Jenny Seymour is a mum of 3 primary school children and a Schools Volunteer for CAFOD Hallam
What a morning! I can say that now with a smile on my face, as I’m sat here in the CAFOD office with a nice cup of coffee and sat in front of my computer. However, a couple of hours ago I wasn’t quite so calm….
It started off amazingly well (apart from my eldest who thinks he may be coming down with tonsilitis again!?!): all 3 children got up at the right time and the eldest two got themselves ready. However, my 3 year old was nervous about starting back to pre-school, so the socks were wrong, the polo shirt didn’t feel right and she couldn’t decide what to have for breakfast. We all sat down to a nice healthy meal of cereal, yoghurt and fruit – wonderful you say? It was for 3 minutes! Then, my youngest got a rubbery sticky toy stuck in her hair (at least I could get to brush it at the same time as disentangling her beautiful blond locks!) and exploded a yoghurt all over her nice clean uniform just as we were about to leave the house. It was a mad dash away from making and packing the packed lunches, up to the room to locate new clean uniform, try to get her re-dressed and persuade her that the seam really isn’t too rough and the label could be cut out!?! and at last we were ready to go……We actually (amazingly) still made it to school and pre-school on time – they all had a nice kiss from their mummy and all 3 seemed to walk in with smiles on their faces – no lasting harm done and I took a few deep breaths!!!
It’s only when I sat in the CAFOD office that I took stock and realised how lucky we are – at least my children all have a place in a local school, in our local community. Taking children, particularly girls, out of school in order to work is one way poor families in some countries in the Global South try to cope with financial hardship. Even if there are no school fees, many struggle to afford the necessary pencils, paper, shoes and clothes. This may help make ends meet in the short term, but the cost is huge in the long term. Even when working children manage to attend school, they will certainly attend less regularly and do less well than their peers.
In rich countries, people have an average of ten years of schooling; in developing countries the average is four. Poor transport and long distances to school make it even more difficult to attend.
Without the chance of a full education, children do not get the qualifications they need for decent jobs, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty into the next generation and beyond. Buying a CAFOD World Gift of education may go some well to help.
I feel extremely privileged, as a CAFOD Schools Volunteer, to be able to go into schools in my diocese and educate children about issues that are faced by their peers in the Global South. If just one child grows up to appreciate the difficulties that others face and to understand that we should all strive for a more just world for everyone as a result of our workshops and assemblies, then it makes small every day stresses we have more bearable.
Perhaps you could become a CAFOD schools volunteer. Just get in touch with your diocese CAFOD office. Here at CAFOD Hallam please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.