Flame leaps from Australia to South Africa to Sierra Leone
The first Edmund Rice Camp in the Christian Brothers District of West Africa was conducted recently at Blama in eastern Sierra Leone. The inspiration came mainly from some of the young brothers who, in the course of their novitiate programes in South Africa, had experienced Edmund Rice Camps and returned to West Africa with a huge passion to see similar activities happening at home. The Camp was organised by Brothers Augustine Kamara, Anthony Bangura, and Michael Boima, with other CBs - Paul, Ray, and Andrew – also involved as leaders and maximum support from ERN Co-ordinator Brother Albert Gomez. A young man by the name of Joe Bishop, an ex-pupil of the Brothers in England, had briefly visited the District early last year, and had re-awakened interest in Edmund Rice Camps. Joe’s visit had been cut short when his father was involved in a car accident back home. Since he left, he’s been communicating with the three brothers to see the dream come true. At the District’s December assembly, there was a strong resolution to establish Edmund Rice Camps, and the DLT made it a strong priority. Augustine Kamara takes up the story…
Anthony De Mello writes that “children are in their best when they experience love”. There is nothing in this world of ours today that is so important than to show some one that you love and care for him or her. Our earth is crying for someone to hear its disappointments, frustrations, and neglects. We are called to be there and listen to it, and to respond positively by doing something. Even doing something small that will bring positive change is a possibility not only for some but for everyone. Our playing low can not help the situation of our world’s huge problems and suffering.
Our founder Blessed Edmund Rice was an attentively listener to what was happening around him and responded positively in changing the lives of the poor children of his time in Waterford. He showed them the love, care, and concern they needed as persons. He helped them to deeply realize the God-image that was in them, so they could stand upright in their societies and communities. Today we allow ourselves to be ‘socked’ by his example and infused with his charism as we try to reach out to the poor and marginalized children of our communities.
The recent weekend Edmund Rice Camp in Blama grew out of this spirit, demonstrating that Edmund is still present and doing wonderful things in the lives of the young. The camp attracted ten children and six leaders. The energy and zeal that was demonstrated by both leaders and ‘buddies’ was a sure signal that Edmund Rice Camps have come to stay, and that they will yield good fruits that will last.
The positive interaction and cooperation between the leaders and buddies over these few days, and the genuine give-and-take of ideas, made the whole program absorbing and memorable. There was a lot of fun, laughter, and dancing.
It was a new concept altogether for the buddies, but toward the end of the camp they came to realize that they needed something like this in their lives. Most of the kids were touched and expressed a wish to have more days at the camp. It was a reminder of the saying of Mother Teresa that “our world today is not yearning for shelter, food, and clothing, but our world today is yearning and longing for love”.
It was incredible to see the buddies demonstrating their artistic talents and gifts with little supervision from the leaders. The camp was able to discover these talents and gifts, and to encourage them strongly to continue to develop these as they go on in life. Activities such as team work, trust, support, and building self-esteem were introduced since the children coming on camp have little or no idea as to how to work with others in their communities. The activities were geared toward creating a sense of awareness of the huge potentials that lies in them that they should not let go down the drain. They left the camp fulfilled, energized, full of hope, and with a new awareness of their potential.
Sure, as our 2008 Chapter reminded us, the time is now, the place is here, and we are the people to respond to the cry of our marginalized brothers and sisters.
Augustine Kamara cfc
Assistant ERN Co-ordinator
published February 2010