The Poverty Trap
Pupils get a glimpse of the challenges faced by those living in some of the poorest parts of the world.
Pupils experienced a glimpse of the challenges and injustices faced by those living in some of the poorest parts of the world, as they took part in Empathy Action’s ‘Poverty Trap’ simulation. Over 200 Second and Third Form pupils participated in the two-hour immersive experience in the William Brown Lecture Theatre, which had been transformed into a makeshift slum for the day.
The 12–14-year-olds were split into “family groups” and tasked with making bags out of newspaper to sell to unscrupulous shopkeepers. They had to try and make enough money to pay for their food, water, rent and sanitation, while trying to save money to send one of their group to school. The role play, based on real-life examples, highlighted how hard it can be for those living hand-to-mouth to change their situation.
Afterwards, pupils discussed the impact of their experiences. “We didn’t notice our surrounding, we were desperate - we were trying to stay alive”; “We felt angry when people stole our money”; “We stole back, there was a lot of thieving”.
While emphasising that the simulation provided only a snapshot of the reality of those trapped in poverty, Empathy Action co-founder Matthew Gurney stressed: “The way this made you feel, the things that you did are real. They happen.” He urged pupils to consider how they might make a difference, concluding with a quote from Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
The event was one of a programme of activities taking place during Ghana Week, 1-5 October, to promote and raise money for our Ghana Partnership with Essaman United.
Ghana Partnership coordinator and Geography teacher Mrs Julie Brown said: “Whilst not directly themed on Ghana this simulation gave pupils a real insight into the experiences of those living in some of the most challenging parts of the world. No matter the amount of classroom discussion and study, nothing has quite had the emotional impact that today’s tasks have had on our pupils.
“I hope they will be inspired to take part in fundraising, get involved with the Charities Committee, or to visit Essaman United in the future. We have big plans to expand the project, hopefully enabling Essaman to offer support to other schools in their community.”
Another teacher added: “One of my pupils told me how she saw the castle and the whole school environment in a completely new light after the morning’s activity. She was overcome by how lucky she was to be at school in Kimbolton.”
Other Ghana Week activities have included a non-uniform day, Ghanaian dance and drum workshops, a Ghana Fair and a cake stall.