of opportunity – it was because my talents lay elsewhere, sadly.

liveSimply group members collecting signatures after Mass in Ross-on-Wye – thank you to Claire, Kim, Erica and Lynne

Many of us use electricity every day without even thinking about it.  Yet really does have the power to help children around the world, break free from poverty.  How?

Parishioners heard Veronica’s story.  Veronica lives in Kenya and loves going to school, something her father didn’t have the opportunity to do.  Her family can’t afford electricity at home, so she has to use a paraffin lamp to provide the light needed to study. But burning oil for hours made her cough and she found it hard to concentrate.  Her ill health was making her hopes of finishing school, a distant dream

But now, things have changed, and it’s all down to the power of the sun – because solar panels have been fitted on the roof of her school, which brings light into her classroom. She can now go to evening classes and achieve the grades she deserves.  She also has a solar lamp at home to help her with her studies. 

All around the world, local, renewable energy is transforming the lives of the poorest communities. It also means that clinics can keep vaccines cold, farmers can irrigate crops and families can drink clean water.

Yet one in six people are still living without electricity.

The parishioners heard that the UK helps fund energy projects in poor countries overseas to help tackle poverty. The biggest UK channel of funding for energy access for poor communities is through the World Bank.

The World Bank has a mission to end poverty around the world.

Power to Be display outside church

Yet currently it is spending only a tiny proportion of its energy spending – less than 3% -on local, renewable energy – which we know benefits the poorest communities.

So parishioners were asked to sign a card after Mass, which many people were happy to do.  Thank you for your support!

Over 13,000 signatures have been collected by CAFOD to date – which is brilliant but we are hoping that many more parishes around the Archdiocese will also respond and organise their own parish card signing.

Siblings! Angela Leslie, St Peter’s parish, Gloucester and Helena Gammond from St Joseph’s parish, Port Talbot, add their signatures to the Power to Be campaign

Please get in touch if you would like some support to organise your own Power to Be parish event. There are free posters and campaign cards available to order.

Or you can sign the petition online!

From Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’:

For poor countries, the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people.

At the same time, they need to acknowledge the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population and to combat corruption more effectively.

They are likewise bound to develop less polluting forms of energy production, but to do so they require the help of countries which have experienced great growth at the cost of the ongoing pollution of the planet.

Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources, but in a way which respects their concrete situations, since “the compatibility of [infrastructures] with the context for which they have been designed is not always adequately assessed”.[128]

The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change. In any event, these are primarily ethical decisions, rooted in solidarity between all peoples.


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