Cake sale success helps bring victory to villagers facing eviction
FOR two decades, a Chesham church has been baking for Brazilian communities, and with their support, a charity’s partners have helped the 378 families of Prestes Maia to find a permanent home.
The Chesham Union of Catholic Mothers (UCM) group at St. Columba’s RC Church, in Berkhampstead Road, has held a monthly coffee morning and bake sale to support the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development’s (CAFOD) work in Brazil.
Over the years, they have sold various types of cakes – but one thing remains the same, it is always a sell-out.
In 2012, the group began supporting the community of Prestes Maia, who were facing eviction from their homes.
Finally, in October 2015, following 15 years of campaigning by homeless families and CAFOD partner, APOIO, the local government of São Paulo signed over more than £4million for the compulsory purchase of the Prestes Maia building.
The news represents a fantastic victory for APOIO and the 1,000 strong community, as the building is now planned to be converted into social housing.
The ongoing financial and spiritual support from the parish for the community meant they had the resources and courage to campaign for their right to a home.
Cara Hitchcock, coorganiser of the monthly event in Chesham, said: “In 1996 when Fr Chris Whitehouse became the parish priest, CAFOD took on a new and more personal meaning for us. He suggested we focus our parish fundraising efforts on a specific CAFOD project. He put his wish into the safe and capable hands of the late Patti Warren. Patti struck upon the idea of organising a regular monthly coffee morning in the Church Hall where people could meet and socialise, to fundraise and to share important CAFOD information. The coffee mornings became a regular and much loved feature among all, adults and children.
“About 15 years ago, the CAFOD Coffee Mornings progressed into the form we now know and love as the Monthly CAFOD Cake Sales. Over the years, many, many parishioners have kindly and regularly baked and slaved over their ovens each month to provide some of the most delicious, scrumptious and creative cakes to sell.”
She added: “Patti Warren, Adrienne Gunn, Moira Burnett, Sandra Watson, Hannah Evans, Christina Pearce and Jackie Telford, to name just a few, are some of the many dedicated women who have organised, baked, advertised, set up, cleared away, washed up and donated each month.
“In recent times the CAFOD Cake Sales have yet again transformed; they have expanded to often include not only cakes but the efforts of our jam, marmalade and homemade pickle makers.
“This year we are trying a new venture by including the produce of our green fingered parishioners – CAFOD Cake and Home Produce Sale.
“The Connect2: Brazil project that we are now part of has been great fun and very informative. We especially like it because of all the feedback we have had over the years. It is really great to find out what the money raised is being spent on and how it helps improve lives.”
CAFOD representative in Chesham Deborah Purfield said: “I want to say thank you to every at St Columba’s for their dedication to fundraising for CAFOD over the years. Through their generosity, time, and commitment to helping the communities of Brazil, not only have they made a massive difference, but they have brought their community together and created real partnership.”
To find out more visit www.cafod.org.uk/brazil.