Year 10 students at Tauranga’s Aquinas College took up the Caritas Challenge to raise funds for Kiribati, just north of Fiji. This island nation is facing problems caused by climate change. While the students were successful in raising much needed funds, they learnt about the wider issue of climate change and how to support important social justice causes.
The problems that Kiribati is facing are complex. Rising sea levels mean that in less than 50 years it will be underwater, the country essentially at risk of disappearing. In the short-term, problems of salt contamination of ground water is having a flow on effect for food production for residents and their animals. Homes and communities are also under increasing risk of flooding.
“It’s made me determined to visit Kiribati so that I can see first-hand both the problems they are facing but also how our fund-raising efforts have been put to good use”, commented Year 10 student Daniel Nirmalaraj.
Fellow student, Michelle Clayton was surprised how easy it was to start a social justice project.
“Being part of the Caritas Challenge showed me that its not difficult to take up a project you feel passionate about. The sense of satisfaction I have from helping out is amazing. I will definitely take part in the Challenge again next year.”
Almost $3,000 was raised by the students from a week of activities including information stalls, a bake sale, lolly jar guessing competition and an online quiz to test student’s knowledge about climate change. 70 Children took part in a ‘Silence for Justice’ day to draw attention to the issues facing the Kiribati community.
“Can we really not hear them or do we choose not to?” commented Sinead Manning who helped to coordinate the week’s activities. “The people are coping with environmental problems that they did not cause. As their neighbours in the Pacific it’s our job to listen and take action. That’s what we did.”