by JEFF DILLON
A forecast cool Friday evening ahead of them could not dampen the enthusiasm of 23 year-4-to-6 pupils as they prepared for their Caritas Challenge of sleeping in makeshift cardboard shelters at St Peter Chanel primary school, Green Island, Dunedin.

A few days earlier the school had been visited by two Caritas representatives who explained the work of the organisation and the nature of the four possible challenges. The school chose the “Live It” challenge.

The 24 hour challenge involved rationed water supplies, a meal of rice and attempting to sleep the night in cardboard boxes fashioned into shelters to accommodate a number of pupils each.

One of those shelters ended accommodating six pupils and one adult, at a squeeze. Many of the remaining 11 parents spent the night huddled around a charcoal burner to keep warm.

The challenge period began at 10am on the Friday morning with the participants having a short prayer service and their undertaking was blessed and encouraged by Fr Michael Dooley, parish priest for the Mosgiel and Green Island pastoral area.

At the conclusion of the blessing ceremony three doves were released to signify the hope for the success of their efforts.

The 8-to-10-year old children had opted into the challenge presented by the school’s DRS, PesaminoSolomona Tili, with the aim of raising funds through sponsorship in order to support Caritas projects in Kiribati.

Mr Tili indicated that, as a Samoan, he could relate to the difficulties experienced by Pacific Island communities so it was a very suitable place to support. It also fitted well for their school to be involved since St Peter Chanel is the patron saint of the Pacific region.

Besides obtaining sponsorship donations for their efforts the children also spent lunch time busking in front of the township’s local supermarket to raise funds to buy a large bag of rice to cook up for their main meal that night.

After a cool night shared together, the pupils and parents emerged with a better appreciation of their  normal comforts as against the tough life experienced by many millions of people in the world.

Their 24 hour effort produced a sum of more than $1000 to give to Caritas for their work in Kiribati.

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