Lent in a Tent

A Dorset chaplain slept in a tent for six weeks,
the entirety of Lent, in solidarity with refugees.

Lu Worrall and her tent

While most people give up chocolate or alcohol for Lent,  Lu Worrall gave up her creature comforts, spending 40 nights in a tent in her garden.

The mother-of-four spent six weeks in the cold outdoors where this year, night temperatures in March dipped to 1 degrees. She also works as a lay Chaplin at Leweston School in Dorset.

Lu said before she started her cavas fast:

“The one thing I LOVE is sleep and that seems distinctly threatened by exposure to the elements,”

“I have four daughters who are older now, but even when they were little and camping seemed a good idea, living under canvas always seemed something of a test for me.”

“I have had numerous offers of the best torches, bedding, mattress – which, with difficulty, I’m trying to resist!”

In order to make her experience as authentic as possible, during her nights camping in the tent, Lu forgo all luxuries.

After her first night in the tent, she said:

“Gosh it was windy last night! Most strikingly, I found I was a bit lonely, a bit cold and a bit scared, which I didn’t expect; that was all knowing that I had a house I could run into and more layers than you could imagine. It was sobering as I thought of the displaced refugees who have little to comfort them.”

After less than a week in the tent, disaster struck when strong winds made her temporary accommodation collapse in the middle of the night.

Collapsed tent due to strong winds durring the night.

When asked why she chose this challenge she expressed how, after seeing the plight of the Syrian children, as a mother she felt she had to act.

“I feel I have so much to be grateful for; warmth, clothing, food, education and a place of safety.”

“I was appalled by the atrocities, poverty and injustice of the most vulnerable in Syria and I felt called to respond,” said Lu. “I want to stand in solidarity with those, especially children, who have little or no access to the fundamental things that every child has a right to.”

UN Refugee Agency figures show that 65 million have been forced from their homes worldwide – the equivalent of the population of the UK.

Of those, there are around 4.9 million Syrian refugees and around 6.1 million people are displaced within Syria. Half of those affected are children.

She decorated the inside of her tent with photos of refugees.

All the sponsorship money raised from Lu’s challenge has gone directly CAFOD’s vital refugee work, which has been assisting people affected by the Syrian crisis since the war began in 2011.

The charity’s partner in Greece, Caritas Hellas, is helping to provide emergency assistance alongside social services including lessons, activities and schooling for children and assistance with referrals to legal, medical and psychosocial support.

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Giovanna Reda, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes for Asia, Middle East and Latin America, said:

“There is now less attention being paid to the refugee crisis, although the number of people fleeing their homes in Syria and nearby countries remains extremely high.”

This winter, the situation for refugees deteriorated as Lu described:

“Heavy snowfalls this winter threatens refugees’ lives as they struggle to live in makeshift shelters made with blocks, plastic sheets and tin.”

“Sleeping in my factory-made tent for 40 nights didn’t come close to the discomfort experienced by the families and children who have been displaced in Syria whose tents are their homes, but it helped me to stand in solidarity with them”.

Devon Volunteers organise fantastic Lent Lunch

The Lent Appeal will help girls like Proscovia in Uganda have access to clean water.

The Lent Appeal will help girls like Proscovia in Uganda have access to clean water.

Parishioners from all over Devon have gathered as a community this Lent to fundraise for CAFOD’s Lent appeal. James Ronan tells us about his parish Lent lunch and his experiences volunteering with CAFOD.

The Lenten lunch took place on 10 March at 12 Noon at Our Lady of the Assumption and St Mary Magdalene Church Tavistock, West Devon. Many parishioners got involved and it was a great fundraising event.

James Ronan, Parish Contact at St Mary Magdalene said:

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Torquay Volunteer Skydives for Lent Appeal

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Brian getting ready for his Skydive

The Lent Fast Day appeal began in the 1960s and from humble beginnings, the annual appeal was born. There have been lots of events going on across the Plymouth diocese to raise money for the Lent campaign to ‘turn on the taps’ and provide clean and safe water across the world.

The events have ranged from Lent Lunches to some more adventurous fundraising events. Brian Bailey from Torquay is planning a 15,000ft skydive for his seventieth birthday to raise money for the Lent appeal.

On April 9, Brian is planning to celebrate his seventieth birthday with a charity skydive to raise money for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal. In an added boost, his fundraising efforts will be doubled by the UK Government’s Department for International Development up until May.

Donate to CAFOD’s Lent appeal

Brian has been volunteering for CAFOD for many years and alongside his wife Teresa, they help to lead their parish CAFOD group in their church in Abbey Road, Torquay. Brian has already received support from his parish, the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and the school, Queensway R.C. Primary School.

I was lucky enough to speak to Brain about his birthday skydive, fundraising and volunteering: Continue reading