Two Blackpool chaplaincy workers have returned from life-changing trips to developing countries, where they visited projects supporting families to build better future.
Katy Lowrey arrived home to North Shore, from Zimbabwe last month, after visiting and working with communities supported by the Catholic aid agency CAFOD.
The charity has worked with partners in Zimbabwe for more than 30 years, supporting people living with HIV and AIDS – building and repairing water facilities, and providing vulnerable families with farming skills and tools.
The 19-year-old, who is currently undertaking a gap year with CAFOD working in the chaplaincy team at St Mary’s College, Blackpool, said: “Seeing the work CAFOD do through their partners is inspiring.
“For myself, seeing the difference even something simple like a birth certificate makes is incredible, as that is something I had never thought of before.
“CAFOD funded the building of a registrar office at St Albert, which enables people to get registered so their children can go to school.
“I am privileged to have been part of the Step Into The Gap programme and to have seen this amazing work.”
Katy – who is originally from Warrington, but moved to Blackpool to carry out her volunteering work – is now planning to raise money for CAFOD’s work by taking part in Lent Lunches for the charity’s Lent appeal.
The annual fundraising campaign is this year focused on providing people in some of the world’s poorest communities with access to clean water, as well as training in sanitation and the building of latrines. In an added boost, Katy’s fundraising efforts for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal will be doubled by the UK Government’s Department for International Development until May. Katy has been joined in Blackpool by fellow 19-year-old Michelle Udoh, who moved from Bristol to the resort to work at St Mary’s.
The young women’s work at the school involves delivering assemblies, working with and mentoring students – in groups and individually, and going on retreats.
Michelle recently visited Peru and worked with vulnerable communities, supported by CAFOD.
She said: “When we visited Warmi Huafi in the first week, it was really eye-opening. Warmi Huafi means women health in Quechua which is an indigenous language in Peru.
“We met the children there, they are all aware of their rights and what they are entitled to. It was great to see the young children being empowered by knowing their rights and having safe places for them to play and learn.
“I think what has been inspiring is seeing how CAFOD is helping communities in practical ways, to make a change in their lives and communities. It is empowering for them, as it gives them dignity.”
Michelle will be working with Katy and speaking at parishes for the charity’s Lent appeal.
Donate to the Lent Appeal at cafod.org.uk/lent