Step into the GAP: Why partnership is the key to building change in rural communities in Cambodia

James Ronan, who is currently taking part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap, talks about why partnership is the key driver for change and how this CAFOD value is put into practice in rural communities in Cambodia.

CAFOD has seven values that inspires the work that they carry out across the world these are compassion, hope, dignity, solidarity, partnership, sustainability and stewardship. During our two and half weeks in Cambodia one of the things that particularly struck me was the sense of community and partnership in every village community we spent time with. For me partnership was a key CAFOD value that we all saw in practice over the few weeks we spent in Cambodia. Partnership comes from the call of our Christian faith to work together building the links between the communities CAFOD works with across the world, with the Catholic community here in England and Wales working together to help build God’s kingdom here on earth.

In our first week of our visit we spent time with CAFOD partner Village Support Group (VSG) working in the village of Ou Breus in Battambang. We saw the community linkages and partnerships that had already been established and took part in a committee meeting listening to the community who were putting the support of CAFOD into practice.


The village committee in Ou Breus village

 We heard how the community committee was very thankful for CAFOD’s support in their three year project “Water Saves Lives” helping to support in providing access to clean water and education in hygiene to avoid disease. Tuc Nang the community leader said to us “that he was happy and hopeful for the future livelihoods of people in the village, and that the community was very happy to have learnt water management skills and water resource management.” He ended our time spent with the committee by saying that “the community liked CAFOD’s grass roots local level approach of partnership in supporting the community over the next three years.” It was such a thankful statement, a testament about the way CAFOD works as an organisation and all the committees we met during our visit in Cambodia all said the same thing.

Find out more about Step into the Gap

In the second week we witnessed the community partnerships between CAFOD’s partner Srer Khmer and village communities. The project in these communities is socio-economic empowerment enabling women, men and children to make changes in their villages. We saw a woman’s cooking demonstration in Tipadey village supported by CAFOD, these demonstrations occur once a month in the community. The sharing of advice on using more vegetables in meals (in Cambodia many rural families do not eat the daily recommended amount of fruit and vegetables) have really helped families eat healthier. Alongside this there was also a focus on hygiene education the washing of hands before and after meals.

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The women’s cooking demonstration in Tipadey village

In Tipadey village I also had the privilege of meeting one of the members of CAFOD’s partnership programme Connect 2, Dos la and his family. Connect 2 in Cambodia is a fairly recent expansion of CAFOD’s parish partnership programme. This programme is about sharing. Sharing the monumental fundraising work conducted by parishioners in England and Wales with village communities in Cambodia and Cambodian communities sharing their stories and the impact of CAFOD’s work back with those in the UK.

The programme of Connect 2 for me encompasses all of CAFOD’s values. Compassion (through wanting to help our global brothers and sisters), hope (sharing hope for change), dignity (that we are all equal in the eyes of God), solidarity (sharing each other’s struggles), partnership (working together for change), sustainability and stewardship (remembering that the cry of the Earth is inherently linked with the cry of the poor and that we should look after the global resources entrusted to us). The people of Tipadey are very thankful for CAFOD’s support and look forward to the continuing partnerships of the future.

Find out more about Connect 2 in Cambodia

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Dos La and his family Thanking Connect 2 Parishes Ely, Camberly and Bagshot

After our two and half week’s experience of hearing from village communities and seeing them working together with CAFOD’s support, me and all the other gappers came away from Cambodia with a greater appreciation of the importance of CAFOD’s work in Cambodia and the continued need to learn from one another. Partnership is at the heart of this, a key driver to generate real positive change.

CAFOD Plymouth launches Ethiopia Food Crisis Appeal

Ethiopia Food Crisis Appeal 01 ADCS Mekele Herit-18 (2).jpgMore than 10 million people across Ethiopia are in dire need of food, clean water and basic sanitation, so CAFOD is appealing to its supporters across Plymouth for urgent funds to help.

Please donate today

The devastating food shortage has been caused by two failed rainy seasons that has led to a severe drought, fuelled by one of the strongest El Nino weather patterns recorded. CAFOD’s partners in Ethiopia have been responding to the crisis since last year, reaching people with emergency food assistance and clean water. We now appealing for £3 million to ensure that we can help the most remote communities.

