Sophie Harrington is CAFOD’s Diocesan Communications Officer for East Anglia. She joined Christine Walkden, Patrick Jamiru and a host of keen young gardeners for a day of digging deep in support of CAFOD’s Lent appeal.
It’s not every day you meet up with a TV gardener, some schoolchildren and an African charity worker to fight global hunger.
Clutching some cabbage seeds, we did just that at St Laurence’s Catholic Primary School in Cambridge to highlight CAFOD’s Dig Deep Lenten appeal.
The appeal reminds us that one in eight people in the world go hungry every day – but we CAN help.
The One Show’s gardening guru Christine Walkden shared her passion for plants with the children aged five to nine years old in the newly-formed gardening group.
She showed them exactly how to plant those cabbage seeds so they do the best they can.
Her visit coincided with that of CAFOD partner Patrick Jamiru from Sierra Leone, who came to the school to explain how – with their support to CAFOD – people in his region have transformed an abandoned diamond mine in fertile farmland. It’s helping people to overcome the hungry season in his country, which sees people struggle to find enough food for up to six months of the year.
Patrick encouraged the children to ‘dig deep’ with people in his own country and think how they can help the world’s poorest people.
He told them: “The land had been mined for diamonds in Sierra Leone and once they were not finding any, they went and left big holes with water in. They dug big, big holes and they had not filled their holes, they just left them like that.
“Our land is our mainstay and how we get our livelihood. To change it so that people could farm for themselves has helped them so much.”
He told the Cambridge pupils how children he knows, called Mohammed and Samai, have had their lives improved by the project. Even having the prospect of being able to attend school becoming a reality for them.
The children listened keenly and had a host of questions for both Patrick and Christine.
Christine told the young gardeners: “Without gardeners and farmers we would starve. It’s the gardeners and the farmers of the world that keep us alive. They also make the world beautiful. A gardener can make the world beautiful and grow food and what a privilege that is.”She added: “Growing plants is the same as growing people. What it requires is tender loving care. Without it neither will grow, develop and bloom.
“The children here today were very interested, very engaged and enquiring. It’s important that children know in this country how to grow food. We take so much for granted. It’s important for children to realise that there are places in the world where people do not have enough food to live.”
Teacher Barbara Quail said the visitors had both inspired her and the children.
Mrs Quail said: “We are the opposite to the children in Sierra Leone in some ways. We have enough food grown and we are now trying to help the children redevelop those skills that they have lost because the supermarkets sell everything they need. They should know where their food comes from and how lucky they are. How they can help others who are not so fortunate has been really brought to life to them.”
CAFOD volunteer, Mary Watkins, said: “I think it is an excellent project. It’s very exciting for the children to be involved in and important for them to learn where their fundraising goes. Patrick has been able to tell them first-hand.”
“I have helped at the school with CAFOD for about seven years and I know this is an experience the children will remember. It always amazes me what they remember from previous visits when we have told them about CAFOD’s work.”
Hopefully some seeds for thought were also planted that day.
The event brought press attention with Cambridge News and BBC Cambridgeshire Radio attending and playing a part in highlighting the scandal of global hunger.