Can you imagine having a rainy gloomy school day in Ipswich where students have to attend classes in the dark and then go to a home where the only source of light available makes you cough?
It is quite a grim reality to have to live with but surprisingly enough in 2017, 1.2 billion people in the world still do not have access to electricity of which 291 million are school children. Veronica, who was one of these school children, today is able to see the light at the end of the tunnel all thanks to CAFOD and its Campaign Power to be.
An aspiring student from Kenya, Veronica’s wish to become a politician is more approachable today than it was a couple of years ago. Before CAFOD came into the picture, Veronica was unable to continue working on her education as she only had a paraffin lamp to light up her homework and studies when she arrived home. The paraffin smoke was becoming a health hazard as she started having respiratory problems. With CAFOD’s help, Veronica was given the opportunity to continue with her studies in a healthy environment.
CAFOD was able to fit in solar panels at her school to help light their classroom during the darkest of days. Today she is able to take with her to school her new solar lamp to charge during the day. She then uses the solar lamp at home while she catches up on some extra late night reading, which brings her closer to her dream day by day.
This week, 200 Year 10 students at St. Alban’s High School in Ipswich were introduced to people and realities similar to Veronica’s. Our CAFOD volunteers Mike and Kevin worked with the students to collect messages and ideas to bring forward to politicians to make them aware of the benefits of using sustainable and affordable energy.
Students were able to see how organisations such as CAFOD are able to help millions of people around the world reach their potentials and maybe even provide them with the Power to be tomorrow’s politicians.
The Young Ambassadors Club began last year as a way for students to understand a bit more of what they were hearing in assemblies, using CAFOD’s chaplaincy and youth activities. Soon there was a core group of four students who were taking a leading role.
The schools’ charitable activities were already allocated, so for Harvest the ambassadors ‘sold’ bags of sweets and prayer cards for donations. Later they raised another £200 for world gifts. It was a moment that really brought home the meaning of CAFOD’s work for them, recognising these gifts could really transform another child’s opportunities in life.
Layla, Rob, Emily and Orla have really taken on CAFOD’s One Climate One World campaign, surveying students at lunchtime about how they would spend their last bit of energy, highlighting the difference between life in Cambridge and in Kenya, and creating a large display from the results. They have written to the school business manager to ask her to check that the schools’ energy comes from renewable sources, and to their local MP asking him to support CAFOD’s campaign. They have led CAFOD’s Harvest Assembly for years 7 and 8 students, and during another assembly they encouraged 200 students to sign campaign postcards to their MP. He was persuaded; pledging his support and sending a letter in reply to each student.
> Could you be a schools volunteer with CAFOD?
Helen has kept our presence in the primary schools around Norwich almost single-handedly, while working part time and looking after her family. She is one of those rare people who are close enough to God that the light of Christ shines through. Yet with humour and humility she apologises that she can’t do more for CAFOD.
Helen with her family
She led summer camp workshops for a wide age-range of young people at the cathedral, introducing them to Laudato Si’, and has taken year-6 students on the refugee pilgrimage – responding at short notice when the Lampedusa Cross arrived – an activity she describes as: “very powerful – the whole afternoon served as a great reminder to me why I do all this!”.
Helen eloquently described why she volunteers for CAFOD – something she’s now been doing for eight years!
“For me CAFOD brings back so many memories, its very nostalgic; Lent Fast Days and the Harvest period was always a huge part of growing up, and for my family. I have always been passionate about global justice and wanted to do a small part to assist the alleviation and suffering of poverty. Continue reading