O thank you very much to everyone at St Mary’s Catholic primary school in Gosport for ‘brightening up‘ this Harvest and inviting our Education Volunteer Maureen Thompson to deliver a special assembly earlier this month.
Maureen started the assembly by explaining that she was going to ask the children to think about how food is grown. She asked everyone to put up their hands if they have ever grown anything to eat.
She then asked them whether they could think of things that are needed to help crops grow well, such as sunshine, rain, and good soil as well as things that might hinder growth such as drought or flooding.
CAFOD works all over the world helping families to be able to grow enough food to feed themselves and often have enough left over to sell in order to provide an income.
One of the things needed for growing food is good soil so Maureen then showed the children how CAFOD has helped a family living in Bolivia to have much better soil for growing their vegetables.
Santos and Joel live in a small farm high up in the Andes mountains in an area called the Altiplano. Getting water is difficult and rain is unpredictable. There are a lot of hailstorms and frost which can wipe out people’s crops. The soil is generally very dry and of poor quality.
This is a job for Wonder Worm as Maureen went on to explain!
CAFOD’s partner is working with local people to help them create wormeries. These are big holes in the ground which the people dig, build a wall inside and fill with cow manure. Then they are given worms by CAFOD’s partner which they add to the hole, keep damp and cover to protect the worms from the very hot sun. Here is Elizabeth, Santos and Joel’s mother, beside their wormery (below).
After about three months, Wonder Worm and his friends have done their job, and created wonderfully rich humus (the worms eat the cow manure and the humus is what comes out afterwards). The humus is worked into the fields as a fertiliser and then sown on the family’s fields.
Modesto, Joel and Santos’ father says “We realised very quickly how good it was. We used the humus on our potatoes and the next year they were very much taller than would have been previously.”
As Maureen explained, both boys help their parents with the work. Santos helps with the replanting, watering the plants and weeding. Joel (pictured above) helps with weeding but his Dad says sometimes “he pulls up the wrong plants.” Modesto says life will be much easier for his sons than it has been for him, as it will be easier to grow enough food. He also says that eating the vegetables means they are both healthy and growing properly.
Now not only does the family grow enough food for themselves but they have some extra crops such as onions, chard, potatoes and beans which are taken into the nearest town to sell at market. Modesto also sells some of the worm humus, because people can see how good it is.
At the end of the assembly the children were also reminded about the Corporal Works of Mercy. As Maureen said, these are the things Jesus told us to do to show everyone we love them the way that God loves us. Helping people who are hungry to have food is one of those.
Maureen told us that she loved meeting the children at St Mary’s and she particularly wanted to thank the children who dressed up as vegetables and Wonder Worm on the day! Thank you so much everyone for your support! We’re looking forward to hearing all your great ideas on how you will all ‘Brighten Up’ this Harvest to help create a fairer world.
Find out more about our work in Bolivia and Ruben’s story by watching this short film below.