Messy Favela!

What would it be like to survive on a $1 a day?

That was what the children and families attending St Bartholomew’s, Chipping Messy Church were able to experience on Saturday afternoon. Teaming up with local charity Volunteer in Brazil the children swapped the usual craft, singing and worship of a typical Messy Church for shelter building, making water filters and cooking pancakes on an open fire. This was all part of the “Favela Experience” held at Lee House, Thornley which enables children and adults to better understand the difficulties faced by families in Brazil as they migrate from a life of poverty in the north of the country in search of a better life in large cities like Rio. During the afternoon the children and families were encouraged to act out the story of trying to build and set up new homes and communities, struggling with lack of money, being evicted from their property and trying to fight to remain in their homes through the court system. The experience ended with a short act of worship around the campfire, with prayers for those living in hardship around the world and donations were given towards the work of the charity. The afternoon was one of hundreds of Crossroads Mission events throughout Blackburn Diocese this weekend.

Rev Fiona Jenkins of St Bartholomew's helps construct emergency shelters

Rev Fiona Jenkins of St Bartholomew’s helps construct emergency shelters


The trustees  were delighted to host the event and would like to thank volunteers Agnes Bland, Dianne Ngoza and Helen Turner for their help and support.

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Ambassadors’s challenge

IMG_3098A group of CAFOD Ambassadors ‘walked a mile’ in the shoes of an indigenous community ejected from their land by a logging company.

VinB trustees and supporters organised a simulation activity for CAFOD Ambassadors at Lee House. The simulation was based on the experience of indigenous communities living in the Amazon who face expulsion from their ancestral homelands by logging companies and land grabbers.

The simulation began with living the daily routines of the community, collecting fire wood, fetching water, making herbal medicine and shelters as well as entering into the ethos of a greater sense of connected-ness with all living beings.

The tranquility of oneness with nature was broken by the arrival of a logging company with documents that laid claim to vast areas of the forest. The felling of trees began as the community was ejected from the land. Imprisonment followed in the cold, dark cellar of the house. From the prison cell the community was marched to a court room where they defended their right to live in the disputed area of the rain forest.

“A truly transformative experience – thank you so much; Thanks for a fantastic experience;Thanks for an eye opening experience; Thank you for such a worthwhile and incredible; experience; Thank you so much for having us and giving us a very thought provoking personal experience; Thank you so much. It has been a heartfelt experience”
Just some of the comments received from the Ambassadors.




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Learning the indigenous way

Children from St Thomas’s Primary School in Garstang experience some of the customs, culture and challenges facing indigenous communities living in the Amazon Rain Forest at Lee House in the forest of Bowland.

Preparing for prayer

Preparing for prayer

Living in harmony with nature and humanity is not easy when  land grabbers and loggers see £’s and $’s where you see beauty, life and interdependence.

Standing up for your rights, resolving conflict without violence, living simply and giving thanks for the beauty, bounty and wonder of nature were just some of values experienced by the children of St Thomas’s Primary School.

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Just watching helps

Help young women to access education in Pakistan; each time you watch the presentation Sliderocket will donate to the Hoshyar-Foundation, a charity which supports the education of women.

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The deception of education

examResultsLooks like these youngsters are the winners with much to celebrate, but not according to one American student who argues a very different perspective.

We work and we borrow in order to borrow. And the jobs we work towards are the jobs we already have. Close to three quarters of students work while in school, many full time; for most, the level of employment we obtain while students is the same that awaits after graduation. Meanwhile, what we acquire isn’t education; it’s debt. We work to make money we have already spent, and our future labor has already been sold on the worst market around.[….} What we learn is the choreography of credit[…] Yesterday’s finance majors buy their summer houses with the bleak futures of today’s humanities majors. This is the prospect for which we have been preparing since grade-school.

An extract from  Learning  Futures (2011)  Keri Facer

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Malala spoke for 57 million children

world at school 2
A World at School  is one of the organisations  that campaigns for the right of children to education; it was instrumental in convening Malala Day at the United Nations.  Now they  are supporting  the Nigerian President’s commitment to education and asking each of us to sign the petition on behalf of children who need a voice.

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Learning from the children

A wonderful lesson in the wise stewardship of creation was given to us  by the children from St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chipping,  as part of the  second  Hungry for Change Challenge days  funded by CAFOD and delivered by VinB trustees and volunteers.

The day began by introducing them to an indigenous culture in which all living things are seen as an integral part of their community, such that they name the trees, give thanks for all that nature provides and take from the natural world only what they need. A lovely example of how the children demonstrated their understanding of this deep respect for nature occurred  after they were introduced to ‘Chi Chi’ a chicken that was sitting  on six eggs.  When the time came for the children to hunt for food for lunch, and by this time they were very hungry, they took just three of the eggs leaving the other three to hatch and continue the cycle of life. Later they discovered that the market trader with whom they were bartering had taken the other three eggs. The children were outraged!  After telling the market trader what they thought of him they set about working as hard as they could to purchase the eggs. Having worked hard and forfeited food for themselves they bought the eggs and immediately returned them to the chicken.

The children went on to learn about land grabbing, unfair trading practices and the role international development agencies play in supporting the poor and marginalised.  They also taught us how readily children empathise with nature given the opportunities to do so.

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What price education?

Each school day Silvia spends three hours making the 14km journey to and from school; alone and in her flip flops!



It’s a journey that involves crossing shrubland that contains hidden dangers, like snakes. Once she reaches the road there are other hazards to negotiate. The heavy traffic in the dry season throws up choking clouds of dust and in the wet season the poor drainage floods the roads in places causing Silvia to wade waist deep in muddy water.  She could avoid the road and take the rail track but this is more remote and she risks been kidnapped by people offering to give her a lift to school.

Even though I don’t enjoy the journey, and sometimes find it very scary, I am willing to do whatever it takes for me to get a good education.   Silvia

The school that she attends is run by Plan, an international aid agency, and while it’s been free to attend primary schools in Tanzania since 2001 only 32% of girls will continue into fee paying secondary education (UNESCO).

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Malala’s UN speech

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