How we are working to tackle coronavirus alongside Brazil’s indigenous communities

CAFOD has been working alongside local experts in Brazil for over 50 years. During the recent coronavirus pandemic, we received a video message from one of our partners, Dario Kopenawa Yanomami from Hutakara Yanomami Association.

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Brazil

He spoke about coronavirus and how it is spreading in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory. In total, there have been 44 confirmed cases and a further six are suspected to have been infected and are awaiting test results. Unfortunately, there have already been three Yanomami deaths.

“The situation we are faced with is critical,” explained Dario. “Some Yanomami are isolated within their communities. And some others have gone into the forest to protect themselves. They’re away from their communities and hopefully far from the virus that is spreading in the Yanomami Territory.

“Today, the Yanomami people are very sad and worried. But we’re going to keep fighting this important battle against coronavirus in our territories.”

Dario also wanted us to pass on his thanks to communities across the UK who have been fundraising for CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal. Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to help the people living in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory prepare for and help stop the spread of the virus.

Join our coronavirus appeal today


On the Feast of Corpus Christi on 14th June, our very first Parish Virtual Pilgrimage set off for the historic home of St Edmund, King of East Anglia and Martyr, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. This is particularly appropriate because St Edmund was not only England’s original Patron Saint but is also Patron Saint of Pandemics and for Protection against the Plague!

It is a Virtual Pilgrimage of approx. 109 miles. This means that our Parish Pilgrims from the LiveSimply group will not actually be walking the route but will be covering the miles by walking locally. Our aim is to complete the pilgrimage in 5 weeks. This will give us plenty of time to visit holy places en route and have an occasional virtual pint.

Why are we doing it? Well, for the past few years we have had very successful actual Parish pilgrimages, to Aylesford and London. That’s not really possible during Lockdown so this is virtually the only alternative. It’s also an opportunity to raise money for the CAFOD Coronavirus Appeal. Our target is £1000 over 5 weeks. In the world’s poorest countries, health care systems are not coping with the coronavirus and families are going hungry because people cannot go out to earn money. CAFOD is helping protect and improve the lives of our sisters and brothers during this global emergency by providing emergency food packages, hygiene kits and training local volunteers to carry out awareness campaigns. You can find out more by going to:  &

So how can you get involved? First by sponsoring our Virtual Pilgrimage. We will set a target of raising £200 for each of the 5 weeks. Here is the link to the justgiving page:

If we are successful in raising the money then we will record that we have completed that week’s target mileage. If we don’t raise the £200 each week, we will tell you how far we’ve got. We will keep you updated on our progress via our new Parish Facebook page at:  as well as via the Parish website & newsletter. We will share with you our reflections and photos of the virtual places we visit.

What if we don’t raise the £1000 by the end of week 5? Knowing how generous you all are, that hardly bears thinking about. But, if it should happen, we will pray even harder and keep going till we do. If we’re still not there by Christmas, we may have to have a re-think!

St Edmund, pray for us.

Jo Lewry, parishioner at St Edmund’s and also CPC for Portsmouth Diocese

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.