Amazing Support

We have already received incredible support from the local community. Parishes in Plymouth have been building a relationship with an Ethiopian village called Sebeya for over five years. Two years ago, Abba Teum, Abba Solomon and Tamiru Legesse travelled from Ethiopia and visited Plymouth to thank and meet the people who had fundraised for their community.

Simon Giarchi who works in the Plymouth office said:

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Bishop Mark and Parishes ‘connect 2’ Ethiopian visitors

Parishes from across the Diocese of Plymouth received a special visit from our friends and partners from Ethiopia in June.

Bishop Mark with Abba Teum, Abba Solomon and Tamiru

Bishop Mark with Abba Teum, Abba Solomon and Tamiru

Abba Teum, Abba Solomon and Tamiru Legesse  came to the Diocese to thank, meet and encourage our fantastic supporters here and to deepen our connections and solidarity across the two Catholic dioceses through CAFOD.

Bishop Mark warmly welcomed our visitors who told him about CAFOD’s sustainable development work in their area. Following their meeting, Abba Teum presented Bishop Mark with two handmade gifts from Adigrat:

A Stoll made by a disabled children’s project supported by ADCS and CAFOD & a delicately engraved traditional silver Ethiopian cross, both of which represent beautifully the spirituality of our work together building the kingdom here on earth.

A Stoll made by a disabled children’s project supported by ADCS and CAFOD & a delicately engraved traditional silver Ethiopian cross.

After spending time in prayer together, Bishop Mark said

“I very much enjoyed meeting the delegation from Ethiopia in the visit facilitated by CAFOD. I was very moved to hear of the situation in their homeland and the good work which they are doing with CAFOD and other Development Agencies. It was good to spend time hearing of their experiences and praying together, about the needs of some of the poorest in our World.”

Parishes from across the Diocese support people in the Diocese of Adigrat through CAFOD’s Connect2:Ethiopia initiative which brings together parishes in England and Wales together with communities in Ethiopia and other poor countries which benefit from their fundraising.  So it was great that after meeting Bishop Mark our Ethiopian guests were able to hit the road and visit parishes across the Diocese of Plymouth:

Abba Solomon Concelebrating Mass  with Fr Gilmour in Truro Parish

Abba Solomon Concelebrating Mass with Fr Gilmour in Truro Parish


amiru, Abba Teum, Abba Solomon with Conchita & Siimon

Tamiru, Abba Teum, Abba Solomon with Conchita & Siimon

Abba Solomon with memebrs of St.  Augustine's Justice & Peace Group, St Austell

Abba Solomon with memebrs of St. Augustine’s Justice & Peace Group, St Austell

Abba Teum & Variety Show Singers  from St Joseph's & St Walburga's, Poole

Abba Teum & Variety Show Singers from St Joseph’s & St Walburga’s, Poole






Lorraine Richards our CAFOD Parish Contact in Holy Ghost Parish in Exmouth said:

“We feel very privileged that Abba Teum, Abba Solomon and Tamiru were able to come to visit us. We’ve loved receiving letters and photos from our faraway friends in Ethiopia so to finally meet some of them and hear from them in person about the families we’ve come to know and the struggles they face is amazing. Through Connect2 we really feel like we’re getting to know the families in Beira and Sebeya and how our support is making a difference to their lives.”

Our guests with Chris Wightman and Lorraine Richards in Exmouth

Our guests with Chris Wightman and Lorraine Richards in Exmouth

To make the trip even more of a success we were able to reunite Abba Teum with Deborah Fisher, the former Deputy Ambassador to Ethiopia for the UK who knew Abba Teum when she was based in the country.

Abba Teum & Deborah Fisher

Abba Teum & Deborah Fisher

Deborah was so impressed with CAFOD’s work in Ethiopia she volunteered for us when she returned to the UK – quite the affirmation of all our fantastic volunteers and supporters hard work! Let us know if you’d like Deborah to come to speak to your community and we’ll see what we can do…

Our sincere thanks go to Bishop Mark and all of the parishes for their warm welcome to our Ethiopian guests and their constant and strong support for our work.

In the words of Abba Teum

“Knowing that people understand the challenges and want to help us overcome them is immeasurable.”