PLANTING SEEDS – Val Merchant

PLANTING SEEDS – Val Merchant

Father Lacombe School recognizes Lent

As we are now well into Lent, Father Lacombe School is recognizing the Christian season of sacrifice and repentance

As we are now well into Lent, Father Lacombe School is recognizing the Christian season of sacrifice and repentance by undertaking a series of projects to benefit developing countries.

On March 14, Val Merchant, Development and Peace school liaison for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, paid a visit to Father Lacombe School and led a series of workshops where he taught each of the classes how to be more responsible on a global scale. Merchant said the goal of the workshops was to expose children to the ideas of global responsibility and social justice so those ideas grow within the children as they do.

“This is planting a seed in fertile ground,” said Merchant. He added that, even though at the younger ages the children might not be old enough to completely understand the work of Development and Peace, it is much easier to reach them while they are younger.

Development and Peace is an organization supported by the Canadian Catholic Church dedicated to promoting alternatives to unfair social, political and economic structures.

Meanwhile, to ensure the students can relate to the message Merchant presented last week, each of the workshops was tailored to each age group. The youngest students were told the Bible’s creation story and how everyone is responsible for God’s creation.

Older students participated in an activity where they built a Play-Doh village on top of a chocolate chip cookie and then tried to mine out the chocolate chips with toothpicks. This exercise teaches students how difficult it can be to harvest resources without damaging the environment and surrounding communities.

In addition to the workshops, each of the school’s classes is collecting loose coin as part of Development and Peace’s Change for Change program. Junior high students participated in a 24-hour fast to raise money and awareness for Development and Peace as part of the organization’s THINKfast program.

These projects are related to Development and Peace’s annual Share Lent campaign. Share Lent raises awareness about Development and Peace and its mission by encouraging people to stand in solidarity with those throughout the world who are less fortunate.

Merchant got involved with Development and Peace after retiring from teaching. He was looking for a way to give back to the world in the area of social justice and went to a workshop on Development and Peace.

“I was really impressed with their approach to doing things in third world countries.”

That approach is not about helping people in need, said Merchant, but about helping them help themselves. He said that rather than just providing what assistance is needed by the communities it works in, Development and Peace provides the resources and training so the communities can do these things themselves.

Merchant said it is like the Chinese proverb of the man and the fish. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

“We ask the question, ‘Why can’t this man find fish?’”

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