Fast Day, Farming and Fun!

Yesterday I was out and about visiting everyone at St John the Baptist primary school in Andover who will be celebrating a special Harvest Mass today.  The school will be praying for all those around our world (one in seven) who do not have enough to eat and supporting people in their own area by bringing in food for the local Food Bank – a great idea!

At assembly, we thought about the fact that there is enough food for everyone to eat in the world yet almost a billion people will go to bed hungry tonight.  We then met some children from around the world and heard how their families managed.

Kabery from Bangladesh lives in any area where flooding has made it really hard to grow food and Vicente from El Salvador has also found it difficult to grow food because of the rains. His family have to buy their own food now and the prices are very high. But with CAFOD’s help Kabery’s family has learned how to use some of their land to grow vegetables even though the soil has been affected by salt water and Vicente’s family now has a fish pond and his mum is part of a group who work together to try to find new ways of earning a living.

Nine year old Gift from Zambia faced similar problems.  Zambia has faced severe droughts and Gift’s family used to struggle to make a living. A typical meal for Gift used to be pumpkin leaves, but now his parents have learned how to look after a vegetable garden and grow crops. Now they have access to water, they can grow vegetables all year round. Today, Gift has a healthy diet and his family can even sell the extra tomatoes they grow to sell at market which means they can pay for his school fees.

We then looked at how CAFOD helps build a fairer world by providing emergency food when people are really struggling when there has been a flood or drought or when people have had to leave their homes because of fighting.

Secondly by providing tools so people can rebuild their lives, grow crops so they can feed their families and pay for the things they need.  And lastly by speaking out against unfairness and trying to persuade governments to look at how they treat people and to see if there is a better way of doing things.

I then visited Year 6 and we thought about some of the underlying reasons why the current global food system doesn’t work by playing the excellent ‘Can you beat the system’ game produced by Oxfam.

Pupils had to imagine they were small scale farmers living in a less economically developed country who make their living by growing food (in this case maize) to sell at local market.  Each group had to produce a crop by drawing/cutting out as many maize as they could in 10 minutes. Everyone started off with exactly the same materials but after 10 minutes different groups received different news. Some groups had been hit by extreme weather, some had to cope with high food prices and one group had their land bought by a wealthy company so they could not longer farm it.

Ooo they were not happy!!!

But after the session, pupils thought about how it felt when their crops were destroyed and they had to start from nothing or how they felt about half their materials being taken away when food prices began to rise and they had to sell their materials to get by.   However one group had received investment from the government and produced more than anyone else.

We then discussed what would happen if farmers were supported like this in the real world (which has happened in some countries such as Vietnam) and what would happen if they weren’t supported.

Lastly, we remembered the assembly this morning and how climate change and food prices had featured in the children’s lives. We then thought about some of the ways we could make a difference by tackling our own energy use, supporting Fairtrade, thinking about those who produce our food, sharing what we have with others and praying for those without enough to eat.

Thank you so much to all the staff, parents and pupils at St John the Baptist – especially Mrs Richardson, Ms Harwood and Headteacher Ms Davies. I loved visiting you and we really do appreciate all your support for CAFOD. Thank you all so much.

For more information about Harvest Fast Day please go to www.cafod.org.uk/fastday

For more information on the game ‘Can you beat the system’ please go to http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/resources/food_for_thought_resources_learn/index.htm

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