By Patrick Nicholson “There were bodies everywhere,” said Ali. “We had two choices if we wanted to live: Turkey or Lebanon. We came to Lebanon because I thought I would find work.” Ali (49), Aaicha (34) and their five children came to Lebanon 18 months ago from Idlib in north-western Syria. The deciding factor was when the next door house was hit by a rocket, killing 18 people. Life in Syria had gotten progressively worse for them since the start of the conflict in early 2011. There was no electricity or running water. Inflation was rampant. What cost 15 Syrian pounds before the war, now cost 150 Syrian pounds. “You had to stand in line for three hours just to buy bread,” said Ali. And then there were the bombs, rockets and air attacks. When they first arrived in Lebanon, the family lived in a small tent. Now they rent a room in Mount [...]
Caritas member organisations around the world are preparing for World Youth Day in Rio. Here's what some young people who are going to WYD with Cafod (Caritas England and Wales) say:
By Patrick Nicholson Since the start of the conflict in 2011 in Syria, over 1.7 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. Lebanon has received the largest number of refugees in the region. Although there are half a million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, the true number is estimated to be beyond 1 million. Every day, Caritas staff meets hundreds of new arrivals from Syria, each with their own account of the horrors they've seen. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. “When I hear all their stories, it feels like my head will explode,” said Mireille, a Caritas social worker in Beirut. Suitable accommodation has long since run out in the small country, and the refugees must find anywhere they can for shelter. Caritas Lebanon is providing aid and care to the Syrian refugees wherever they might be. Khatar Khatar (42) lives with her six children in a cowshed on a farm in the Bekaa [...]
What inspires young people to cross continents for a celebration of faith with Pope Francis? Lilian Chan, on line editor for Caritas Australia, tells us about the energy, diversity and unity to be found at World Youth Day. One of the phrases I've most heard during my preparations for WYD is "to expect the unexpected"! I am definitely looking forward to seeing Pope Francis. I've read a few of his addresses, and they have been so amazing and inspiring - he is simple to understand, but has such insight into the world and how we as Catholics fit in. He also shows such love and understanding of humanity when he speaks, which is so different to what we often hear in our world today. The chance to see a pope from Latin America in Latin America will be really amazing. Most importantly, I've decided to go to WYD this year because I [...]
World Youth Day 23rd-28th July By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis Read in Spanish. Pope Francis now has more people following him on twitter in Spanish than he has in English (well over a cool 2.5 million followers in each language). Seeing as up to three-quarters of twitter users are said to be between 15 and 25 years old, that’s a good sign for the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil. Around two million young pilgrims are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro where they’ll join Pope Francis on Copacabana beach and in other places to take part in various events such as catecheses, masses and a vigil. I’ll be with them, applying sun cream and anti-aging creams at frequent intervals and working with my colleagues from Caritas Brazil to provide the 164 organisations in our global confederation with blogs, press releases and photos.
Read in French By Clotaire Mbao Ben Seba, Bangui If you think a smile is stronger than a weapon If you believe in the power of an offered hand, If you can look at the other with a touch of love If you prefer to know the hope to suspicion, If for you the other is primarily a brother, If you believe that peace is possible, Then peace will come. A hymn for peace sung by students of St. Theresa School in Bangui at a special Mass for reconciliation. “If we speak, write and cry loud enough, someone may stop, listen and do something,” said Fr. Aurelio Gazzera, Caritas director in the diocese of Bouar in the Central African Republic. But he doubts that help will come to a country with chronically instability and little strategic value. Conflict, human rights abuses and lawlessness has been rampant there since the rebel […]
By Guy-Marin Kamandji After about six months of a truce, fighting has resumed around the eastern Congolese city of Goma, in North Kivu. An offensive by M23 rebels started on Monday 20 May at dawn in Mutaho. Eye-witnesses, speaking on Radio Okapi, said, “We heard heavy arms fire on the hills around our homes from about 4 in the morning. We left immediately without taking anything. It is under these conditions that we arrived at Mugunga... we were scattered. There are people who have not found their children." Caritas says it registered 132 families in Mugunga III camp on Monday from Mutaho. “M23 troops resumed fighting in the early hours of Monday. These clashes have caused a panic among the population of several villages and many people have moved to a neighborhood in the north east of Goma,” said Caritas Goma. “Our last information is that 3000 people have arrived at the St.Francis Xavier [...]
By Guy-Marin Kamandji, Caritas Congo Musawu walks with a firm step, carrying 20 litres of water on her head with great agility. The water must be equivalent to about half the 10 year old girl’s weight. It’s Monday morning in Bukwa Mulumba, a town in Kasai Central in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Musawu still has to make the 2.5 km trip from her home to the water point and back two more times today. “When there is enough water at home, then my mother lets me go to school. Tomorrow I will be able to go to school,” she says. She is not the only one making the walk on the slippery slope. Mrs Kanyeba, a young woman, doesn’t have the 250 to 300 Congolese Francs (about 20 cents) to buy 20 litres of water in her village, so she must make the journey herself. “After four trips with 20 […]