Team Cott packs their bags
This isn’t the first-time Andrea’s path has crossed with that of a child forced to flee their home. Several years ago, Andrea taught a large number of students from West Africa. Despite having travelled to many parts of the world, she still didn’t expect to hear the kind of hardships that these students had lived through.
One year, a group of Andrea’s students from West Africa took part in the 40 Hour Famine. When Andrea asked them why, they told her stories of how World Vision helped their villages and refugee settlements back home. “As a long-time supporter of World Vision, I was so moved by their stories,” said Andrea.
More recently, Andrea has taught refugee children from Syria – so, this year the 40 Hour Famine is closer to home than ever. With that in mind, Andrea rallied the troops.
From experience to understanding
Nick-named Team Cott, her 40 Hour Famine team consisted of 19 boys – her four sons and 15 of their friends – all between the ages of seven and 15, and all very committed to living out of a backpack for 40 hours.
Andrea’s message to them? To remember how blessed they are to grow up in a safe environment where they’re free to be kids.
“Although I am so incredibly grateful for where we live and the way we live, our boys are growing up in a bubble. They are growing up to be kind and generous young men but I want them to know about the world and how they can help,” explained Andrea. “It’s my hope that, in doing this year's 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge, they might have a small idea of what refugee children go through,” said Andrea.
And they did. The boys took on 12 live challenges throughout the weekend that were presented to participants to help them begin to understand what hardships a refugee might face.
"Best thing ever"
“We had little kids walking with their backpacks to their hockey game which was quite far away, I had hungry boys sucking on their barley sugars and little guys sleeping on concrete in a makeshift shelter made from cardboard … and playing cards in the dark with their torches. When a few of the 10 year olds left, they said it was the best thing they’ve ever done,” Andrea proudly recalls.
In the lead-up, they also spent a night piled into the lounge to watch World Vision videos and learn about refugees.
“The best part of the weekend for me was watching the expressions on all their little faces while they watched the World Vision stories and the discussion we had afterwards. They are such caring and compassionate kids and had so much to offer the discussion even though it’s something they just could not imagine happening to them,” said Andrea. “Many of them, especially the younger ones, didn’t even know what a refugee was ... some became emotional, which is not all that common with young boys!”
Together, Team Cott raised more than $2,200. Their biggest fundraiser was a family movie night where the boys sold tickets to friends and family, as well as selling brownies, popcorn, pizza and doughnuts on the night. “It was a new and exciting challenge this time around and they are already wondering what will be in store for them next year.”
Ready for next year
Andrea and her team were a handful of the more than 15,000 people to sign up to take on this year’s 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge. “I’ve got an army of other mums ready to team up with me next year, so I’m really excited for what I can achieve with them,” she said.
“I feel very passionate about stepping out of our busy life and into something important that will bring awareness to our kids and plant a seed of compassion which will hopefully bloom in their later years. Thanks World Vision for providing the opportunity!”