Christian Brothers prepare young adults to serve
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We are born to make manifest of the glory of God that is within us. It is not only in some but in everyone.” (quoted by Nelson Mandela in his autobiography)
“I now understood that life is not a spectator sport, that we are not its victims, but its co-creators. I also understood that children call us forth into what Martin Luther King Jr. named ‘soul force’, the strength of the heart to love even in the face of the most difficult circumstances.” (Dawna Markova)
These words clearly resonated with the passionate young people who came from the four corners of Sierra Leone to attend a recent workshop in Bo. This training for future leaders of Edmund Rice Camps was another step towards tapping skills of our young lay people in service of the wellbeing and dignity of our less-privileged children. Clearly there are many young people out there who want to make a difference in the lives of our marginalized brothers and sisters. I was greatly impressed by the cooperation and zeal shown during those three days; participants genuinely manifested the spirit and glory of God that is in them. We felt very confident in the young people who will soon shoulder the responsibility of looking after our Edmund Rice Camps here in West Africa. Read what some of them wrote at the end of the training…
I was touched with the story of Edmund Rice in his efforts of bringing hope and joy to the vulnerable children of his time. I am happy that the Christian Brothers are emulating his footsteps. Edmund Rice Camps are purposefully geared towards bringing hope, happiness, and laughter to needy children. Sadly, many of the children that come on camp have been sexually or physically abused by either their parents or neighbors; so providing the necessary love that they deserve will help to restore their lost hope and confidence. I am very much happy that the workshop provided me with the tools that are needed to achieve such a daunting task. (Marian Jusufu Tucker from Bo)
I felt nourished and filled with the gift of working as a team. I was so impressed with the ERC rules and responsibilities that govern the camps. The children that we are called to serve are ‘broken’ so it is upon us to give them renewed strength by just being good examples. I hope to take this training into my own community and make a difference. (Raymond Maxwell from Makeni)
I am looking forward to participating in Edmund Rice Camps so that I will have the chance to make a difference in a child’s life. Learning carefully the roles, responsibilities, protection and camp scenarios will help me on camp. The focus is on children that are coming on camp and all attention should be provided for them. Through unconditional love, they need to be supported and affirmed in their struggle to find meaning in their lives. Long live the Edmund Rice Network in West Africa. (Juliana Jariatu Paulina Koroma from Freetown)
I felt very good being with others, playing games together, making fun and sharing life together - an opportunity I lack in my normal environment. The workshop gave me a different view of life. I have learnt a lot about how to look after children and pay attention to their feelings and self esteem building. (Sylvia Koroma from Freetown)
No matter one’s religion or background, the Edmund Rice Network is ready to receive that individual heartily. The network has interest in uplifting the lives of neglected, marginalized, and deprived children. I am looking forward to a camp where I will give back what I have learnt. (John Macarthy from Bo)
The facilitators were full of fun, respect, love, and a sense of care for the participants. I was so impressed. It has inspired me to love unconditionally and to go beyond myself. I have gained a lot and I want to give back. (Francis Koroma from Makeni)
Working as a team will give the disadvantaged children who are coming on camp the love, care, and support they need to build up their self-esteem and help them become good citizens. (Martha Se Williams from Bo)
I found it difficult to associate myself with children with disabilities, but this training has made it simple for me to avail myself to such children. They are created in the image of God and they should be loved and taken care of. I was so happy to have that awareness. I was blind but now I have seen. (Albert Fofanah from Makeni)
This workshop has greatly improved my way of thinking and acting. Oh! If I were able to be involved even in one camp, I would be the happiest being on earth. I want to contribute meaningfully to our disadvantaged brothers and sisters and to disseminate these beautiful ideas to other people in my community. (Emmanuel Francis Palmer from Blama)
We left the workshop with these words, again from Dawna Markova:
Let us swing wide all the doors and windows
of our hearts on their rusty hinges
so we may learn how to be open in love.
Let us see the light in the other and honour it
so we lift one another on our shoulders
and carry each other along.
Let holiness move in us
so we may pay attention to its small voice
and give ourselves fully with both hands.
Christian Brothers Augustine Kamara and Albert Gomez (ERN office)