Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 25, 2002
Think Fast makes hunger real
Vegreville Catholic youth experience pangs of poverty
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
For three years in a row, Mark Kobelsky of St. Mary's High School has led a group of students on a 25-hour fast.
Called Think Fast, the program is designed by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace to educate young people about the plight of the poor in Third World countries.
Along with the educational component is a fundraising venture that lets participants help CCODP with its Share Lent program. This year, Kobelsky's 31 students raised $2,545.50.
"It's a way of letting the young people get an awareness of the issues out there and realize they have a better life style than other people from other parts of the world," Kobelsky told the WCR.
Kobelsky, who is a member of the parish council, thinks being a teacher helps him in promoting programs like Think Fast.
Teaching religion gives him the opportunity to introduce Think Fast to the students and conduct the necessary follow-up in a classroom setting.
"It helps get across to them that they can make a difference, that the money they raise makes a difference as well."
Jonathan Wilson, 15, has attended Think Fast three times since the program began at St. Mary's.
He enjoyed the activities and felt good he was able to help others in his own way.
"Every time I come, I've always known it's for a good cause so I'm glad to do it," Wilson told the WCR.
What urged Wilson to do this is his inner will.
"My conscience is telling me that I should do what I think is right."
Fast participants were given a quota of money to raise. They either asked their relatives and friends to make pledges, or went door-to-door asking for donations.
Grade 10 student Jessica Roeters said, "I do this because some people are complaining about Vegreville. And really when you think about it, it's not that bad."
Roeters' heart bleeds when she thinks about all the countries that don't have what she has and what she enjoys.
"We don't have war. We don't have fighting and we all can have whatever we want.
"And a lot of places don't have that opportunity."
By participating in the Think Fast, she experiences the hunger and want of others. For example, going without hearty meals for 25 hours made her realize food does not magically appear for everyone.
Sheldon Rokos, 15, learned the same lesson. "I realized how it feels to be really hungry and so I learned that we shouldn't take food for granted."
For him it was a real eye opener to discover many people throughout the world go hungry and have no shelter.
"They starve. They die. And it is awful."
Another first timer, Kathryn Zacharko, said, "It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be."
She found the experience to be a good opportunity for her to learn what other people are like and what kind of lives they lead. "We have it a lot easier than other people in other countries," said the Grade 8 student.
Zacharko did not mind sleeping in the gym for a night during the fast.
"We're freezing in the gym, but other people don't have a place like a gym to keep themselves warm.
"Jesus has given up his life to save us and we're just giving up food. It's not really the same, but we're still doing some form of sacrifice to help some people around the world."
Rokos added, "We're helping the needy.
"We're helping each other and that's what Christ wants us to do."
Roeters said helping each other go through the process is very crucial.
"When you're doing it with your friend, you don't really feel that you have not eaten for 25 hours.
"It is a team effort. You have to keep each other going. Keep each other busy.
"We're hungry, but we're still lucky because we're always doing something. Many people in other countries have nothing to do but to sit and dwell on the fact that they are starving."