By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
Last August, as Vatican News reported, “Pope Francis said that prayers and little gestures silently sow the seed of God’s love in the field of the world, making all things new. These gestures are capable of making the world more beautiful, of illuminating it with a ray of God’s love.”
I thought of these words of wisdom as I watched on TV the funeral in Bedford, UK, of Captain Sir Tom Moore who died of coronavirus on February 2 at the age of 100 years.
Sir Tom inspired countless people across the globe by raising more than £38.9 million for the National Health Service (NHS) at the height of the pandemic last year—by walking laps in his garden, with his zimmer frame. People from 163 countries contributed to his fundraising efforts. Initially, he had set out walking to raise £1,000.
Flags were flown at half-mast for this NHS fundraising hero. Tributes have poured in from far and wide for this valiant old man who demonstrated the power of ‘One’; a man who showed that small gestures can indeed illuminate our world with a ray of God’s love.
Only the closest members of his family were present at the funeral due to the pandemic. His grandson Benjie said: “If there is a lesson I have learned from living with you the last 13 years, it’s the power of positivity and kindness. I truly do not believe I would be the person I am today without your sound guidance.”
But our hope lies not only in the old, but in our youth.
On March 2, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) issued a press release entitled ‘Sports for social change: how one Essex teenager is using his love of sports to change the world this Lent.’ Essex is in South-east England.
Inter alia, it stated: “A young student from Rainham has committed to doing 400,000 steps-worth of sporting activities over Lent to fundraise for global communities that do not have readily available clean water. Inspirational student, Alex Ugoh, 18, has committed to doing 10,000 steps-worth of energy-inducing activities – from basketball, football, rugby, tennis, dancing and even mowing the lawn – every day during Lent, to fundraise for the estimated 2.2 billion people globally who do not have safe drinking water facilities.
“ ‘As someone who possesses huge aspirations to create meaningful change, the opportunity to highlight the importance of ending water poverty is a mission I am truly blessed to champion,’ explained Alex, who has recently started studying Political Economy at King’s College London. ‘So, for Lent, I will be combining my love for sports with my passion for making sure that water access for all is something that will be achieved soon.’
“Alex’s challenge is part of the national ‘Walk for Water’ event being run by UK Catholic charity CAFOD. Alex hopes his efforts will help the charity achieve its ambition of logging enough steps to collectively walk a distance equivalent to the moon and back by Easter Sunday (4th April). ‘My favourite moment so far has definitely been walking and taking in the incredible nature that my hometown has to offer,’ Alex explained.
“ ‘Sharing pictures of myself on my walks to my Instagram page has really proved that young people love supporting each other and has also led to some amazing conversations surrounding sustainable development.’
“The money raised from the ‘Walk for Water’ challenge will support local experts and communities to find the best solutions in each place where the CAFOD works. ‘Whether it’s a well, piped system or rain harvesting, we will be setting up local water committees, allowing communities to take ownership and keep the water flowing,’ added Chris Driscoll, CAFOD’s local representative in Essex.
“ ‘We would like to say a massive thank you to Alex for his efforts. We know that every step taken over Lent’s 40 days has the power to truly transform lives.’ You can donate to Alex’s challenge here: https://walk.cafod.org.uk/fundraising/alexs-walk-for-water.”
What an inspiration this youth is to all of us.
Humanity is one. As Nelson Mandela said: “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other—not in pity or patronisingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
Here in T&T, there are thousands of citizens of all ages who continue to sow gestures of compassion and love. Find a cause, support it, or start your own.
A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. (15)
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee