Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2002
Think fast and help save lives
CCODP benefits from teens' day without food
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Jonathan Wilson does not mind fasting for 24 hours if the experience is for a good cause.
And what better cause can there be than helping Third World countries through Development and Peace's Think Fast?
Wilson finished his fourth Think Fast along with 27 other students at St. Mary's High School in Vegreville, March 22.
"I had fun all the time, every time I came."
This Grade 11 student said he likes the idea of having fun while learning something and helping other people in the process. "I know that what I do helps the community . . . helps other communities. So instead of just having fun at home, I come here for the weekend knowing that I am doing it for a good cause."
Participants are asked to go without food for 24 hours and only have water or juice to drink. They also seek donations from their families, relatives, friends and others. Wilson went door to door, just as he had the three other times he fasted for charity.
"Some people are really rude about it. Some people are really helpful because they think it's for a good cause."
And there were those who told him things like, "I'd rather keep the money for myself."
Says Wilson, "It tells me that some people don't care about what's going on with the rest of the world. . . . They don't care if somebody else is starving, if there are thousands of people who die everyday."
The Think Fast experience opened the teenager to different insights.
"I've learned that most of the world is not like us in Canada. I feel desperation for them. It makes me feel that I have to be a good Samaritan."
Angus Perry, chairperson of Development and Peace, told the WCR several different groups around the archdiocese are holding Think Fasts, but it is difficult to track down how many.
"If they are doing this, we don't necessarily know unless they phone us when they request materials, and when they invite someone to come and speak."
Think Fast is targeted for secondary school students.
"Our primary concern for that age level is that they become aware of the conditions under which people have to live in various parts of the world," said Perry, "and that they have the chance to begin to develop an understanding of how one can be in solidarity with people who are not living in the neighbourhood, who are in other parts of the world."
Actually experiencing hunger, even for only 24 hours, helps intensify the experience. Perry believes "coming together and sharing time with one another as opposed to the normal North American way of watching it all on television," helps students to appreciate what they are learning.
The secondary objective is fundraising for the agency should a group choose to do so. The money goes to the general revenue of Development and Peace, with the bulk of it slotted for long-term development, while a small portion goes to relief for humanitarian or ecological disasters.
"We have money going to Iraq right now," said Perry
The agency also donated $2 million to Afghanistan and is continuing its effort to help victims of Hurricane Mitchell in Central America. Some of the funds are also used for education in Canada.
Erin Visscher, 18, of John Paul II High School in Fort Saskatchewan, was also involved in Think Fast.
She went to families and friends to raise funds. "I came from a big family that is really big on providing support for people who are in need."
For her it's a good learning experience. "I think it is about loving your neighbour as God loves us. It's about giving to people who are in need."
Louis Langdeau, 15, also from JP II High, believes Development and Peace is "doing a lot of good stuff with the money that they get. They are not just sending it to the governments in Third World countries, but to the people."
As a Catholic, he believes that one should try and help people in need "because that was what Jesus did - he helped the less fortunate instead of just going to the rich and telling them what to do."
Aranda Brockhoff of St. Mary's High School participated for the first time.
"I learned about how people in other countries live in cardboard boxes and we complain that we live in a trailer instead of a house. It tells me that we are more fortunate than we think."
When she canvassed for funds, some turned her away while others gave generously. "Some people have bigger hearts than others. I think it's fun and we're helping people, so will do it again."
JP II High had 51 participants who raised close to $2,000, while St. Mary's 28 participants were able to raise $2,070. The Life Teen group of Holy Family Parish holds its Think Fast March 29-30.