Sarah Burrows works in CAFOD’s Youth Team, and recently joined a group of eight youth leaders from retreat and outreach teams across the UK for a two day course run by CAFOD and Lee House experiential learning centre in the Diocese of Salford. The aim of the weekend was to experience life from the perspective of a community affected by climate change in Brazil. In this blog Sarah pulls together some group reflections of the experience, and the importance of speaking out against the injustices faced by many people living in poverty.
“‘Willingness to rough it was the phrase that called out to me during the lead up to a two-day refugee simulation to Lee House, near Preston. A leap into the unknown – a new adventure! Armed with a sleeping bag, lots of warm clothes (as instructed!) and a bundle of mixed emotions, I arrived at Preston train station to be greeted by Sarah from CAFOD’s Youth Team, Joe from Lee House and a group of other youth ministry volunteers from all corners of the country.” (Annie, Bosco Volunteer Action)
“We were shown just what it’s like to be forced off your own land, passed through a detention centre without understanding a single word of what is being shouted at you, and then being faced with legal charges for living on the land that you’ve lived on for generations. It gave me a real sense for the injustice that people are still facing in the world today.” (Tom, Animate Youth Ministries, Diocese of Liverpool)
“We got a grip of the scale of environmental issues and the great effect that they will have on future generations. It was a transformative experience; many of us felt incredibly challenged. It seemed to hit a nerve deep within me, emphasising a need to, and a want to, encourage a more sustainable, respectful lifestyle towards local communities.” (Annie, Bosco Volunteer Action)
“As a Catholic living in a community we often offer our prayers for the people living in these situations, but it’s still difficult for us to truly understand the hardships that vulnerable people are put through on a daily basis. Lee House helped me to develop my understanding of discrimination and exploitation. The greatest wave of empathy came to me after the simulation had finished. I got to sit in the lovely Lancashire countryside with my cup of tea – I was back to ‘normal’ life, but a lot of people in the world today are still facing this injustice.” (Jonny, Alton Castle, Diocese of Birmingham)
“It definitely helped me to think more about how my actions are affecting people all over the world too, through affecting the climate, and how I can help to raise awareness for those being treated so unfairly. It’s definitely something I’d do again, and I have a lot that I can take back to my work with young people.” (Hannah, The Briars, Diocese of Nottingham)
“It was a realistic and eye-opening simulation, the experience really helped us to see the urgent needed to find a solution to climate change, and it also highlighted the need for protection and preservation of the world we live in. Seeing the facts and figures and experiencing first-hand the knock on effects of climate change to those living in poverty, my eyes have been opened to this issue and I have been motivated to make a change, as every little effort counts.” (Sam, Alton Castle, Diocese of Birmingham)
Work with young people? Visit our education pages online to find resources to explore how people living in poverty are affected by climate change, and find campaign activities to help your students take action.