Cathedral High School Africa Mission Trip

2017 Africa Trip Blog

The Cathedral High School Africa mission trip is centered on the ideas of service and sacrifice. Sometimes called the “bottom billion,” there are nearly a billion people on earth who live each day without the resources to meet their basic needs. In 2008 the first group of students left the comfort of life in St. Cloud to live alongside those who live in poverty. Since then groups from Cathedral traveled in 2010, 2011 and plans are underway for the 2012 trip.

 All these students have sacrificed to make this trip. While in the US they sacrifice time to raise money for their trip. They sacrifice a great deal of money since the trip costs over $3,000. While in Tanzania the students sacrifice their normal way of life – no internet, no cell phone, no television, no car, random electrical outages, few of the things they have grown to think they “need.” They live a simple life; a great sacrifice for an American teen!

 The focal point of the Tanzania trip is service. The students put their needs second and instead spend the greater parts of two weeks in service. At Upendo (a Swahili word for love) Orphanage the students work with the most vulnerable victims of poverty – the youngest children. They clean, play and simply hold children who want nothing more than to play and be loved. At St. Louis Primary School, a diocesan school in Moshi, the students work on English skills with students in grades 3 and 4. At recess they play games and form relationships they will never forget. At Second Chance Education Centre the students put on their jeans and t-shirts and perform manual labor. They have dug a large garden by hand and created a drainage system to move water away from the buildings. The needs are many!

 But through sacrifice and service the students gain and grow. They live compassion. They learn to look past poverty, disease and lack of opportunity and meet the real person. They understand, through first hand experience, that action is better than standing on the sidelines. After being immersed in a new culture, the students learn to value relationships more than time and to understand what blessings they have been given. “To those who have much, much is expected,” becomes more than a Bible verse and instead becomes a way of life.

So... why go to Africa?

The document A Call to Solidarity with Africa was developed by the Committee on International Policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved by the full body of U.S. Catholic bishops at its November 2001 General Meeting. Below are some excerpts from that document.

“The urgency of our attention to the Church and the peoples of Africa is prompted by two conflicting convictions: hope and concern... Our call to solidarity with the Church, nations, and peoples of Africa, particularly the nations of sub-Saharan Africa, recognizes and is based on the special responsibilities and opportunities that we have as Catholics and citizens of the United States. As Catholics, we embrace the universal character of our Christian identity, an identity that "transcends national boundaries and calls us to live in solidarity and justice with the peoples of the world." As Americans, we acknowledge the singular position enjoyed by the United States as one of the wealthiest nations on earth, but privilege cannot be divorced from responsibility.”

Our faith demands it: Jesus' message of salvation is universal.

Our sisters and brothers are asking for our help: As we witness intense suffering and hear cries for help, we recognize the bonds of a shared faith and a common humanity with the peoples of Africa, especially the poor.

Our world needs this effort: The immensity of poverty, violence, disease, and despair, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, threatens the stability and security of the international community.

The United States has special responsibilities: Our nation's history, its affluence, its economic and political power, and its leadership role in the world require us to accept an inescapable responsibility to help the peoples of Africa to live in peace and with dignity. with particular attention to sub-Saharan Africa. This is not just a policy option; it is a moral obligation.

We can make a difference: Today in Africa lives are being lost at an alarming rate. The continent faces serious challenges that oftentimes weaken the resolve of peoples committed to the pursuit of justice, peace, and integral development.

A Vision of Awareness and Service
The vision for this trip, building on the foundation set forth by the Catholic Bishops, is for students to become aware of dramatic issues affecting the lives of people in sub-Saharan Africa and to commit themselves to action.

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

The students will see and experience poverty, hunger, and disease. The students must understand that they will not end poverty, they will not feed all the starving people, that they will not put an end to suffering. And yet, the students must understand that the end of poverty, hunger and disease begins with individual action, what Mother Theresa called the “small things with great love.” The problems are immense. Over 1 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty – less than $1 a day. Over 100 million children of primary school age do not attend school. Eight million people die every year due to the effects of poverty. And while we call on our government to assist in these problems, real lasting change only occurs through the efforts of ordinary people doing “small things with great love.”

But the service doesn’t end with a two-week trip. The trip is the beginning, and, it is hoped, that the service begins there and lasts a lifetime. Really, if the goal was simply to provide immediate help, we would be best off sending over $48,000 and stay home! However, if this is the beginning of a life-long commitment to help those around the world, then the immediate investment is just the beginning.

At the end of the two-week experience, if the students understand with their mind the complexity of global issues and understand with their heart the effects of these issues on ordinary people, and then make a pact with themselves to work to produce change, then the trip has met its objectives.

Student Testimonials

Each of us on this trip has gained insight into what our potential might one day be. This trip has challenged our convictions and has helped to mold our visions of the future. Everyone has matured and grown the last two weeks.
Brianna Backes

What matters the most to me is I’ve been consumed by a fire of compassion for the orphans, patients, students and villagers that I encountered. The importance of this trip, now, has become what happens next.
Kari Neutzling

I believe many of us were surprised by the consideration we were given. I experienced more empathy and compassion for others today than I have in my entire life.
Steph Voigt

For me, coming here wasn’t solely about helping “them”; it was about making connections and having a positive impact on the lives of others on a more personal level.
Kelly Bechtold

Together we have had once in a life time experiences that will keep us connected forever....Most agree that the trip has opened their eyes to how they can help people not only in Tanzania (even though we are biased to this place) but the “bottom billion” all over the world. We realized that if we take things one step at a time we can make a difference and hopefully we all will choose to take action rather than ignore the injustices throughout the world.
Jenny Fleegel and Nick Maleska