The grade 7/8 class at Christ the King have been exploring the ideas of change - we have the power to be agents of change, to create change, to make a difference in the world. The students have been researching and discussing what that looks like locally and globally and now is the time to ask ourselves - Do we like the people we are becoming? How can we make a difference? Together with ideas of peace, empathy, and compassion they have been learning that it starts with us. It starts small. It starts at home.
In October, the students discovered "Free The Children" and Craig Kielburger's charity and background. They streamed "Me to We: WE Day" live from Toronto and new thinking emerged: if those students our age can make a difference about these local and global issues, why can't we? The students began exploring social justice issues locally and globally and learned about poverty issues, educational problems, and issues of war. The students were moved by the things they were learning, things they couldn't imagine happening globally AND locally. They wanted to make a difference somehow, someway, but couldn't zero in on one specific thing - yet.
In December and January the students began studying migration, migration patterns, child soldiers, and they were introduced to the work of Emmanuel Jal- the war child. Emmanuel Jal, an ex child soldier rescued from Sudan, was born into war and violence. Recruited for the SPLA, Jal was only 8 years old when he began training as a child soldier. He experienced nightmarish events we couldn't even dream of. He now travels the world telling his story of pain and suffering through his words and hip hop music. He famously sings, "Where would I be if you didn't rescue me?" referring to the aid worker that rescued him from Sudan. Now a national recording artist, actor and humanitarian, Emmanuel Jal's story resonated with the students at Christ The King. He believes that the pathway to peace is through the power of education. One of his charities, GUA Africa, builds schools in his home country of Sudan, sending Sudanese children to school which provides them with an education they otherwise wouldn't receive. Where would these children be if they are not rescued? Where would these children be if they don't learn? "Without education, revolution cannot happen", states Jal.
The students at CTK believe in Jal and his message. They want to join in his journey and bring awareness to his global campaign here at home, to make a difference.
A Lenten project is born: The plan
The grade 7/8 class is challenging their school board. Their goals include:
- Sharing Emmanuel Jal's story to other students which in turn brings awareness through an empathetic lens to the Sudanese child soldiers and sheds light on their situation
- Spreading Jal's message of peace: Education is the pathway to peace - knowledge is power
- Raise money for Emmanuel Jal's charity GUA Africa
- Inspire others to be the change, get involved, and make a difference somewhere, someway
In February, each school within the St. Clair Catholic District School Board (26 elementary, 2 secondary, 1 board office, and 1 local parish) will receive a school house piggy bank, made by the CTK students. The students will challenge each school/office to fill the piggy bank with donations to support GUA Africa, Jal's message and jump on the pathway to Peace for Sudan by supporting and promoting education. Each school will also receive an information package with detailed information surrounding Jal and his story, GUA Africa, and other items to raise awareness of this issue.