Sixth-form pupils at Trinity School in Belvedere were thrown into the mayhem of life on the edge as they enacted the hardships and instability of extreme poverty in Empathy Action’s Poverty Trap simulation.
The last day before half term is never the best time for holding a student’s attention but the participants from the Church of England school near Dartford went about the activity with gusto. For forty minutes the 158 teenagers struggled to make ends meet, hurriedly crafting bags out of newspaper to sell to unscrupulous shopkeepers in an effort to pay for the basics and, perhaps, save up enough to send a family member to school.
When the simulation was over the school provided a basic but filling ‘slum lunch’. The cabbage, rice and daal (lentil stew), served in newspaper boat-like bowls, gave an idea of the kind of food that might be eaten, even if the portions were more generous than the average slum dweller might hope to attain.
Following lunch, the school held a Communion service in the slum environment in which students were encouraged to come forward and stick prayers on a wooden cross which had been standing in the middle of the room during the simulation.
In feedback after the event one student said, ‘I am more grateful for what I have and I know that lots of people would want to have what I have.’ Another student said of the simulation, ‘it is an amazing insight into the real conditions that some people are forced to face in their everyday lives.’
Empathy Action frequently run these interative, educational activities, which we call simulations, as a way to raise understanding about poverty and injustice to which most of us find hard to relate, or perhaps are completely unaware. This kinaesthetic learning, as it is sometimes known, provides more than just information. It allows participants to see things from another person’s perspective, increasing their empathy and, we hope, leading them to take action.
Follow the link for simulation booking information.