Students hear from former street children at Social Justice Conference at OLMC Parramatta
|Former OLMC Parramatta student Therese Canty leads a workshop.|
Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) Parramatta hosted the 2013 Kid’s View social justice conference on Monday 8 April, helping students explore the complex reality of poverty and encourage them to action.
The conference is organised by Bahay Tuluyan (House of Welcome), a Filipino non-government organisation that works with children who have been abused, exploited and neglected.
Conference facilitator Catherine Scerri, an Australian volunteer who has worked in the Philippines with street children for over nine years, says the conference is a chance to engage young people to become motivated to learn more about the world and challenge them to build a socially just world.
Through dance, drama and song, two former street children, Aisa Flavier and Gary Alcedo shared their personal tales of living in poverty and how their lives were transformed through Bahay Tuluyan; these teenagers are now community leaders, empowering others to change their situation. After the performance, students joined interactive workshops led by passionate young people to explore complex issues of work, education, health and food for people living in poverty.
OLMC Parramatta has hosted the conference for more than five years now and Catherine Scerri says it is evident that OLMC girls have particularly a solid grounding in social justice “they show compassion and are empathetic; their questions demonstrate that they are really interested and open to being inspired”.
Social justice at school and a focus on Mercy values
OLMC Year 9 student Ilaria Trecapelli said the speakers and activities were inspiring: “It made me realise just how less fortunate other people are. As soon as I walked out of the room at the end of the day I was already coming up with ideas of how I could make a difference”.
Workshop leader Therese Canty is an OLMC ex-student (and Head Girl) who volunteered with Bahay Tuluyan whiles studying a science degree at university.
Therese said her experience of the conference when she was a student at the College prompted her to become involved; “social justice at school and the focus on Mercy values has definitely influenced my post school life and choices.”
Promoting Mercy Values and a commitment to helping empower the disadvantaged is a core aspect of the vision of OLMC Parramatta. Those values of mercy, compassion, justice, dignity, excellence, hospitality, stewardship and service have been defining Mercy education since the College was established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1889.
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