They began the assembly by re-capping the call of Pope Francis to care for our common home so that all can have access to clean, safe water and enough food to feed everyone.
Patrick and Isobel reminded the children that the last time they visited, they talked about the Year of Mercy and mentioned in particular, the Corporal Works of Mercy, such as ‘feed the hungry’ and ‘give drink to the thirsty’. Today’s assembly would look at another aspect.
Isobel and Patrick asked the children what sports they liked to play and the children told them of all the different games they played in school and clubs. These included, tag, football, swimming, dancing and rugby. A few children then volunteered to mime six games which were guessed correctly by their classmates.
Isobel and Patrick explained that playing sport helps to develop important values such as friendship, sharing and solidarity. CAFOD agrees with this and thinks that playing sport and games helps us to make friends, show respect, to play fair, treat people with dignity, and work together.
Even though Brazil is not one of the poorest countries in the world, we still see great poverty there. Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest country in the world.
Millions of people in Brazil live in poor housing called Favelas. They are homes that are made with anything the families can find, bricks, mud, corrugated iron and even cardboard. These are not ideal places to live, but millions of people do not have a choice. These Favelas can usually be found around the city, even in the hills surrounding large cities. The people here often work together to do things to make life better for themselves and their children.
Many of the children were very knowledgable about Brazil and were familiar with the term ‘Favela’. It transpired that this year group had the Latin American country as their carnival topic! Patrick and Isobel then invited the children to meet Rogerio and Andreia (see above) who come from Brazil. They live in Peixinhos in North East Brazil. They both like playing Brazil’s favourite sport – football!
Playing football though is much more than just a game for them. They are part of a special project funded by CAFOD which helps children who live in favelas, which can be dangerous places. There is often violence between gangs and this means that children have to spend time indoors and so can’t make friends.
Andreia says that she used to be sad and feel lonely but going to the football project has helped her make friends. She also says that, “we want to play and we cannot because there is so much violence on the street.” However, she says that she feels safe when she is at the project with her friends.
They go to a special project funded by CAFOD for boys and girls and one of the activities which they both love taking part in is being part of the football team. The project offers two football workshops each week. 50 children and young people attend each of them. 8 young people from the project are now playing in local football clubs as a result of partnerships created with football clubs in 2013.
In 2014 two football tournaments were organised by the children. One football tournament had the aim of bringing together groups of young people that are rivals. The organisers hope that having learnt to play football together without fighting and arguing, they will be more likely to not fight in the streets of their community.
The children at St Thomas More immediately recognised that the football clubs were ‘welcoming the outsider’.
Mr Flanagan and our volunteers emphasised that God has given everyone a gift and a talent. We should develop and use our talents to our best ability and thank God for our achievements.
Thank you Patrick and Isobel for telling us all about this exciting assembly, and good luck to everyone as you do your best to represent your individual talents and team ability this summer in all forthcoming sporting events.