Meet CAFOD Volunteer Thereza

During ‘National Volunteers’ Week’, we wanted to share a snapshot story about one of our wonderful volunteers in the Arundel and Brighton Diocese.

We recently interviewed CAFOD Parish and School Volunteer Thereza from St Dunstan’s Parish, Woking about her life and why she volunteers for CAFOD. Thereza has supported CAFOD for many years and has officially volunteered for us for over a year. She is a retired engineer.

How have you been involved with CAFOD?

I have known about CAFOD for over 40 years and have paid a monthly direct debit to CAFOD. For the last year since retirement, I am volunteering as a School Volunteer and Parish Volunteer. Previously, I supported CAFOD remotely by responding to CAFOD’s emergency appeals.

Do you have an affinity with a certain country and if you do, what is the connection?

I grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai), although my parents came from Goa where the family home remains. My maiden name is Lobo, which means wolf in Portuguese, and since my first name is Thereza (which means harvester of corn), you could say that I am a corny wolf!

From the age of ten, I had decided to be an engineer after watching the workmen carry out wiring and other repairs on our flat in Bombay.

What first attracted you to CAFOD?

I am a firm believer in the saying that “every little bit helps” and there are many ways to make a difference. I love helping charities at a time when there is so much need in the world. I have recently teamed up with Audra (Parish Volunteer) to help organise the various activities involved in being one of the CAFOD reps for the Parish.

Although organising events is not something previously I had much experience of, I have presented to many schools on the subject of engineering as part of my role as ‘Schools Ambassador’ at BAE Systems (previously British Aerospace).

Was there a particular story or experience you heard that inspired you?

I was first interested in supporting Sightsavers after my mother had cataract operations in the early 1960s. Later I started raising money (£19.5k) by running two tuckshops at my workplace to build two houses in India, Sightsavers’ mobile screening camps and funding for emergency disasters etc. I was later invited by Sightsavers to meet Joanna Lumley, Dennis Lawson and his sister Carol (who is Ewan McGregor’s mother) in London.

Tell me about what you’re doing for CAFOD today

I have been involved with the Thursday Club within my church since my retirement 6 years ago. This has involved arranging speakers from different organisations to come to speak about such things as butterflies, Victorian christmases, chocolate making etc. Monies raised from these talks have been shared among our chosen charities including CAFOD. I have supported fundraising for CAFOD such as cake sales, organised Fast Day appeals, spoken at our Creation Mass celebrations, helped with obtaining seed packets kindly donated from Wisley for distribution, supported the parish volunteer with christmas fairs, international Masses, and Petitions to the Prime Minister which involved our local MP, Jonathan Lord. I have also helped to distribute CAFOD World Gift magazines and encouraged parishioners to buy World Gifts.

Recently, I started conducting workshops in schools which has unfortunately been interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Why is what you’re doing today important?

I like the idea that CAFOD aims to provide for sustainable projects for all faiths in overseas locations so that the local people can become independent, despite floods etc., be they as a result of climate change or natural disasters.

If you were to meet someone who has been supported by a CAFOD project, what would you ask them?

Would you encourage and help your friends and neighbours to follow in your footsteps?

How has your faith motivated you?

I believe that every human being should be given a helping hand including refugees and other migrants amongst the disadvantaged.

What challenges have you faced in your life and how have you overcome them?

I studied science and had to catch up with physics, chemistry and biology within eight months, in order to sit my O Level general science exam. However, when I told my head­mistress and mother that I wanted to become an engineer, they both considered it completely “un-lady like”. So instead I went on to study applied physics at university where I was the only female in the year. I soon discovered employment opportunities in the industry were unavailable to me as employers quite openly told me that they would not employ women because they went on to get married and have children! Fortunately, things have changed, although positive discrimination also has its negative connotations. I have had to constantly tell line managers that I did not want to accept a promotion simply because I was a woman, but because they thought I was the best person for the post.

I hope that I can inspire women to become scientists and to strive for equality.

We found Thereza to be an inspirational, resilient woman and she so geneously gives of her time to support Audra in her parish as CAFOD Volunteer. She is also inspiring others in her community to volunteer for CAFOD too. Thank you Thereza for all that you do to support CAFOD.

If you are interested in volunteering for CAFOD have a look at our website and see if any of the roles would interest you. CAFOD volunteers are the bloodstream of CAFOD.

WE NEED YOU. Find out more by clicking the link below.

Fundraising concert for CAFOD at St John’s Church in Farncombe

Julian collecting on behalf CAFOD after the event

Big congratulations to CAFOD parish volunteers at St Edmund’s Parish, Godalming and Julian Lewry Farncombe Music for organising a live music concert at John’s Church in Farncombe and raising over £1000 for CAFOD.

The event took place last Saturday night, 7th March, where the talented band Any Colour You Like performed live for over 170 people at St. John’s Church in Farncombe. The attendees enjoyed the great live music of Pink Floyd including classic tracks from the albums: Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall.

CAFODAB appreciates all the efforts and commitments to raise valuable funds which will help to reach out to people living in poverty around the world with practical help, whatever their religion or culture.

Thank you to Julian and Jo for organising and promoting the event and ‘Any Colour You Like’ for so generously playing in aid of CAFOD.

Please visit for more ideas and make your fundraising event a great success.

Young Leaders meet at St Paul’s College, Burgess Hill for the second training day

At CAFOD we recognise that young people can make a huge difference, which is why we want to equip senior students to be Young Leaders  in their local and global communities. CAFOD’s Young Leadership Programme is designed for Sixth Formers and provides them with training to develop leadership skills.

On Thursday 22 January, St Paul’s Catholic College in Burgess Hill kindly hosted CAFOD’s second training day for  Young Leaders. We were given a warm welcome by Headteacher Rob Carter and School Chaplain Christian Nobleza. The day was ably led by CAFOD’s Sinead Callaghan, Young Leadership Coordinator. There were over forty sixth former attendees from schools across Arundel and Brighton including: St Peter’s Catholic School Guildford, Salesian College Chertsey, Cardinal Newman School Hove, St Paul’s Catholic College Burgess Hill and St Wilfrid’s Catholic School Crawley.

Students were firstly given the opportunity to feedback on leadership projects from last term. I was amazed at how brilliantly these young people engaged with one another and enthusiastically shared what they had done previously; such as preparing a quiz on human rights defenders, creating a display board on human rights defenders to raise awareness, speaking to Yr.7s on the impact of climate change, leading CAFOD assemblies and liturgies to primary and younger secondary students within their own schools, organising charity cake sales and promoting world gifts. Students from one school even gave a detailed explanation on how they had improved the school wide recycling system – through research, planning and implementation.   

The day involved prayer, reflection, icebreakers, a session understanding CAFOD’s  values  whilst motivating listeners to become engaged in CAFOD projects to work for a fairer more just world. The students identified examples of ‘good communication’ after watching Simon Sinek’s video which emphasised; ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,’ and were asked to link this concept for speaking up for a more just world.  After lunch, they watched a Lent video about Human Rights Defenders, examined some case studies and matched them to some sustainable development goals. Later they watched a football fundraiser video and were challenged to plan a football fund raising event for Lent within their own schools.

My thanks to Sinead Callaghan for leading the day, Christian Nobleza and St Paul’s students and staff for hosting the event, staff and chaplains from the schools who supported the day; but most of all, to the Young Leaders 2019-2020. You are an inspiration!

There certainly is HOPE for the future when you see the commitment, compassion, energy, drive and creativity of these young people empowered to make a difference. We look forward to seeing you all again for the final day in April.