‘On the Move’ helps young people share a refugee’s journey

On the Move’ is an exciting interactive way for children and young people to share a refugee family’s journey to safety. It is a great way for our young people to experience a little of what it means to leave your home and seek refuge in another country.

Students working on the 'On the Move' exercises. They were prompted to work as a family and learn what a refugee's journey would look like.

Students working on the ‘On the Move’ exercises. They were prompted to work as a family and learn what a refugee’s journey would look like.

As part of a day organised by Southwark Diocesan Education Commission, helped by CAFOD School Volunteers, students were invited to take part in the ‘On the Move’ activity. Maria Chiara, a CAFOD volunteer from Italy joined the children and here she describes how they were led through a family’s journey to safety.

“The young people were grouped into refugee families and chose who would be mum, dad, granny or children.

We asked them to imagine they could hear the sound of gunfire and fighting nearby. They had to escape quickly, not knowing when they’d return and were given ten minutes to pack a bag with only six items from a chosen list. They thought carefully about what they really needed – passport, basket of food, or family photos? – and discussed it with the rest of their family.

Student's traveled to Geraldine Mary Garden on their journey, through passport control and were faced with situations to simulate what a refugee may have to go through.

Student’s traveled to Geraldine Mary Garden on their journey, through passport control and were faced with situations to simulate what a refugee may have to go through.

They passed through a symbolic passport control area. I played the role of a police officer – speaking to them aggressively in Italian and turning away anyone without a passport. Most of the students did not understand what I was saying, so they were left confused. Some offered me bribes to let them through. Then I let them out and sent them on to the nearby park.

In the park, they climbed into a symbolic wooden truck. They thought how unhappy they’d feel watching their home disappear into the distance as the terrifying journey began. They imagined how uncomfortable and frightening it would be on hard, narrow seats, the driver speeding up a steep climb into the mountains.

They were told there was something wrong with the truck’s engine when it ground to a halt with a mighty bang. Now they had to travel on foot. But the bags were too heavy. They had two minutes to decide what to leave behind. The sun grew hotter, the journey got harder and harder. When a family member fell and couldn’t carry their bag the students had three minutes to decide more items to be discarded.

The activity helped the students think about what it must be like to struggle on unmade roads, exhausted, thirsty and hungry with the sun beating down, to have to support the injured and elderly. They had to cut through a dense forest and make life and death decisions every step of the way until they experienced the joy of seeing the fishing boats. But the journey wasn’t over. Payments had to made to the fishermen and the boats were too small so they had to discard more items and their families split up.

Even when they set sail, the sea was stormy and rough, the boat leaked, more of their

At the end of the journey the students reflected on what they learned and experienced as the simulated the journey of refugees.

At the end of the journey the students reflected on what they learned and experienced as the simulated the journey of refugees.

possessions were ruined.

But at last they saw land with the hope for peace and safety.

Families were reunited in the park’s Peace Garden, where they took a moment to reflect quietly and pray for those who have to do the journey for real.

Back in Amigo Hall the students talked about their experience and made plans for how they could pass on their learning to others in their schools. They were commissioned, had their plans blessed and were presented with a Romero Cross at a sending forth liturgy in St George’s Cathedral.

It was a great opportunity for the children to get involved with CAFOD. Hopefully it could inspire them to becoming a voice for social justice in their own schools.”

‘On the Move’ was started in Amigo Hall at St. Georges Cathedral. 60 pupils from seven different Southwark schools took part in the day from St. John Fisher, St. John’s, St. Mary’s, St. Michael’s, St. Matthew’s Academy, St. Catherine’s, and Sacred Heart.

If you’d like to find out about becoming a CAFOD school volunteer you can:

* call on 020 8466 9901 * email southwark@cafod.org.uk

 

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