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.