by ROWENA OREJANA
WELLINGTON — More than 6000 young people slept in cardboard boxes,
worked in sweatshop-like conditions or went without food in the first weekend of April as part of the first nationwide
Caritas Challenge.
Caritas Social Justice education adviser Gemma Sinnot, coordinator for the challenge in Auckland, said this was the first time Caritas held this challenge. The organisation is looking at holding it annually.
It is as much about solidarity with the poor as it is fundraising. We try to come up with the challenge to provide
young people with the opportunity to experience how it is to live in poverty.
It is an awareness-raising activity. We want to encourage them to make a difference,” she said.
Students from years 7 to 13, as well as young people for various youth groups, chose one or a combination of four challenges: Move it, Sweat it, Live it or Stop it.
Move it is a physical challenge where the students may walk, run,
swim, cycle or play a sport for 24 hours.
They are also asked to think about what travelling long distances to access basic necessities feels like. “Sweat it” is about
working under demanding conditions.
“Live it” is about experiencing what living without a home feels like. And “Stop it” is about giving something up for 24 hours.
Carmel College in Auckland students decided to do a combination of Live it, Sweat it and Stop it. They began setting up their cardboard and tarpaulin shelters at 5pm on April 4. They also decided to give up technology, make bracelets and engage in physical activities.
Year 13 student Siobhan Lenehan said the girls got to know each other the old fashioned way, by talking to each other face to face instead of through social media.
“We thought Caritas is a really good fit for Carmel because it is a Catholic organisation and the values will be in line with Carmel. Also by living it and sweating it, we are also doing it to raise
awareness, not only raise some funds.
By doing this, it will also benefit the girls,” said Siobhan.
St Peter’s College in Gore raised about $800 on March 25. The students and staff had a technology- and powerfree day and celebrated the end of the challenge by having plain rice for lunch.
John Paul College students in Rotorua decided on an eight-hour Relay
for Water where participants took turns walking for 30 minutes carrying water.
Funds raised through the challenge will support people in the Solomon Islands. The country recently experiencedthe worst storm in its history, which left at least 23 people dead and15,000 homeless.

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