Concert for Connect2

Chelsie Sinton invites you to a concert that could change someone’s life.Connect2 gig photo

Connect2 is our scheme that links parishes in England and Wales to communities overseas. It’s a great way to show solidarity for our sisters and brothers in the south by taking a journey with ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. Through the support of your parish, people’s lives can be transformed.

On Saturday 10th June, we’re organising a concert for our supporters to enjoy a great night out but also as a way of letting people know about the amazing results that Connect2 can achieve. Local band 2econd Wind will be playing a mix of music from the 60s to the 80s so you’re sure to have a good time. There’s a licensed bar and, in true CAFOD spirit, people are being asked to bring food to share. The event is being held at St. Joseph’s parish centre in Birtley from 7 to 11 p.m. If you’d like tickets or for more details, please get in touch at


This Is My House

Eugenio and Rose Angela are grateful for the help they received to secure their new home.

Eugenio and Rose Angela are grateful for the help they received to secure their new home.

Rob returns home to a pile of bills, pizza menus and junk mail…and just what a home means.

Coming home from Brazil I had to nudge my front door open with my shoulder to dislodge the two weeks of mail that had collected inside.  When I was younger the arrival of ‘the post’ was more of an event, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not so.  These days, both bills and birthday cards arrive as often through my inbox as my letterbox.

More often than not when I see these personalised offers of a new credit card or more double glazin,g I am filled with righteous indignation.  ‘How did they get hold of my address?’  ‘How do these people know where I live?’  Returning from Brazil the memory of Eugenio and Rose Angela turned these thoughts on their head.

We had visited them in their lovely new apartment in Sao Paulo with Osmar from APOIO, one of CAFOD’s partners.  Like many people in Sao Paulo, Eugenio and Rose Angela had moved here to find work.  “I am from Bahia,” Rose Angela told us. “I left to visit my Auntie in Sao Paulo when I was 11 and stayed.”  And like many other people it had been a long and hard struggle to get a safe place to live.

Eugenio: “We had previously lived in 3 occupations and had camped on the street.   We met in Vila Prudente (a favela close to the city centre). Before the occupations we had lived in a shack with 2 rooms. It was very hard.  We now have one son who is 8 years old.  What is important for me is to have the space.”

Eugenio and Rose Angela were only able to get an apartment through APOIO.  APOIO work across Sao Paulo, campaigning for better housing for the millions of people living in poor conditions.  They support occupations of some of the many abandoned hotels and buildings in Sao Paulo (Osmar told us there were enough empty spaces in the city to provide homes for 40,000 people) pressurising the local and national government to provide more social housing for their citizens.

When they lived on the streets or in occupations Eugenio and Rose Angela wouldn’t have received any mail, junk or otherwise.  They didn’t have an address.  Eugenio made me appreciate for the first time, what a privilege it can be give your address to someone.  He told me, “When people are asked where they live, sometimes they don’t know what to say.  Now I have a home to go to. I can say, ‘This is my home address.  This is my house.’”  His pride in such a simple thing as having an address, something I had always taken for granted, humbled me.

Before we left we asked them if they had a message for CAFOD supporters

Eugenio: “To the people in England and Wales I say ‘it was worth it and it is still worth it, to support other people.’  Continue the struggle because the struggle is long and without them we cannot carry on.  I thank them for their support and it has helped us to get to our home.  Sao Paulo is not an easy city to live in.  There are lots of shanty towns.  We have lived in favelas and our end is here.”

Rose Angela: “You bring the light to us. You have done this.  My son has his own space, his own television, not sharing with others.  He chose his own bedroom and his own colour for the wall, blue.  What I want most is for my son to be a good citizen and to have a brilliant future and place to live.  And this is the place he is going to live.  And I will put all my effort into this.”

The least we can do to support them.


Rob is organising his thoughts and will be speaking to groups about his experiences while he was in Brazil.

Keep in touch with us for more details at or we are on Twitter at



Rob’s Early Christmas Message

Not one that he made earlier!
Rob tries his hand at making a Christmas tree

Rob’s latest blog sees him visit a project to assist people who are homeless. He lends a hand but finds that he gets more than he gives…

“7th November 2012

It´s a hot early November morning in Sao Paulo, the temperature is a sticky 28 degrees centigrade, and the Christmas trees are already out in force. On the way to Boracéa we drive past `Christmas Toyland´ where an inflatable Santa Claus waves at us from the shop window. I have never felt less festive.

Boracéa is run by APOIO, one of CAFODs main partners in Brazil and is a Welcome Centre. At first we make the mistake of calling it a Homeless Shelter but are quickly corrected. 1000 people a day use Boracéa. It provides accommodation for hundreds of homeless people, but it also has a day centre, library, community garden, laundry, arts room and an industrial size kitchen offering 2000 meals a day. In one week alone they use 1000 kilos of rice per week. And here people, all people, are made welcome.

In the art room paintings of Brazilian rural landscapes, in warm yellows and lush greens cover every wall. At one table a man is making Christmas decorations to sell. I am invited to sit down and help him cut a Christmas tree out of polystyrene and paint it.
Francisco marks the sheets carefully with a ruler and a felt tip pen. Then he shows me how to cut out two shapes using a Stanley knife and then slide them together to make a tree. He indicates that I should imitate what he has done. I am a 47 year old man with a post graduate degree (and an A level in Art grade C). How hard could it be?
Very hard. Even with his gentle but firm intervention, twice, my tree would have been the one still left in the shop on Boxing Day. When it is finished we look at it, leaning at a sorry angle. Francisco smiles kindly at me then leaves me alone with my green paint and wounded pride.
Homelessness is more on our radar at Christmas. As a society we think it wrong that people should spend Christmas Day on their own. A growing number of people volunteer to spend their holidays at soup kitchens and shelters, helping others during this time of peace and joy to the world. This morning I learned that sometimes when we think we are giving, we are actually the ones receiving. I went to Boracéa to see how homeless people are given shelter. What I actually received was a lesson in how to welcome a stranger and how as visitors from England, we can be taught by people ´less fortunate´ than ourselves.

A few minutes later Francisco comes back with a plastic bag. He wraps part of it round his foot and begins to stretch it into long, thin strips like string. I watch for 5 minutes as twists the plastic this way and that until a lattice pattern begins to emerge. Then he shows me what the finished product will look like and I can scarcely believe it. Within days a few plastic bags will be transformed into a beautiful hammock which APOIO can sell to raise money for Boracéa. A homeless man, making a bed for someone else out of recycled plastic bags; much better than any present you could buy in ´Christmas Toyland´.”

Rob is back in the UK, reflecting on his trip and on all that he witnessed. We hope to set up some presentations and we’ll let you know when these are in place.