Step into the Gap: Mary looks back at her CAFOD gap year journey

Mary Palmer reflects at the end of her CAFOD gap year, having volunteered with us through Step into the Gap

The CAFOD Step into the Gap team's last weekend together

The CAFOD Step into the Gap team’s last weekend together

So it’s August. Which means it seems I’ve “finished” my gap year with CAFOD and YMT, my unique opportunity to “Step into the Gap”‘. However, this is not really a closing, or a finishing, but the opening of a new and exciting chapter.

Find out about CAFOD’s gap year

As I look ahead to university and beyond, I feel so grateful for everything I have learnt over the past year through the many incredible opportunities, experiences and challenges along the way – speaking on stage at Wembley Arena to 8000 young people at Flame2, running retreats throughout the year as part of the youth ministry team (YMT), welcoming 1000s to the YMT summer festivals held at the Youth Village, and having the chance to see the effect of CAFOD’s support to projects in Zimbabwe.

The gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe

The gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe

Most of all I have been humbled by the people I’ve had the privilege of meeting both here in the UK and on the overseas trip to Zimbabwe. My scrapbook of the year is full of so many people who’ve been a real influence and inspiration – friends on team at YMT, fellow CAFOD gappers, staff who’ve been there to guide us all, people we were so blessed to meet in Zimbabwe who shared their story with us, and so many young people here in the UK who I’ve enjoyed working with so much.

Step into the Gap with CAFOD

Throughout the year I have been constantly reminded of the immense and immeasurable potential each of us possess – whatever our background, gender, ethnicity, religion or age – to make a difference in this, our one shared world. We can all be a light to someone else’s darkness – and we can because we are called.

One moment in the year that reminds me of this is the secondary school health club we met in Zimbabwe. The young people work hard to make their voice heard, especially because they’re young and mostly girls. However, they are also aware of the difference they have each made in their communities. Through the health and hygiene education at school they are all now empowered to teach adults in their community the importance of living healthily and reducing disease. Amazing. They also fundraise by selling biscuits at school break time to buy stuff to keep their new school toilet block clean.

One of the girls in the health club said:

“…we are still young but we are now going to take another step…”

This quote seems particularly relevant as I and all the gappers reach the end of our year to ‘Step into the Gap’ with CAFOD: we all know we have so much more to learn, but thanks to this year we’ve shared we can look ahead with faith, increased confidence and excitement for whatever the next step in our journeys could be.

Read more Step into the Gap blogs

Mary with Cardinal Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis

Mary with Cardinal Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis

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