Step into the Gap volunteer Sophie Bray is travelling to meet our partners in Ethiopia

Sophie speaks about her upcoming trip to Ethiopia

Sophie Bray, is taking part in the Step into the Gap programme. In a few weeks, she will travel to Ethiopia to meet local communities supported by CAFOD’s partner projects. She tells us about volunteering in Nottingham and her preparation for visiting Ethiopia.

meVolunteering with CAFOD for the past six months has provided me with the most enriching experiences.

It has given me the opportunity to work with approximately 1,000 young people from across the Nottingham diocese; an immense amount of young people who have continued to inspire, motivate and encourage me in all aspects of my work.

Through CAFOD’s Step into the Gap scheme, I have been able to engage young people in conversations about social justice issues such as climate change and the refugee crisis, conversations they may never have had otherwise.

Every week young people on retreat at the Briars have been challenged by Pope Francis’ mission to listen to the cry of the earth and to the cry of the poor. They have been active in this challenge by participating in several thought-provoking simulation games where they are able to experience a small fraction of what living with these realities is like. Groups have also been involved in debates through which they question their own responsibility as a community and how they can act.

As well as this, young people have been creating gifts of hope and love with CAFOD’s Green Hearts campaign to share with those at home and abroad, inspired by CAFOD’s work and the words of Nelson Mandela: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation! Let your greatness blossom!”


Young people at The Briars reflect on scripture and CAFOD’s campaign work

The next step in my gap year journey, however, proves to be the most exciting. CAFOD has given me and three other “Gappers” the life-changing opportunity to travel to Ethiopia. On 24 January, we will be flying out to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to visit CAFOD partners overseas and see first-hand the amazing development work which they do there.

While in Ethiopia we will stay with the Daughters of Charity and visit project activities. I am particularly excited to get to work with the street children that the Daughters of Charity work with as part of one of their projects.

I hope to be able to get involved with some of their music and art classes and learn about the Ethiopian culture as well as exchanging some of our own. I am thrilled to be able to have the chance to share this creativity in such a positive and affirming way!

A project which I hope will impact and inspire me is the Daughters of Charity’s work in the Tigray province, where they provide housing support for vulnerable women. This is a scheme which I feel will hits close to home and inspire my passion for gender equality and highlight its importance. The Daughters also provide care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS , which is another project which I am stirred by. I hope this will encourage me in my own volunteering and I cannot wait to learn more about how they provide this kind of support to some of the most vulnerable communities.

The enthusiasm and support I have encountered from the schools and communities across the diocese have been such an energising journey for me and one I cannot wait to take with me overseas!

I hope that I can bring this experience back to the UK and share some of the inspiring stories and lives of those who have so selflessly dedicated themselves to supporting the marginalised in society.

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