Thursday, December 01, 2005

Former resident gives talk at Newman House

This Bar Lunch (13/11/05) was accompanied by a speaker with whom many of us were already acquainted. One of last year's residents, and a former parliamentary intern, Angela Cheyne is now the Development and Campaigns Coordinator of the charity organisation Caritas. She returned to demonstrate the purpose of Caritas, detail its current projects and also provide people with the opportunity to become involved in its work.

The basic premise operating behind the organisation's motivations was demonstrated with a handful of straws. Every person in the audience was invited to choose one. As could be predicted, some people had the misfortune to draw the short straw. If you were lucky enough to get a long one, you were 'rewarded' with a Mars Bar. Those with the short straws were given a small piece of string, an object which was universally deemed to be useless. It was by this means that Ms. Cheyne demonstrated the injustices of the social support systems that exist in this country. Because of their misfortune in being born to an underprivileged background, some people are denied the support that they need to deal with certain difficulties. Angela proceeded to outline the various ways in which Caritas is attempting to alleviate specific social problems. Currently they are dealing with the issues of child poverty, mental illness and care of the elderly. One of the primary functions of the organisation is to unite the projects of various existing charities in order to maximise the effectiveness of their campaigns.

The Presentation effectively raised our awareness of the fact that although much is made of the very appalling condition of humanity in the developing world, even in our own society people are struggling to attain an adequate standard of life. It seemed to me that Caritas is not only essential in its administrative role of co-ordinating different Catholic charity organisations, but it is also a symbol of the desire to attain justice for all humanity, and to enable every human being to be free from oppression.

More information on Caritas can be found on their website:

Harriet Cooper