Swansea parishioners Lenten fundraiser helps fight hunger across the world

Gemma Salter (far left) with parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea

Swansea parishioners have hosted a ‘family fast day’ and welcomed back a Swansea woman who spoke about her time visiting communities in Zimbabwe who will be helped by this year’s CAFOD Lent fundraising campaign.

Last Friday, parishioners from Our Lady Star of the Sea in Swansea hosted a Family Fast day – a day where communities enjoy a simple meal and donate the money saved to charity- and welcomed back Gemma Salter, a local woman who now works for the international aid agency, CAFOD.

During the event, they heard Gemma speak about her experiences visiting Zimbabwe and enjoyed a simple meal to fundraise for the charity.

Gemma said: “I never pass up the chance to visit my home town! So I was delighted to be invited to speak in Swansea. But more than that, it was a chance to share some of the incredible stories I heard on my trip to Zimbabwe.”

Sue Philippart, Gemma Salter, Fr Mansel Usher and Sarah O’Kane

The community’s efforts will help fund agricultural training, education and clean water projects for communities living in poverty. And, in an added boost, all donations to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, up to £5 million, will be doubled by the UK government up until 12 May.

Gemma recalled one of the stories she shared: “Of the many stories I heard, the one that has stayed with me most is that of Martha Mungombe’s. With no access to water in her village, Martha described the gruelling task of walking up to 5km every day to collect water from the Zambezi river. And if this wasn’t challenging enough, when Martha got to the river she faced the terrible risk of being attacked by crocodiles.

“Martha told me, “We used to go as a group so we could scare the crocodile… while one of our team members was fetching water others would be throwing stones at the crocodile. We had about five people killed by crocodile.”

“Thankfully, things have changed. Using money raised by the Lent 2012 match fund appeal, CAFOD have funded a solar powered project which pipes water from the Zambezi river to local villages. This water supply has transformed Martha’s community.

“They use it cook, clean, wash clothes, and even mix materials to build toilets. But more than that, they no longer risk their lives in their daily walk for water. Martha said, “Now we can access water next to our homestead, it’s like we are dreaming.”

This Lent, the funds raised by CAFOD’s Lent appeal will reach an estimated 245,000 people in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Eritrea and enable communities to grow a better future by providing safe water, supporting communities to plant vegetable gardens and teaching them about good nutrition and hygiene.

It will also provide training for families on farming techniques to grow drought-resistant crops and for nurses and village health workers on how to spot and prevent malnutrition.

Sarah O’Kane, a parishioner at Our Lady, Star of the Sea said: “Hearing from someone who has been to Zimbabwe and who was also local to our parish brought it all the more home to us. What was very moving was how the people in the community in Zimbabwe had asked Gemma to thank people like us here in England and Wales for our support. And seeing a first-hand account of the tangible results of Fast Day donations being doubled by the UK government in 2012 and the actual impact on people’s lives was humbling. It made it real.”

CAFOD will also continue its work with communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, to tackle poverty and injustice, so that everyone can reach their full potential.

Gemma concluded: “Sharing this story in Swansea reminded me of the boundless generosity of people, so moved by stories like Martha’s that they take action. Whether it is to donate financially, or to give up their time and energy to organise a CAFOD fundraiser like the soup lunch in Swansea, people want to help make change happen.

“CAFOD’s work and success stories like Martha’s would not possible without our amazing supporters. Thank you.”

Donate to the Lent Appeal at cafod.org.uk/lent

The Soup and roll lunch at Our Lady, Star of the Sea realised £90.10 and the Family Fast day collection raised £1344.69.  Many thanks for your very generous support.  It will make double the difference!

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