Friday March 15 is CAFOD’s Lent Family Fast Day. Traditionally, on each of our Fast Days we ask people to have a simple meal or give what they save to CAFOD, to help fund our work among some of the poorest people in the world.

The collections we take in our parishes are our main source of funding. This Lent we are focusing on Bangladesh, a densely-populated country facing many challenges, including rising sea levels and frequent cyclones.

Most of Bangladesh’s 144m people live on less than $2 a day and depend on agriculture to make a living and feed their families. But its low-lying geography makes the country extremely vulnerable to flooding and the effects of climate change. Frequent natural disasters such as floods and cyclones and continuous river erosion cause families to lose their homes and crops.

You are already making a difference in Bangladesh – most recently in our reaction to the Rohingya crisis. More than 700,00 refugees from Myanmar have arrived and are still arriving into these camps, but our networks have been providing practical help as well as refuge for these desperate families.

CAFOD is working with dedicated teams of local aid workers and volunteers to deliver food, kitchen supplies, blankets, clothing and sleeping mats to 40,000 vulnerable families.

Our team on the ground have also rebuilt and strengthened 40,000 makeshift shelters for families against the heavy rains of the monsoon season. This work has been vital.

We are very grateful for the generosity of people in our Catholic community that has enabled us to carry out this life-saving work. But there is always more need.

We know we can help more people to live life to the full and to ?protect our common home. ?Currently, we are unable to meet one in three documented requests for ?support received from some of the poorest people and communities, simply because we don’t have the funds to do so. ?

We introduce Mahinur to you in our fast day materials this Lent. Mahinur lives very near the coast, in an area badly hit by climate change. Cyclones are common, salty sea water floods the rice fields, and – most devastatingly for Mahinur – a drought last year killed all the fish.

Dragging her empty net out of the river, Mahinur told us: “There should be fish in the river now but there’s nothing. I have no reason to smile.”

Mahinur has a disabled husband and son to support and works every hour of the day doing odd jobs for her neighbours in return for rice. It’s not enough. Some days the family just drink water for dinner.

Currently, there is no happy ending to Mahinur’s story. This is the situation she faces today, because we haven’t been able to support her. She is the one in three.

But working through the local Church, our experts make up one of the largest aid networks in the world. Through them, your support can reach to the ends of the earth. We already know where Mahinur is. We know she needs help. And we know how to help.

That’s why I’d like to ask you to consider having a simple meal on Family Fast Day and donating what you save to CAFOD.

Your donation is a lifeline. An outstretched hand to a friend in danger.

Together, we can reach out to every single child, woman and man in God’s family with love.

Together, we can change the ending of more stories like Mahinur’s.    

Thank You.

Carol Cross, Community Participation Coordinator, CAFOD Middlesbrough

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