24 Hour Caritas Challenge

It often takes just one experience to help open our eyes and make a difference for ourselves and others. It really was one day of difference for a life time of change.

As we began the Caritas Challenge, no one really knew what to expect or how everyone would react. The young people at first were both excited and nervous about sleeping in a box. They took time creating their homes for the night and everyone pitched in to help set up our “Challenge City”

On Friday night one of the youngest participants said:   To send for caritas 4


‘It’s easier when we don’t see people living in poverty, when we don’t see what others don’t have. Once we do see, we have to do something. I need to open my eyes to see what’s really going on around me.’ Aisling, 12



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To our surprise no one was up early, everyone slept in and began to rise just before 8am. Some people woke up surprised how well they slept and some wish they had made bigger houses or designed it differently but overall everyone was in good spirits.




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We had the opportunity to experience and learn about the issues of the Solomon’s. Geoff and his family came and shared his story with the young people about his time living in the Solomon Islands. It was a moment where all the issues became real and was life changing.

Angela Murray who is a Caritas champion came along also and shared her experience of working in the Solomon Islands with the deaf community and everyone learnt to sign “one day of difference for a lifetime of change”.





Kalyb, 16, from the local area and student at St. Patrick’s College Wellington, said:

“The Challenge is helping us to realise how fortunate we are, and how serious the situation is for the people in the Solomon Islands. There’s no easy fix, and it won’t be solved over night, but we can do our bit to help. We’re experiencing a tiny portion of what the people of the Solomon Islands face, through our sleeping in the cardboard boxes overnight. We often turn a blind eye to what people are experiencing. There’s something we can do, and so we must.”


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On Saturday afternoon, Archbishop John Dew and Julianne Hickey, Director of Caritas, came to visit and as we sat around the fire. The young people all shared about their experience. Here are what a few of them had to say.




“Not making a change, but being a change”

An awareness of the Solomon Islands, but also of our own families and communities

Change: the opportunity to support someone else to change their life, and changing my own life

We’ve made a change in the Soloman Islands, but I’ve also changed myself.

Inspiring, and made me think about what I really need – I have a choice

Inspiring – the real challenge starts when we leave this place. I expect we’ll be people of change.

Hearing stories and things I wasn’t necessarily aware of – I’ve learnt a lot from seeing people together, and learnt more about myself.

How grateful I am to be going from here to my home, with food on the table, and a bed to sleep in, and running water – it’s been really eye opening.

We need to change ourselves to help others to be able to change their lives, too.

One of the leaders, Jacob (an ex-Challenge 2000 Gap Year student) wrote brilliantly about his experience on CathNews:



We just want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped out, we are truly grateful.


Check out other articles about the challenge.

Independent Herald, Wednesday – April 9th 2014: http://issuu.com/the.star/docs/214099ih?e=0

Article on stuff for Dom post: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/9913282/Spending-a-night-in-a-box


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