Thank you so much to St Martin’s Catholic Primary School in Caversham, Reading for all your brilliant support for CAFOD! Last week their wonderful Education Volunteer, Linda Heneghan, visited the school to talk to the children about water and how they all use it in their everyday lives. She was ably assisted of course by Francesca (Linda’s trusty companion on all her visits) who had a shower (but didn’t wash her hair) and brushed her teeth – all in her special CAFOD towel!
Linda started her assembly by telling them about Charlie, who lives in the North West of England, and Nadopun who lives in Uganda. 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. Linda 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.
As Linda explained to the children, 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, Nadopun’s 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 them fix their local borehole and now they have clean water near their home.
During the assembly Linda asked some volunteers to walk slowly round the hall while holding empty buckets by the handles. They had to continue their walk whilst Linda continued with the assembly and occasionally she would stop them and ask how it felt. Did their arms hurt? Did the bucket feel heavier? The aim of this exercise was to give the children an idea of what Nadopun and her family have to do every day, and how tiring this must be for them.
Linda then ended the assembly by reminding 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.
Later on, Linda led a workshop with Year 6 and played our ‘Life without taps’ game. Linda asked the children to imagine what it would be like to have to carry water long distances. She asked for volunteers to form ‘Family’ groups, and then to imagine themselves as farmers in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, who live in a village where their pump has broken down.
Each group had to work together to ‘collect’ water from a ‘river’ two kilometres away. The children had to make sure they collected enough to meet their family’s needs, for things such as drinking water and also water for their crops. Throughout the game groups were also given ‘chance cards’ which meant they then had to deal with changes to their situation that could affect their ability to collect enough water. The first family to collect the minimum daily amount of water was the winner!
The aim of the game was to show how hard it is to obtain enough water for daily life in areas where there are no taps nearby and the water supply is unreliable and quite possibly polluted. At the end of the game, each family had to fill in a sheet to show how many of their needs they have been able to fulfil through the collection of water. From this activity the children learned to value the importance of having clean safe water, and how precious it is to their lives. This was also in preparation for their talks for the Speaking Up for CAFOD competition that they will take part in this April too!
Thank you so much to everyone at St Martin’s for all their enthusiasm and support for CAFOD and thank you too to Linda for this lovely visit!
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!