Speak up young people of Norwich!

This week, CAFOD volunteers visited the Catholic schools of the Norwich area. There they engaged Year 6 and Year 10 students in a series of activities in relation to the Speak up Week of Action as part of the Power to be Campaign.

The year 6, Saint Francis of Assisi students were introduced to the campaign with a couple of questions where they were asked to share with everyone what electricity they had already used up to that moment.

That question sure got them going! Charging phones, microwaving their porridge, toasting their bread and using cars to get to schools where a few among the shouted examples. Students quickly began to realise how much electricity they had already used during the past few hours of the day. This made it easy for them to understand, the importance of having electricity as a basic need all around the world and not just for the few.

One in six people worldwide do not have access to electricity. Students were surprised with this figure and CAFOD volunteers explained how 84% of people live in rural areas, where access to the traditional mode of electricity is much harder. As the saying goes; where there is a will there is a way, and CAFOD is supporting that way.

CAFOD helps to bring a different way of life with many new possibilities for the locals, by simply installing solar panels on the rooftops of rural homes. So how can we be the change? By speaking up!

That’s exactly what the Saint Francis of Assisi students did. CAFOD volunteers held a training for public speaking workshop with the students which involved a fun game of Lingo Bingo and a challenge to speak without ‘umming’ or ‘ahhing’, deviation or repetition (perhaps you’ve heard this on the radio). That sure got them practicing for whenever they would like to use their words to bring change in the world!

The year 10, Notre Dame High School students were given the chance to actually use their words to bring about change. The students wrote messages, pleas and suggestions to their influential person of authority, spanning from local members of parliament to leaders from the four corners of the world.

The teens used the statistical figures that had been discussed during an earlier activity to build their arguments. Donald Trump, Theresa May and even the local Norwich MP Chloë Smith were being challenged by the students to bring about a change. Here is an example of how the next generation has managed to use their words to action change:

“Dear MP of Norwich,
The percentages of poverty in 3rd world countries are astonishing and it has to change! Please attempt to take the 84% of people that do not have electricity in rural areas and find a way to fund charities to install renewable energy supplies that will be beneficial for the people of the country! They deserve to live like us!
Thank you, xoxo NDHS :)”

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?