CAFOD is always a hub of constant activity and energy, and is even more since the IF campaign was officially launched at the start of this year. In North Wales, we have been kept on our toes since launching the Welsh IF/OS campaign on 25th January at Wrexham Cathedral. Since then we have worked in coalition on the IF Food Pilgrimage, IF Vigils, and many other events in between. While just last week a party of 15 people from across North Wales pulled on CAFOD t-shirts and descended on London for the #BigIF.
Less than a week since returning from London, myself and Tom, a CAFOD volunteer, found ourselves digging out our passports and making the journey to the second #BigIF, this time in Belfast.
In St Mary’s Catholic Church in Holyhead we met up with Christian Aid, Oxfam, Tearfund, the Wales Africa Link, and IF supporters. Children from St Mary’s primary school gave a presentation about the IF campaign, and Albert Owen, Labour MP for Anglesey, sent us off to Belfast telling us that: “The community of Anglesey is 100% behind you on this journey“.
It was not only the community of Anglesey who sent us goodwill messages. I received texts and emails from CAFOD colleagues in the days prior to our departure, who wished us well, and said that although they could not be there, they were with us in spirit. And as Tom and I boarded the ferry it was with these good wishes that we made our journey to Belfast.
While we had been greeted with glorious sunshine in London; the weather in Belfast could not have been more different, and rain continued to lash down, but this did not do anything to lessen the mood or enthusiasm of all the campaigners who had made this journey. By the time the Ulster Orchestra had opened the Belfast BigIF, the Botanic Gardens was filled with people in welly boots, rain ponchos and umbrellas, refusing to allow the weather to affect the importance of the message they were sending to the G8 leaders.
Some of the highlights of the day included director and playwright, Richard Dormer, speaking movingly about the Irish famine and how as a result of this the Irish have “a feeling of solidarity with those suffering from hunger around the world”, before he introduced actor Jim Broadbent to read Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘For the Commander of the Eliza’, which reduced the audience of nearly 2000 people to silence.
Joy, a campaigner from Kenya who spoke of how in Kenya 66% of land grabs are used for producing biofuels, which means that people go hungry. Sudarshan from Bangladesh who spoke of similar problems there; while Frank and Mwajuma from Tanzania spoke of their first hand experiences of hunger. Scottish campaigners joined the stage to speak about why they had come to Belfast, and Welsh campaigners presented their ‘Message in a bottle’ (a giant plastic bottle filled with messages from Welsh campaigners for the G8 leaders), both of which received loud cheers from the crowd.
As the day drew to its close music from Belfast’s Gospel Choir and ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ further enthused this already energetic crowd, and as the crowd started to make its way home we were told to ‘keep up this noise’ and continue to push the G8 leaders to take action so that we can end global hunger.
Thank you to everyone for the words or encouragement, prayers and complete support you have all shown for this campaign. I have loved meeting CAFOD supporters at all these events, and hope to see you all again at future events.
CAFOD Diocesan Officer
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