Lent begins early this year with Ash Wednesday falling on 14 February and CAFOD’s Family Fast day is on Friday 23 February.
Our focus story is on a young man called James Pyne, who is a fisherman in Liberia. His father taught him how to fish at the age of 12. James said, “I didn’t want to fish but my father told me that when you are a man, you can’t depend on one thing, you have to learn many things because you do not know where you will find yourself tomorrow.” He says, “Fishing means a lot to me. Sending my children to school is because of fishing. Everything that I do, that I live on is fishing. God first, then fishing is my life.”
In 2005, James rowed 200 kilometres from his home in River Cess to start a new life in New Kru Town. He spent five years establishing himself before his family came to join him but despite all his work, life was difficult.
He said, “Before I joined the CAFOD project I was using my traditional methods in my fishing activities. I was not going too far. If I went further, I would not be able to see the shore and I could lose my way back home. It wasn’t through choice that we were fishing around the shore side but based on the equipment that we used, it wouldn’t allow us to go to a far distance. So it was difficult but we had to do it because it was all that we could afford to do.”
“Sometimes I got no catch at all because I was not going far out. That was one of the reasons why I had to send my children home, out of school. Sometimes there would be no food for that day. I would tell them, bear with daddy, things will get better and we are going to hold on together.” It was very difficult.
James was risking everything to put food on his family’s table. Five fishermen a month in James’ community were losing their lives at sea, people James called brothers.
CAFOD funded on-land and at-sea safety training for fishermen in James’ community and provided equipment to help them navigate and stay safe. He told us, “The CAFOD project introduced many things in our village. We were able to get life-jackets, we have a signal mirror and we were able to get the fish finder with the GPS. The CAFOD training made me more brave at sea and I’m not using the traditional methods like before.”
When he was in the paddle canoe, he could only go 6 or 7 nautical miles but with the GPS he can now go above 70 nautical miles and using the fish finder he is able to catch more fish because he can travel at sea any time he chooses, even at night.
James says, “I got more food. I feel good because I used to buy rice by the cup but now I can buy it in 25kg bags. And when I go fishing, I’ve got my fridge, I’ve got fresh fish.”
James used the money he made from catching more fish to buy a bigger boat with an engine. He now hires and trains young fishermen, passing on his knowledge to the next generation. “It is my prayer that I want the project to continue and the fishermen with the GPS will go further and bring more fish and the community will be developed.”
Your donations this Fast Day will help hardworking people like James to get the tools they need to feed their families. Please give what you can and remember to pray for our work. For whatever you are able to do, thank you!