By: Joel Chiutsi, Vice-Principal, and Jeanne Morson, Chaplain
St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School’s chaplaincy team, JAM (Jesus and Me) was inspired this past Lent to respond to Jesus’ Gospel invitation to love one another by reaching out in a tangible way to our young brothers and sisters attending Primary School in Gumbu, Zimbabwe.
Gumbu is located in the southern part of Zimbabwe, some 450 km south-east of Harare, the capital city. This remote drought-prone area is home to some of Zimbabwe’s most impoverished population. Severe droughts in recent years, partly due to global warming and shifting weather patterns, have often resulted in massive loss of human livelihoods due to unproductive subsistence agricultural modes of production. As a result, many people remain trapped in the poverty cycle of subsistence farming.
Gumbu Primary School is a middle-size elementary school with an enrolment averaging 500 students. While education is generally the only hope for children in this area to step out of the poverty trap, many families cannot afford the relatively low school fees. As a result, many students, especially girls, are forced to drop out of school at an early age. Sadly, the country’s reality does not match the passion of most students, most of whom are very eager to get an education and often travel great distances of up to 10 km a day to attend school.
Throughout Lent, each homeroom class at St. Jean de Brebeuf was given a small collection can and challenged to raise $20, which is the equivalent of one year’s tuition at Gumbu Primary School. The final JAM tally, with all communal and personal contributions, came to an extraordinary collection of $2,100. This translated into the sponsorship of 50 Grade 5 students at Gumbu Primary School for four years – a life altering possibility!
Jam thanks all of the staff and students who put prayer into action this Lent. We continue, as a community of Catholic faith to be inspired by our Holy Father, Pope Francis:
We know that our young people have a huge capacity to feel the suffering of others and engage in actions of solidarity. This social sensitivity…should nevertheless be educated to become a solidarity which reflexively discovers and unmasks the link between obviously painful and unjust situations and the ideologies and practices that produce or reproduce them… The only way to counteract the pervasive consumerism and competitive individualism presently undermining the life of our people is to reconstruct the values of a solidarity and sense of community from the experience of authentic human encounters, illuminated by the Gospel.
Let us trust in God’s work. With God we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses.
-- Excerpt from: A Year With Pope Francis.