Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Jan
  • 30

OLA students buy chickens, ducks, llama, pig …

Posted By January 30, 2015 | 11:37 am | Featured Article #2
John Perkins talks to sixth-graders at Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School after receiving their model check from Emeline Class, Renee Morin, Marlena Eichelroth and Emily Garvin.
John Perkins talks to sixth-graders at Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School after receiving their model check from Emeline Class, Renee Morin, Marlena Eichelroth and Emily Garvin.

By Tanya Connor

WORCESTER – After hearing a speaker talk about hunger, a sixth-grader at Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School brought in $20 – to buy chickens – his teacher Nancy Chase said.
Nolan Sweetser’s generosity multiplied. Friday his class gave the speaker $1,000 – to buy more livestock. The money is for Heifer International to use to help hungry people around the world raise and cook food.
“You’re igniting a hopefully deeper faith – on both sides,” said the sixth-graders’ computer teacher, John Kottori, who’s working with Mrs. Chase and planning a lesson called “Faith 2 Faith.” He said it’s about “understanding these communities that really need these animals to survive, and, through our faith, wanting to do something, in hopes the people receiving these animals realize the ones that helped them have the same faith. It’s got to start with our faith: understanding, caring and action.”
John Perkins, Heifer International’s area volunteer coordinator for central Massachusetts, a member of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, said he spoke to the class last fall. Then they visited Heifer Farm in Rutland, one of Heifer International’s learning centers.
“They actually got to milk the goats, collect chicken eggs and spin some wool,” he said.
“He inspired them,” said Mrs. Chase, who was teaching them about world hunger for their school service project this year. The day after he spoke, Nolan brought in his own money, which started the collection, she said.
“I was hoping we could raise some money,” she said, noting that she coordinated a similar collection for Heifer International at the school some years ago. “I wanted to make the kids aware of what people have and don’t have. It was right before Christmas and this was a Christmas collection.”
“In lieu of gifts to the teacher” the sixth-graders brought donations for Heifer International, Mr. Perkins explained.
The 30 students brought in more than $400, she matched it, and someone else gave $200, Mrs. Chase said.
“I’m ecstatic that they can actually have an impact,” she said of the students.
“I’m just so proud of them,” Mrs. Chase said. “They’re happy doing this. … There was a big discussion about the best way to spend the money” to benefit the most people.
The decision? A flock of chicks, ducks and geese; three goats, a pig, a llama, two beehives, an irrigation pump and two bio-gas cooking stoves.
“I’ve seen stoves like these in action,” he said. The stoves are important because cooking over an open fire is bad for people’s health and for the environment, he said. Some people will be really grateful “you helped them with that,” he said.
He told of a study Heifer International did in Thailand looking at what some of its projects accomplished.
“They found people had greater food variety, better nutrition, better health,” he said. This, and the various types of improvements in other countries, enabled more children to attend school. He said education is a way to help end poverty.
“For every year a girl goes to school, her income increases by 20 percent,” (double that of the boys), he said. “When we get better food into people, they learn better.”
He also praised how the OLA students learn. He said that during his fall presentation, “They were so responsive I did something I normally do with high school kids – a visualization of what it’s like to live in poverty. I basically take them to visit a family in Honduras I knew.”
He has students imagine removing from their lives seven things – including things such as electricity, food and health care. They learned the lesson well and responded.

“And the last thing you take away from them is hope,” he said, explaining that one of the family members died.