James Ronan, who visited Cambodia on CAFOD’s Step into the Gap, talks about how he has been sharing his experiences of seeing CAFOD’s work in Cambodia.
Since returning from Cambodia I have had the privilege of being able to share the important stories of the people we spent time with on the visit overseas. I have been giving talks and sharing my experiences of CAFOD’s work with students, staff and parishioners in my placement at St Mary’s Catholic Academy and the parish of St John Vianney in Blackpool and across the country. It has been an amazing opportunity sharing the monumental work achieved in Cambodia in such a short space of time only made possible through the Catholic communities support here in England and Wales through CAFOD.
Both myself and fellow gapper Hannah (who went to Ethiopia) had the opportunity to share on the 4th April about our overseas visits at a parish evening at St John Vianney, which was attended by nineteen people. I shared the stories of the Cambodian communities we met in Ou Breus village and how through CAFOD and its partners support the community now has better access to clean safe drinking water through the development of a water pump. For the presentation evening for parishioners I cooked a Cambodian dessert called Kuay Kamuan (Bananas cooked in Coconut milk) and Hannah cooked Ethiopian spinach which went down really well.
Most recently I travelled back down to Devon where I am originally from to share the Step into the Gap experience with CAFOD Plymouth School Volunteers at their training day in Honiton. It was great to catch up with CAFOD staff members Simon Giarchi and David Brinn about my work and be able to talk to school volunteers about seeing CAFOD’s work first hand and how through not only parishes but schools engaging in CAFOD fundraising, change has been achieved.
A few days after my visit in Honiton I gave a presentation on Sunday after Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption & St Mary Magdalene in Tavistock (my old parish church) which was attended by over sixty parishioners. Again this presentation was really well received and raised over £100 for CAFOD in donations. It was nice to go back to the parish where previously I had so much CAFOD input (was previously the CAFOD parish contact and a volunteer for CAFOD Plymouth in my time as a parishioner).
The week after I travelled over to Somerset where I was warmly welcomed by the parish of St Thomas More in Bradford on Avon to share the stories of the Cambodian people I met and to kick start the parish in getting involved in CAFOD’s work.
On Sunday the 21st of May I attended Mass at the parish and was warmly welcomed by the whole congregation. I shared a little about my placement at St Mary’s, my gap year experience and the importance of CAFOD’s work in Cambodia. I then invited parishioners to listen to my talk after Mass which was in the Hub next door, it was great to see such enthusiasm from the parish about getting involved in CAFOD’s work. Around twenty parishioners attended the presentation after Mass where there was tea, coffee and cake with all donations going towards CAFOD’s work overseas. In total the parish raised £200 for CAFOD from my sharing of CAFOD’s work in Cambodia which was a fantastic achievement and it is hoped now that the parish will go on to fund-raise and get more involved in CAFOD’s work.
It has been great to share the first hand experiences of CAFOD’s and its partners with others and the important stories of the Cambodian people I met and spent time with in Cambodia. I am really looking forward to the last few months in my placement in Blackpool working at St Mary’s getting students involved in CAFOD’s work.