Next Friday, 23rd February is CAFOD’s Lent Family Fast Day – this is a day when we are invited to give up a meal and give generously to help some of the poorest people in the world. And this Lent, that giving can make double the impact, as every £1 we give will be matched by another from the government.

Not all of our brothers and sisters can choose whether or not they go without food. On the Fast Day envelope, there is a picture of Marian, from Zimbabwe. She looks back now on the countless times she had no choice but to miss a meal, on the times she would put the water on to heat in the hope that she would find something for breakfast but there would be nothing. Going hungry affects all members of a community, but pregnant women and young children are particularly at risk. Children can become prone to infection – it’s these that contribute to three million children dying every year from malnutrition.

Marian’s local Catholic diocese heard about her struggles and decided to help, by providing some seeds, so she could start a vegetable garden. Now, after a few years, what began as a small plot and some seeds is a thriving community vegetable garden, supporting 47 local families like Marian’s. Some families come to the garden as early as 3am to begin watering their vegetables. But the hard work is paying off and Marian is now full of hope for the future.

I hope you can take part in the Fast Day by giving up a meal or having a simple meal and giving generously to CAFOD in the collection next Sunday. And, if you’re reading this on Friday, do join with others in our parish on Saturday 17th at 12.00, for a simple soup lunch.

On Family Fast Day, as we pray and fast, we bring to mind all God’s children. We remind ourselves that, as God’s family, we are all connected – when one child goes hungry, we all go hungry. And, thanks to the government’s matching aid commitment, twice the number of lives can be transformed this Lent, so now is a crucial time to give.

M Wallis