One Sunday 6 years ago, I was invited to go along to Noddfa retreat centre, Penmaenmawr to be involved in a Potato Day. Katja (who had organised the day) had been out to Bolivia and had seen first-hand the effect poverty, and lack of food had on the people out there. I was 15 when this started in 2007, and attended many of the youth retreats and CAFOD days. I had always said when I was older I would love to be on the other side of the programme delivering the fun and more reflective workshops.
In the Summer 2007 Potatoes had been sown, and they were dug out the following October where we met and had a day themed around the potato and the ‘live simply’ campaign. The ‘Potato day’ became an annual gathering, where the youth of the diocese (me included) came together and got involved in a day of fun themed around a particular CAFOD campaign.
Last Sunday 22nd September we gathered at Noddfa but this time I had the experience of being on the leadership team. Katja and Anne represented CAFOD and as well as them, there were members of staff representing two Schools in the diocese, an ex-youth worker, a Priest and of course the Sisters at Noddfa who all played a major part in the day being such a success. There were youth from the age of 13-18 from different schools and parishes of the diocese.
The Potato day this year had the theme ‘Live Simply, so others may simply live’ and as always we began with the sign of the cross to remind us of why we were sharing this special day together. We had refreshments and Ice Breakers before the CAFOD team delivered the ‘IF’ campaign. Lunch was provided by the Sisters of Noddfa which is always a delight and the children and adults all got chance to chat and share stories of previous visits to the potato day. We were invited to explore the gardens, and we were extremely fortunate in that it was a glorious day. We were then led in a workshop ‘if the world was a potato’ we shrank the universe 195 million times smaller and the youth group discussed the size of planets in relation to the potato (earth). The focus was fabulous and the children were buzzing! then they were brought back to ‘earth’ and looked at pictures taken from space of the effect our lifestyles and wastefulness has on the earth. We had the Annual group photo, and then ended the day with a reflection. During the reflection I invited each person to make a pledge, that they would change one thing they do that will impact upon saving our world such as, using less water when we shower, recycling more etc. We ended the day in the same way we began with the sign of the cross and then shared tea and cake before the journey home.
The day was a real hit as it always is, and the children really seemed to enjoy themselves. As an aspiring RE teacher it is extremely rewarding seeing so many people passionate about making a difference and passing their own enthusiasm onto the children, who are always the most important factor of the day. Hopefully the messages given and enthusiasm will be taken back to the schools and parishes so that we have many more successful ‘Potato Days’ and we will see if the pledges are kept this time next year.