Hello to all the pupils at Corpus Christi Catholic Primary in Portsmouth and thank you so much for inviting Patrick and Isobel, our CAFOD Education Volunteers, to give a special assembly this week.
Patrick told us,
“It was a pleasure to return to Corpus Christi to invite the teachers and pupils to ‘Brighten Up’ for Harvest ahead of their Harvest Mass which will be celebrated in a week’s time.
“Mrs Biddlecombe introduced us and we began by lighting our candles to offer our assembly in prayer to God. We reflected on the beauty of the sunshine and the benefit it has on the crops at harvest time with the vibrant colours that are all around at this time of year. It was really impressive to hear the children tell us the Corporal Works of Mercy, as we recalled one of our previous visits.”
Patrick and Isobel started the assembly by explaining that they were going to ask the children to think about how food is grown. They asked everyone to put up their hands if they have ever grown anything to eat.
They 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 as many of the children knew, having grown their own fruit and vegetables at home. So Patrick and Isobel showed the students how CAFOD has helped a family living in Bolivia to have much better soil for growing their vegetables.
Santos and Joel (pictured below) 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 Patrick and Isobel 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 people dig, build a wall inside and fill with cow manure. Communities are given worms by CAFOD’s partner which they then add to the hole, keep damp and cover to protect the worms from the hot sun. Here is Elizabeth, Santos and Joel’s mother, beside their wormery (below). Patrick and Isobel also brought in their own ‘Wonder Worms’ in a tub of compost for the children to see.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 they would have previously been.
As Patrick and Isobel went on to explain, both boys help their parents with the work. Santos helps with the replanting, watering the plants and weeding. Joel 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.
Not only does the family now grow enough food for themselves, they also 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 Patrick and Isobel thanked the pupils for their enthusiasm and for their excellent responses. They then asked them to pray for the communities in the Altiplano and for all those who work with CAFOD and their partners in Bolivia.
Thank you to everyone at Corpus Christi Primary school and especially to Patrick and Isobel for sharing Santos and Joel’s story .
Explore how you can get Hands On and help the families in the Altiplano.