One day of difference for a lifetime of change

I arrived at Challenge 2000 in Johnsonville, a night with friends in a cosy cardboard box beneath a starlit sky was too good to pass by.

The Wellington wind had fled; stillness paired with the embers crackling, huddled closer, marshmallows devoured in flame as stories swept us elsewhere and nothing mattered anymore save each other, the flame and the specks of light above.

The weekend meant laughter, wired smiles as morning broke and caffeine rushes; all for a good cause.

Beneath those same stars, rain was falling somewhere far away.

The water was rising, while we slept in cardboard shelters through a cloudless night.

Houses of living memories had been suddenly swallowed by the swollen rivers while we set out to make this weekend as memorable and life-changing as possible.

A day of difference for a lifetime of change.

Solidarity amidst reckless forces

What is solidarity in the face of such reckless forces and what is awareness going to change?

Us.

Though we feel so small, we must begin somewhere to pave the way for a lifetime of change.

We had gathered together to join with 6000 other young people  across New Zealand who were also standing in solidarity with the people of Solomon Islands, as part of the inaugural Caritas Challenge, from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.

A chance to find out more about the reality of people’s lives around the world, to stand alongside them, and raise some money to support people who need it.

Throughout the 24 hours, we reflected on the cost of apathy and what it means to live justly.

Open eyes

During our discussions, one person stated that it is easy to ignore the need if you can’t see it, and this simple truth reverberated throughout the room.

What does it mean to open our eyes to the need in Solomon Islands, within Aotearoa New Zealand, our communities, our families, and within ourselves?

What are the costs of ignorance and the costs of choosing to be aware?

I woke shivering; during the night I had kicked my blanket off and in a sleep-induced state, lacked the initiative to pull it back up.

For the rest of the night I rolled into a ball with hands buried deep in my pockets, wishing I had brought something warmer.

But even then I knew that a bed awaited me back home, food would be stacked neatly in the pantry and friends would enquire politely on how I slept and I’d describe the experience as “eye-opening.”

But one of these days, we have to begin somewhere.

Huddled around the smoking ashes of yesterday, we knew what we had to do and began.

A day of difference for a lifetime of change.

Jacob Bang is studying English Literature with History at Victoria University. Last year he was on the Marist-Challenge 2000 gap year programme.

Source: CathNews NZ Pacific

Image: Stephen Davies/Caritas Aotearoa NZ

News category: Analysis and Comment.

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