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A CAFOD chaplain from Sheffield has returned from a life-changing trip to Nicaragua, where she visited projects which support families to build a better future.

Stephanie (back row 3rd from right) and fellow CAFOD volunteers (front row) in Nicaragua with people from the local community

Stephanie (back row 3rd from right) and fellow CAFOD volunteers (front row) in Nicaragua with people from the local community

Stephanie, 23, arrived home from the Central American country on Saturday, 14 February, after visiting and working with vulnerable communities which are supported by the Catholic aid agency, CAFOD.  The charity has worked with partners in Nicaragua since 1971, with programmes to improve housing and water, sustainable farming and support for women and girls vulnerable to the macho culture.

Stephanie with Georgina, whose family she stayed with

Stephanie with Georgina, whose family she stayed with

Stephanie, who is currently undertaking a gap year with CAFOD, said, “Visiting Nicaragua was truly life-changing.  I’ll never forget the people I met.  It really was great to meet CAFOD’s partners and to go with them into the communities and to see how our money has had such a huge impact.

“One partner, ASOMUPRO, the Association of Women Producers, works alongside rural women to give them support and training on domestic violence, as well as giving them the means to build up their own livelihoods through projects such as kitchen gardens.  It was amazing to see the difference it is making.”

Stephanie spoke in her local parish about CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day appeal, as well as giving up chocolate herself.  The annual fundraising campaign this year focused on supporting people affected by the changing climate, which the Catholic aid agency argues is increasing the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters.

This year, the UK government is matching every pound donated to the Lent Fast Day appeal up to the value of £5 million, from Wednesday, 18 February to Friday, 17 May.  This means that donations will have double the impact, helping even more people living in extreme poverty overseas.

Angela Powell, CAFOD manager in Sheffield, said, “We’re delighted that Stephanie has had such an inspiring visit to Nicaragua and learnt so much at first-hand about communities so far away.  We’re also grateful that she is giving talks about her trip and the Lent Fast Day appeal to support people in communities such as those they met in Nicaragua.  We would like to thank Stephanie for her support.”