School Volunteers Dig Deep for Lent

A group of CAFOD school volunteers came together to find out more about the Lent Fast Day resources for schools. They will shortly be contacting schools in the Brentwood Diocese to arrange visits so this was a good opportunity to share their ideas and come up with interesting ways to engage pupils in primary schools and secondary schools with Sierra Leone and issues surrounding food security. We looked at the area of Kenema, in the east of the country.

Peter, Joan, John, Angela, Linda and Lesley

Peter, Joan, John, Angela, Linda and Lesley

We heard that Sierra Leone is rich in resources, particularly diamonds, but instead of benefiting poor communities, the presence of diamonds leads to more injustice and greater poverty, due to bad management by mining companies, and to conflict.

Kenema was fiercely fought over during the war because many of the swamps around it are rich in diamonds. Yet poverty is a fact of life here – 67 per cent of the people live on less than 60p a day. Small-scale diamond mining in swampland areas is not a good way to earn a living. You may find one diamond and feed your family for a month or two but there are a limited number of diamonds and you are unlikely to ever find another. Farming gives families greater long-term security than relying on luck to find a rare diamond.

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If you are interested in joining our Schools Volunteer team, inspiring children and young people to get involved with CAFOD and making a more just world, we are currently recruiting in the following areas: Newham, Redbridge, Havering, Waltham Forest and Barking. Please contact the office for more information brentwood@cafod.org.uk or phone 0208 502 9722

More about Lent Fast Day
With guidance from CAFOD’s partner, Caritas Kenema, and using funding from CAFOD supporters, Mohammed’s community has transformed diamond mines that caused so much fighting during the war into productive sites for growing food. This land is not traditionally cultivated but is ideal for growing rice, cashews and maize. Using swampland for farming also means that people no longer have to clear forests for farming. This helps to protect the environment for future generations.

“Swampland is more fertile for a variety of reasons. One of them is that when it rains, manure runs down into the swamp. Whereas traditional farmland can be harvested and planted maybe once or twice, the swamp can be used all year round.” Edward Musa, Caritas Kenema

CAFOD has worked in Sierra Leone since the 1970s. In 2006 we opened an office in the capital, Freetow, from which the programme team manages our work in Sierra Leone and in Liberia.

Please Dig Deep this Lent:

£20 can buy a wheelbarrow for a farmer to transport food from their land to home
£50 can provide tools for 10 farmers to clear their land
£76 can pay for a trainer to teach a farmer how to cultivate swampland
£160 can pay a mother-child health worker’s salary for one month

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