Hello to all the pupils at Blanchelande College in Guernsey who marked the Year of Mercy this week by taking part in a special ‘Welcome the Outsider’ pilgrimage throughout the school grounds, prayer room and prayer garden.
Education Volunteer, Lucy Despres, told us,
“Firstly, the children thought about why people in the world might have to flee or leave their own country and take often very dangerous journeys. Pupils then thought about what they would like to be when they grew up and what sort of life they would like. The classes then watched the very similar hopes and dreams of some Syrian refugee children in the short film below.
“We then considered the fact that one in nine people will go to bed hungry tonight and that conditions for the world’s poorest people are being made worse by climate change which is hitting them first and hardest. We thought about people having to move away to look for ways to make a living and prayed for everyone who is hungry around the world and for people who have had to leave their homes because of climate change.
“Moving on to our next prayer stop, we looked at a passport and talked about the importance of having a national identity and the consequences for people who have had to leave their home country and arrive in a new foreign country looking for a new life.
“We reflected on all places where people are attacked for their beliefs or their colour or their nationality and prayed that everyone will live in harmony with each other and realise that they are all God’s children.
“At our next stop, we looked at what we were wearing and our school bags. We then imagined what it would be like if we were being forced to leave our homes by the sounds of fighting. What if we couldn’t pack and we just had to leave with these clothes and the few things in our bags, not knowing if we’d ever come home? We then prayed for refugees on long journeys, their safe passage and, at journey’s end, a true welcome.
“Finally, at our last prayer stop, we looked at a photo of a refugee family (see below) and the significance of the empty chair. The chair symbolises someone the family has lost on the journey. The children then thought about all the families and friends who have been separated by conflict and migration and prayed that they would soon be reunited.“We completed our reflection by writing messages of hope to refugees inspired by the Lampedusa Cross (pictured below).
“On the 3rd October 2013, a boat carrying 500 refugees from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the little island of Lampedusa between Tunisia and Sicily. Only 151 people survived. The local carpenter on Lampedusa met some of the survivors and then went and collected some of the wreckage of the boat. He made crosses for the survivors as a symbol of hope for the future.
“Inspired by this, the children were then invited to write or draw their own message of hope for refugees.”
CAFOD will dedicate their messages at a special Mass at the end of the Year of Mercy, and make sure they are shared with refugees through CAFOD’s and other networks.
Thank you so much to everyone at Blanchelande College for your continued support and to our Education Volunteer, Lucy Despres for sending us this photo and organising the session.