Patrick told us,
“We were given a really warm welcome and it was terrific to see all the keen and eager children having returned from their half term break.
“The whole school, staff and pupils, had made an outstanding start to Lent with an integrated joint and collaborative campaign with their parish churches of St Michael and All Saints in Leigh Park and St Thomas of Canterbury and Thomas More in Emsworth.
“The school also entered (and won) a local ‘Speak up for CAFOD’ competition in which 33 children wrote talks entitled “Life without Taps” and many of those children will be speaking at Sunday Masses during Lent.
“In addition, parishioners in both churches have been invited to place “prayer intentions” on water droplets that the children have made and place them on a special water display. In turn, the whole school offers their prayers for those intentions.
“Isobel and I built upon this excellent initiative by using our “Make a Splash in Lent 2016″ Assembly presentation. We began by asking the children what water is used for in their homes and what might happen if they didn’t have safe, clean water.”
Patrick and Isobel then talked about Charlie, who lives in the North West of England, and Nadopun who lives in Uganda (shown above). Charlie’s family had to boil their water last year because there was bacteria in their water supply which would have made them sick if they drank it from the tap. The problem only lasted a few weeks but for some children around the world, not having fresh water is a constant problem.
Nadopun is 9 and lives in Uganda. She likes going to school with her friends and watching films. Patrick and Isobel explained that Uganda is in the East of Africa and that it’s a beautiful country, however 9.2M people there do not have access to safe water. That’s one in every four people in the country! The shortage of water is down to the lack of access to water in remote areas and the changing, unpredictable and increasingly dry climate.
Watch our special film about Nadopun’s older sister Proscovia below.
During the assembly, Patrick and Isobel also explained that many people in our world have to walk long distances to collect water and then carry it home. Two pupils carried 6.75 litres of water for a short time – just to see what this might be like if they had to fetch all the water they needed for the day in this way.
Then one pupil was asked to sit down, leaving one girl to experience how difficult it would be on her own. This was to illustrate the fact that the burden of collecting water often falls on girls and this in turn means that many drop out of school so that their families have the water that they need to drink, cook and wash.
When the local water pump broke in Naodpun’s village, her mother and oldest sisters had to walk a long way to get water. Sometimes they couldn’t get to other boreholes so they had to collect water from the river. Nadopun’s mother says the water from the river is ‘awful’. Her brother got sick from drinking it. CAFOD helped their community fix their local borehole and now they have clean water near their home. This enables the girls to stay in school and realise their God-given potential.
Patrick and Isobel reminded the children that the Pope has said that this year is a special Year of Mercy and one of the things we can do to show we love and care for others is to give drink to those who are thirsty. So when we are helping communities to have access to clean water this Lent through our ‘Make a Splash’ appeal, we are being merciful, just as God is merciful to us.
Patrick and Isobel then explained a little about CAFOD’s Lenten appeal and how all our donations will be matched by the UK government. The assembly then ended in prayer.
As regular blog readers will know, Assistant Headteacher Jeff Sendall sent us some fantastic photos of the displays in both churches last week and let us know that the school and parish intend to hold a ‘Water Fun Day’. They will also hold a special ‘Water Art Exhibition’ of the children’s art work based around our ‘Make a Splash’ appeal. How terrific!
Thank you so much to all the staff and pupils at St Thomas More for all these wonderful activities and thank you too to our volunteers – Patrick and Isobel Flynn – for all their hard work.
Read more about our special Lenten appeal. This Lent every pound raised will be doubled by the UK Government so it will have double the impact!