English Martyrs Primary Brightens Up!

English Martyrs primary Harvest Fast Day 2015

O you all look like you’re having the BEST time! Thank you to everyone at English Martyrs Catholic Primary in Reading for ‘Brightening Up’ this Harvest to help CAFOD partners bring about a brighter and more peaceful world.  You look FANTASTIC!

Our fab Education Volunteer, Linda Heneghan, visited the school last week to give a special assembly with her trusty puppet pal – Francesca!

Linda started by promising to share a little about the lives of two children – one here in the UK and one in El Salvador in Latin America. Both these children – Luke and Diego – have had their lives brightened up by living in peace with people.

But before Linda talked about Luke and Diego, she explored a little more about what peace really means.  Everyone thought for a moment about children who are refugees from war torn countries and Linda explained how CAFOD works with partners to help people who are fleeing from countries like Syria.

She then asked the children what they do to keep the peace.  As the children knew, to have peace we all have to get on, be kind to one another and share. If we don’t do this and we fall out and argue with each other, then there is conflict.

English Martyrs primary HFD 2015The children then imagined what ingredients they might use in a ‘Peace Pie’ and a ‘Conflict Cake’.  Two children came to the front and had to pull out an ‘ingredient’ from a mixing bowl, read it and then put it onto the correct tray.

‘Ingredients’ ranged from ‘being kind’ and ‘forgiving someone’ for the Peace Pie to ‘falling out’ and ‘fighting’ for the Conflict Cake.  Linda then asked the children if they’d ever fallen out with anyone.  Most of us have! But what’s important, as she said, is that we make up and we forgive the person.

As Linda said, those of us who have received the sacrament of reconciliation know how it feels when we admit we have done something wrong and know that God has forgiven us. Jesus taught us to be peacemakers. He said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’. [Matthew 5:6] We try to follow the good example that our parents and our teachers give us and as children of God we look to Jesus to show us how to live our lives.

Luke

Luke in the UK

Diego 2

Diego in El Salvador

Linda then said that this is what Luke (from the UK) had done. He fell out with his friends one break time but made it up with them afterwards.  He was a peacemaker.  CAFOD works with our partners to try to be peacemakers too.  Linda showed the children a picture of Diego, a young boy in El Salvador in Central America.  Diego lives in a part of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, that can be very violent. There are lots of gangs in the area. CAFOD is working on a peace-building project to help the community and children like Diego to live together in peace. Diego’s school runs lots of different sport, music and dance activities for children to join in and he plays the drums in a peace band. When he is doing so he feels safe.

Take a look below at a short film of Diego and his experiences of living in San Salvador.

Linda then explained to the children that we’re asking schools to join in and ‘Brighten Up’ this Harvest to help CAFOD to help other communities like Diego’s, find more peaceful ways of living together.   Click on our special film about this below.

The children then prayed for the children of El Salvador and all children who are affected by violence, especially the refugees from Syria and other war torn countries.

Linda also held a special classroom session to think about the very many and different reasons why people move from their countries. The children looked at the difference between moving out of choice and forced migration.  They also discussed what is meant by the terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’, and the difference between the two.

They were then grouped into refugee families and simulated the journey of their family escaping from the dangers of war.  Linda led the children through the nine stages of the story which involved them making choices, some of which represent the real-life dilemmas which many refugees face.

Afterwards the children thought about how they would feel if they were told they were in great danger and quickly had to leave behind their friends, home and their things. They reflected on whether, during the activity, they’d brought the right things and how it felt when they had to give up their belongings.  They also discussed places in the world where people have become refugees and how we can all play our part in welcoming new people into our communities.

English Martyrs primary HFD 2015Thank you so much to everyone at English Martyrs for all your fantastic support for CAFOD.  Thank you too Linda for carrying out the visit.  It sounds wonderful!

Find out more about our ‘Brighten Up’ for Harvest appeal.

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