Often we feel powerless to do anything in the face of great need. Sometimes this feeling comes from nervousness to step outside our comfort zone and other times it is simply from not knowing where to start. But as expressed by fellow student Alex in the Catholic Action Program, “…we can talk about the issues all we want, but it is the actions we take that count”.
As a school community we try to find avenues and opportunities for action that reflect our Benedictine values and encompass the principles of Catholic social teaching and most importantly, impact constructively on the issues being addressed.
One area of need that the Mater Christi College community has been passionate about addressing this year has been the plight of refugees, both the treatment of those held in detention and the struggles that continue to be felt once they are settled in Australia.
As a part of the VCAL program, the College vegetable patches have been used to grow fresh produce to give to the Asylum Resource Centre. By donating the fresh produce, the human dignity of those who receive it is being respected as they are given the opportunity of choice.
A Circle of Silence was also held in August to help bring awareness to the treatment of refugees in offshore detention centres. This activity was attended by dozens of students who felt passionate about this issue.
Another way we have shown support and solidarity for refugees was to raise funds for the purchase of a #KidsOffNauru Banner to display around the school. Activities such as these are important because there is strength in numbers with people who also wish to make a difference.
Being informed about social justice issues and ways to respond within a supportive school environment also builds confidence and encourages future initiatives and actions.
Another campaign we pursued this year was drought relief for farmers. A Year 10 student felt passionately about this issue so she organised a “dress like a farmer” day to raise funds for the ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign. This was a highly successful event which brought together the school community in support of fellow Austalians in need. Events like these affect the dynamic of the College community as they foster the growth of compassion, empathy and selflessness through participation in activities aimed at working for the common good.
Social justice campaigning and support is an important part of our College as it teaches us about our world and ways we can help those in need. It also brings the College closer as a community because “…you can talk the talk, but until you walk the walk, you will never understand the heart of the matter”.
Alannah McPeake – College Co Captain