Much of our work at CAFOD relies on dedicated volunteers to voice the stories of CAFOD in their local communities and inspire parishioners to become supporters. Ann Hamilton, has been the Parish volunteer at St Anthony of Padua Church, Rye, and recently spoke about how her personal commitment to CAFOD transformed into her current role in Parish life as a CAFOD volunteer.
I have been involved with CAFOD for a very, very, long time but it is only in the past few years, that everything has been made official. In some ways, we are an odd parish, and volunteering is not really that high profile but at the time, there really wasn’t anyone else who was prepared to do it so I decided that it should be me.
Getting involved with CAFOD
My personal involvement with CAFOD began over forty years ago; I had been working in Nigeria at the High Commission, and being in the High Commission, one wasn’t doing missionary work out in the countryside but you still got a sense of what was going on.
It was when I came back, that I became committed to CAFOD on a personal level. It had always been in the background but coming back brought it to the foreground of my mind.
One of my most memorable moments with CAFOD was when I attended a Climate March six years ago [the march was called the Wave, and over 50,000 people travelled to London to lobby the government before the Copenhagen climate conference]. I was so impressed by the range of people who were involved, retired people like me, young, old, people of all races and religions. I remember talking to one young woman as we were entering Trafalgar square; she had joined the march whilst she was on her lunch hour from work. I was so impressed that she came to show her commitment in that short time.
CAFOD in communities
When I talk to people about CAFOD and what makes CAFOD stand out for me is the fact that in emergencies and their projects, they use people who are already on the ground and do not send people who will rush in and will then rush out again. CAFOD really uses and works with people who belong in the places where they are seeking to bring help.
St Anthony of Padua is a small parish but the response is so good. One thing I will say, because I am encouraged by it: our parish contributions on Fast Day’s had been declining but since I have had the opportunity to give a short talk before the Fast Day, they have gone right back up.
People have such a willingness but there are so many demands and absolutely understandable preoccupations. It is easy to just forget about things. What I have found enormously encouraging is that little prod, and people really do respond; it is wonderful.
I am constantly inspired by seeing how people live their lives, I see such beautiful instances of people who live their lives in beautiful ways, not necessarily Catholic, or Christian, just the goodness of people.
Martin, CPC for CAFOD, adds ‘It’s people like Ann who are what makes CAFOD what we are. Ann’s support, dedication and joyful enthusiasm are such a blessing to us and the way she gently inspires her community to lend their support makes so much possible throughout the world. We would like to thank Ann most sincerely for all she has done and continues to do for us and countless people who live in poverty throughout the world.
If you feel you may be able to donate a little time to help us in our work then do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01483 898 866.