Creative primary school teacher brings poverty into the classroom

4 Oct 2012   |   Blog   |   Supporter action

Tags:  fundraising, West Africa, Catholic Social Teaching, school   |   8 comments

Students from Our Lady of Lourdes in front of a West Africa display board

Janeen Murphy is Caritas Australia's Global Education Advisor for Western Australia.

For World Teachers’ Day, Janeen tells the story of Year 5 teacher, Addy Godwin, and her remarkable effort to bring the stories of the poorest of the poor into the classroom.

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the Year 5 class at Our Lady of Lourdes at Dardanup in south west, Western Australia.

With the arrival of World Teachers’ Day 2012 (5 October), the teacher of this Year 5 class absolutely deserves a mention.

Addy Godwin has taken charity to the next level, bringing the plight of the poorest of the poor right into the classroom.

Addy attended the Primary Teachers’ Conference where she learned about the AusAID-funded Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES), which Caritas Australia is part of. AACES is a five-year integrated community development program across Malawi and Tanzania, with a focus on water, sanitation and agricultural development. Part of AACES includes awareness-raising in Australia of development in Africa.

Addy was very conscious that her class, and indeed her school, were very generous to Caritas Australia and were more than happy to assist with fundraising. But she was concerned that her students did not always fully understand the root causes of poverty.

She decided to engage her class with a fundraising task to raise money for West Africa but also develop a teaching program that would help her students research some of the challenges that people are facing in West Africa, including the drought and ongoing food crisis.

“We always fundraise for Caritas Australia,” Addy says.

“But I wanted the kids to know why they are doing it, where the money is going and what Caritas is doing in the region.”

“Then we introduced the principles of Catholic Social Teaching – The Common Good, Participation, Subsidiarity and Human Dignity – and they really get it,” Addy says.

So for the whole of term three these Year 5 students researched countries across West Africa. At the same time they wrote persuasive letters to local businesses to encourage them to donate to their walkathon and car wash fundraisers. They also created poems and prayers for the people in West Africa and worked in groups to prepare a PowerPoint presentation to highlight the West Africa Food Crisis Appeal and explain how Caritas will use the funds to help the people on the ground.

The last two days of term were set aside for their fundraising tasks. They asked parents and the wider community to come to their car wash or sponsor them at their walkathon.

I was lucky enough to speak to a number of parents and they were all thrilled and very proud of their children’s achievements. They felt that it was a fantastic way for their kids to learn about what is happening in the wider world and more importantly how they can make a difference.

Students Grace, Lachlan and Georgina proudly walked me through their classroom and told me how much fun they had during the term. They all agreed the fundraising activities were the best part but they now have a really good understanding of what was happening in West Africa and how the money they raised is going to help the poorest of the poor.

Addy felt that the activities that the class engaged in really has helped them move from a charity to justice framework.

They [the class] absolutely love it. This term has flown by because they are just so interested. This has really opened their eyes to what’s going on outside these four walls."
Addy Godwin, Year 5 teacher

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  • Marg Yore

    “Loved reading about your journey. Inspirational.”

  • Marg Yore

    “Loved reading your inspirational story. It's truly our job as teachers to inspire and engage the next generation to live out the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.”

  • Moira Staunton

    “Great story Janeen. Addy sounds very creative”

  • Adrian Abrate

    “Fantastic story. Have you thought of engaging with a social group like 'Think Act Change' to engage other socially minded people?”

  • Kyle borlini

    “That is absolutely correct, I am one of Addy Godwin's student's. I not only thoroughly enjoy learning about west Africa but I now realise where my money goes and I believe that if we all help these people can pull through”