Colombia’s peace process. A CAFOD and Christian Aid perspective. Find out more in our Fast Day Briefing

What is really happening in Choco, one of the regions hardest hit by the armed conflict?

Chocó, on Colombia’s Pacific coast, is one of the most biodiversity regions of Colombia. The population there is largely Afro-Colombian (85%), who historically have been among those most marginalised and discriminated against in Colombian society.

It is not only an area affected by the armed conflict, but also by a lack of state presence or access to basic services. For example, 41% of housing in the region lack basic services, compared with 10% nationally, and 81.5% of the population do not have their basic needs met, compared with 37.6% nationally. Child mortality is also considerably higher in the Chocó than the national level.

In late 2016 a peace deal was achieved with the then largest guerrilla group; the FARC. In early 2017 the guerrilla group ELN started formal peace talks, which included a temporary bi-lateral ceasefire announced during Pope Francis’ visit in September 2017.

In spite of this, some of the most remote regions, which have been hardest hit by the armed conflict, like Chocó saw little improvement. The first eleven months of 2017 saw more people forced to flee their homes than in 2015 and 2016 combined.

There is a lot of big business interest in the land in Chocó, with mining, large-scale agriculture, and logging all present. A ground-breaking ruling made public in 2017 granted constitutional rights to the Atrato river, which has been severely contaminated. The ruling established the creation of the “Guardians of the River”.

Please join the Harvest Briefing:

Saturday, 3 February 2018

10:30 am – 1pm

Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology,  14 Grange Road Cambridge. CB3 9DU

For more information:

Father Sterlin Londoño

Stelin Logrono

Our inspiring partner, Father Sterlin Londoño from the Diocese of Quibdó in the Chocó region of Colombia has been accompanying local communities following the Laudato Sí encyclical promoting the ruling and supporting the “Guardians of the River”, as well as fostering reconciliation and peace building. He will be visiting us to tell us about the situation on the ground in Chocó and the work the Diocese is doing with the support from CAFOD and Christian Aid. Father Sterlin Londoño has a special role in accompanying the Afro Colombian communities in the Diocese of Quibdó.

Bernardino Mosquera, community leader

Bernardino Moreno

Bernardino Mosquera is president of the Community Council of Paimadó, which is Afro-Colombian collectively owned territory. He is on the frontline of the struggle to protect human, community and environmental rights in Paimadó. As a result, his life has been threatened. Last year he was appointed as one of 14 Guardians of the Atrato River. He sees this as another opportunity to save the community’s territory.




Speak up young people of Norwich!

This week, CAFOD volunteers visited the Catholic schools of the Norwich area. There they engaged Year 6 and Year 10 students in a series of activities in relation to the Speak up Week of Action as part of the Power to be Campaign.

The year 6, Saint Francis of Assisi students were introduced to the campaign with a couple of questions where they were asked to share with everyone what electricity they had already used up to that moment.

That question sure got them going! Charging phones, microwaving their porridge, toasting their bread and using cars to get to schools where a few among the shouted examples. Students quickly began to realise how much electricity they had already used during the past few hours of the day. This made it easy for them to understand, the importance of having electricity as a basic need all around the world and not just for the few.

One in six people worldwide do not have access to electricity. Students were surprised with this figure and CAFOD volunteers explained how 84% of people live in rural areas, where access to the traditional mode of electricity is much harder. As the saying goes; where there is a will there is a way, and CAFOD is supporting that way.

CAFOD helps to bring a different way of life with many new possibilities for the locals, by simply installing solar panels on the rooftops of rural homes. So how can we be the change? By speaking up!

That’s exactly what the Saint Francis of Assisi students did. CAFOD volunteers held a training for public speaking workshop with the students which involved a fun game of Lingo Bingo and a challenge to speak without ‘umming’ or ‘ahhing’, deviation or repetition (perhaps you’ve heard this on the radio). That sure got them practicing for whenever they would like to use their words to bring change in the world!

The year 10, Notre Dame High School students were given the chance to actually use their words to bring about change. The students wrote messages, pleas and suggestions to their influential person of authority, spanning from local members of parliament to leaders from the four corners of the world.

The teens used the statistical figures that had been discussed during an earlier activity to build their arguments. Donald Trump, Theresa May and even the local Norwich MP Chloë Smith were being challenged by the students to bring about a change. Here is an example of how the next generation has managed to use their words to action change:

“Dear MP of Norwich,
The percentages of poverty in 3rd world countries are astonishing and it has to change! Please attempt to take the 84% of people that do not have electricity in rural areas and find a way to fund charities to install renewable energy supplies that will be beneficial for the people of the country! They deserve to live like us!
Thank you, xoxo NDHS :)”

Work with us!

CAFOD East Anglia is currently looking for a Community Participation Coordinator East Anglia.

You would be responsible for recruiting and supporting a team of committed, inspired and motivated volunteers working in parish and school communities. You would contribute to the development and delivery of a regional parishioner, children and young people participation plans; be responsible for the delivery of the regional plan with a primary focus on one diocese; share accountability for regional fundraising, education, campaigns targets in line with the overall participation plans. The candidate is expected to be mobile and flexible to meet volunteers as required.

If you are motivated, possess strong interpersonal skills, enjoy working with others and want to join us, apply before 9 July.

> More information can be found on our website.