Super St Amand’s!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited into St Amand’s primary school in Wantage to meet all the pupils and staff and give an assembly on our Lenten theme of water. 

During the assembly we looked at the life giving properties of water, how much we depend on it throughout the day and how we sometimes take it for granted.  We then focussed on one country (Zambia) in Africa where some people have to walk very long distances to get water from rivers because they don’t have taps in their homes.

The children heard 11 year old Rosena’s story. We thought about all the things we had in common with Rosena – who has three brothers and four sisters and enjoys looking after them and going to school.

However before a well was drilled in her village, Rosena had to do something which we have never done;  she had to spend three hours a day fetching around 10 litres of water at a time.

We tried lifting 10 litres and then imagined what it would be like to carry that on our heads for 30 minutes at a time. We also thought about all the things we’d miss out on if we had to spend three hours a day walking for water.

Before the well was installed in her village by Caritas (CAFOD’s partner), Rosena would be late for school because she had been queuing so long and sometimes she couldn’t sleep because of the pain in her neck caused by carrying such large amounts.

We reflected on the fact that the average amount of water used by someone living in Europe was 200 litres a day – whilst the average amount used by someone from the majority world was 10 litres.  A huge difference!   We talked about the unfairness of this situation and then thought about what we could do for others.

Pupils told me they were giving up all sorts of things during Lent – including biscuits and computer games – and we ended the assembly in prayer –promising that as we pray, fast and give to others we will see that everyone in our world is precious and blessed by God’s love.

In the follow up classroom sessions with Years 3 & 4 and 5 & 6, we remembered just how much water Rosena was often carrying and we had a short relay race to see how much water we could get from one side of the room to the other within 2 minutes.

We thought about the narrow and steep path Rosena had to take and the fact that the sides of the path are filled with thorny bushes – so we added a few things to make the relay race just that bit more difficult (e.g. walking backwards etc).

After a few minutes we looked at how much we had collected – (which was from 20 – 30 litres) and what we could do with that amount of water during our day. This included flushing the toilet (9 litres), brushing our teeth and washing our face and hands (30 litres) but didn’t include taking a shower, (60 litres) having a bath (150 litres) or using a washing machine (150 litres).

It certainly helped us realised just how much water we used!

We then thought about the 884 million people who still do not have access to clean water – and those who are often forced to get their drinking water from rivers.  We looked at what might be in those rivers (which are shared with animals) and the effects of drinking dirty water.

We ended the session by thinking about the things we could do – which included speaking out against this unfairness and asking our leaders to do something about the issue.

Pupils were invited to write a message to the Prime Minister on a little droplet of water as part of CAFOD’s Thirst for Change campaign.

CAFOD is asking David Cameron to call on world leaders to end water poverty at the G8 meeting in May.  For more information, please go to:

Political and financial neglect is at the heart of this problem – so we would like to thank everyone at St Amand’s for raising awareness of this issue and supporting the campaign.  We hope our voices will be heard and water and sanitation will be prioritised.

As the pupils said:

“Dear Mr Cameron…”

“You have made many changes in your PM career – you can also make another change by talking to world leaders about the water problem…”

“..please encourage other world leaders to do all they can..”

“..the G8 can make a difference!”

Our faith calls on us to take action on behalf of others– because as one pupils said, ‘we are all one family’.  Inspirational!

Our thanks for their continued fantastic support to Headteacher Mrs Clark, all the staff (especially Mrs Duggan who organised the visit), all the parents and all the lovely pupils!  What a great school! Thank you so much everyone!

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