Ciara Hogan arriving in El Salvador

CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer Ciara Hogan shares her experiences of arriving in El Salvador, meeting CAFOD’s partners and seeing inspiring, creative projects.

Ciara Hogan
Ciara Hogan is currently in El Salvador

Our first few days in Central America have been absolutely incredible. In the short time we’ve been here we have already experienced so many different people and places, each giving us so much to think about and reflect on.

One of those experiences was our visit to La Palma, a town in the mountains of El Salvador bordering Honduras. This was our first visit to a family since we arrived.

Prior to this visit we had been meeting partners in their offices so I was looking forward to seeing a family in their own home and hearing their stories. La Palma is a town famous for its crafts.

It is the home of El Salvador’s unique brightly coloured art that has become so famous around the world because of the Romero Cross. The streets are covered in bright paintings- even the lampposts are covered in art!

We were travelling to La Palma to meet Lazaro, an artist who creates all of the Romero crosses that are sold by CAFOD.

He oversees the production of each cross, from the carpentry to the varnishing done by his own grown-up daughters. I was particularly excited about this meeting as the cross that I have had since I was young, and that has travelled with me to university and now to the Briars is a Romero cross that was made in El Salvador.

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Nottingham CAFOD Gap Year Volunteer Heads to El Salvador and Nicaragua

Ciara Hogan is heading out to El Salvador and Nicaragua as part of her CAFOD gap year! Read her thoughts below…

Ciara Hogan

Ciara Hogan is heading to El Salvador and Nicaragua

In January I am extremely lucky to be visiting El Salvador and Nicaragua. Whilst I’m there, I will be meeting CAFOD partners to see how they implement their work with the funds that are raised by CAFOD supporters here in the UK. We will also be fortunate enough to meet with local communities who directly benefit from the work of these partners. It is the part of my gap year that I have most been looking forward to but also the part that has been challenging to prepare for.

At our international visit prep weekend, we learnt more about the partners that we would be visiting in various places around El Salvador and Nicaragua. I’m particularly excited to be working with partners who work on issues of gender equality. The issue of gender equality is something really important to me, so I’m looking forward to seeing how CAFOD partners work with women overseas. Learning about the work of these partners has brought a new, humbling way of looking at the trip. Although the usual excitements about visiting somewhere new are still there, there’s a sense that we are embarking on a trip that is going to have its challenges, but that overall will fill us with a renewed hope and dedication to the work we are carrying out this year.

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‘Fascinating’ Floral Art Afternoon in Eastwood

There was a ‘fascinating’ afternoon of floral art in Eastwood to raise money for communities in Ethiopia.

The event was held in Eastwood Town Council offices by the Our Lady of Good Counsel CAFOD Group in aid of Connect2.

Connect2 is built on CAFOD’s values of solidarity and partnership, where parishes in the UK are able to stand alongside communities overseas to fight against poverty and injustice. Through Connect2, the CAFOD group at Our Lady of Good Counsel is linked with groups in Sebeya, in the dry, arid north of Ethiopia.

Elaine Oliver said: “The title was Christmas memories and the demonstration given by Maria Kirk, a member of the parish CAFOD group.

“As she told fascinating stories of her Christmases past, she worked on the arrangements, much to the delight of the audience, many of whom were not parishioners. For some it was a time of meeting old friends whom they had not seen for some time.

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