Power to be from Kenya to St. Alban’s High School, Ipswich

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.

Meet some young ambassadors

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?

CAFOD in the classroom

cafod-in-the-classroom

In preparation for this year’s Lenten Challenge, year 7 students at Notre Dame High School in Norwich made green hearts to show their devotion to the whole planet.

“The green heart remind me of what’s going on in the world with climate change”

Inspired by the words of Pope Francis, describing the world as ‘our common home’, students agreed that wearing the hearts opens our hearts and reminds us that we are here to look after the world .

The students have made green hearts to show that we are all stewards of this earth and that they have a message to share with others:

Elwin Mugenzi says, ‘The green heart remind me of what’s going on in the world with climate change, especially in Zambia. By wearing the heart, we are showing that we can make a difference by loving the environment and the people in it. We can be ‘green’ and environmentally friendly.’

They recognised that everyone is equal and entitled to live comfortably and without discrimination, or in poverty.

Andres Santana says, ‘The green hearts make us more aware of what’s going on around us and it opens our eyes to what we don’t normally notice or choose to ignore; how the lack of stewardship leads to poverty. We can make a change.’

‘We want people to see that all are welcome and that we should work together, without walls or barriers of hate, to create unity in the world today’, says Miriam Sharif, teacher.

Finally, Ashley Benstead added, ‘The green hearts represent us as a worldwide community, a ‘common home’ and how we can change the world for the better and be stewards of God’s creation.’