St Michael and St John’s Primary School, Clitheroe, Year of Mercy and Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking featured in lessons for Years 6 at St Michael and St John’s Primary School, Clitheroe on 8 February.
Our Deanery, St John Southworth has adopted trafficking as it social justice activity for the Year of Mercy and Zoe Mabbott, Head Teacher at St Michael and St John’s took the opportunity to link human trafficking lessons with the arrival of the Holy Door in Clitheroe.
St Augustine sees Mercy as: “the heartfelt compassion for the misery of another person, which urges us to help as much as possible”, and so the Holy Door is not only a route to Divine Mercy but to a realisation that we too need to be merciful. “The one who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the whole law…therefore love of neighbour is the fulfilling of the law” (Laudato Si). The Holy Door was also used to highlight escape from the slavery in biblical times and the plight of modern day refugees.
The lessons were delivered by Mr Connolly, Deputy Head. The day started with material from the Year 5 syllabus: The Way the Truth and the Life and Year 6s had a lesson about St Bakhita “to know about a saint who spent time as a slave”. The story of St Bakhita introduces the topic gently and is far as most primary schools go if they broach the subject of trafficking at all. The emphasis is on the experience and suffering of St Bakhita and the kindness she subsequently received which led to her conversion to Catholicism and a life of humility:
“I was surprised that St Josephine [Bakhita] is so forgiving to other after all she has been through…..I think that St Bakhita will want us to know how she has suffered and consider ourselves lucky. Also, St Josephine must want us to treat our parents with as much respect as we can, because she got took away from hers.”
The Salvation Army Primary School lessons used by Mr Connolly for Year 6 go further and St Michael and St John’s may be the first primary school in the Diocese to cover the topic in this depth.
In the morning the lessons used a Salvation Army Key Stage 2 Power Point presentation and the story of Victor.
Victor lives in Malawi and used to live a normal life with his family, his friends and his toys. But the family was poor and one a man came and told Victor’s mum that Victor, who was still very young, that Victor could help his family by earning money working on a farm in his spare time. He could still go to school and would be well looked after. But it wasn’t like that. Victor started early and looked after two large herds of cows. He got one simple meal, no school, no fresh clothes, no time to wash, and no money. Victor had been trafficked.
The lesson covered the stages of Rescue, Restore and Respond
- Rescue: When he was twelve some people found him and took him away from the farm to a Salvation Army Counselling Place, where they gave him food and clothes.
- Restore: They helped him feel safer and a doctor and a therapist helped him. Victor got to play again and go to school. It had been so long he had forgotten how to read and write but he started to feel himself again.
- Respond: Victor’s family were taught how bad Victor’s life on the farm had been and were given help with earning money so Victor wouldn’t be trafficked again. Things were changed so that Victor’s life and the life of his family is so much better.
But it just doesn’t happen in Malawi. It is estimated that approximately one million children across the world every year are involved in trafficking.
Over lunch the Year 6s did an exercise in pairs where one child was a “master” and one child was a “slave”. After lunch they described their feeling about how they felt in the role plays. The rest of the day was prayers and thoughts and artwork for the Hall. The prayers offered to the children as examples (thanks to Katie Wiggin) were:
- Dear God, pray for the men, women and children who work in countries that do have laws to protect their workers. Pray for all of the people who work in the clothing trade that if they see people being treated unfairly that they have the courage to speak out and help those who have no voice.
- Dear Lord, pray for all the families in countries such as India where by so many people are trapped in a life of slavery working in places like the rice mills and brick factories and can see no way out. Pray that they are rescued and set free from the jobs that they are trapped in.
- Dear Lord, thank you for all of the hard work that people around the world are doing to help people that are trapped in slavery. We ask Jesus to help give them the strength that they need to continue with the difficult work that they are doing.
- Dear Lord, we play for all of the families across the world that are searching for their lost children. We pray that they are found and returned safely to their families.
- Dear Lord, we pray for all of the children that are forced to work in the coco fields. We pray that the owners of the cocoa fields make the changes that are needed to protect children and keep them safe.
- Dear Lord, we pray for Meena who lives in Nepal as she continues to heal from after being rescued from being a house slave. We play that through Jesus she can feel safe knowing that she has somebody on her side that she can always talk to when she is scared.
- Dear Lord, we pray for all those people that are involved in slavery that they receive God’s help and are able to see that what they are doing is wrong and that it is never too late to led God enter into your life and do the right thing.
- Dear Lord, we pray for us all, that we with your help have the courage and strength to stand up for what we know is right and live our lives knowing that we are doing all we can to help those in need and that through your help we can encourage others to stand up for what is right and just.
Examples of prayers and thoughts that the children came up with were:
- Please help all those who have been trafficked. Help them who are being forced to work and having a difficult time without their family. This is not right, it needs to stop now. We are there to help. Amen
- Trafficking is using other people – that’s forcing them to work for you so you can gain from them – is completely the opposite of what Christians believe. Love your neighbour means treat everyone the same with kindness and love.
- “Love your neighbour”. That means you don’t need to marry them it means help if they are having a difficult time.
- Dear Lord, I can see that there is bad all around the world and I would love to stop it by being more grateful because a lot of people like Victor’s story is happening every day and it is so sad so please help them. Amen
- He needs to be saved because he has been kidnapped by someone and is not getting what he was promised. He’s not getting an education. He’s about yr6 and is hurt and his owner doesn’t care. They changed things by giving his family money.
- O mighty god help those people who don’t really understand the danger of the traffickers. Amen
- Victor was restored because he was seeing a therapist to calm him down after what he went through, this will make him more confident. A slave is a person who is forced to do something that is usually against their will. Victors family got brought back together and given food and money from Salvation Army. Victor needed saving because he wasn’t getting the right education and he was going to get ill and catch infections. Also he is injured and upset.
23 November 2015
We met with Zoe Mabbott, Head Teacher at St Michael and St John’s Catholic Primary School, Clitheroe to discuss possible activities to raise awareness on modern day slavery during the Year of Mercy. The Year of Mercy Holy Door comes to the school on February
12 which coincides nicely with the Feast of St Bahkhita on February 8. We referred to an example of a video for young children, Meena, The Girls Came Back. This is an episode from the animation film Meena, focus on child trafficking. The film portrayed how vicious people enticed women and children for jobs and trafficked them into the city to work as prostitutes and child labour. The film highlights these issues in a very compelling way to create a clear impact and create social awareness. We also referred to Primary school lessons (Salvation Army) . Zoe will explore ideas such as prayers and sessions with Mr Connolly as part of social justice teaching.