By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

Wearing a grin and a bucket of water on her head, Emily Froeba, director of campus ministry at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge, walked into the crowded cafeteria, demonstrating a keen sense of balance and strength – until she slowly turned. Quickly she caught the bucket before it crashed to the floor but not before most of the water sloshed out, to the delight of students and faculty nearby.  

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Catholic Relief Services guest speaker Daniel Mumuni, left, and Emily Froeba balance buckets of water on their heads to experience what it’s like to walk almost a mile for clean water. Mumuni encouraged students to donate to the Rice Bowl program to help those who struggle to survive. Photos by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator 

 

Just minutes earlier, Daniel Mumuni, of Sierra Leone, spoke to SMHS students about the day-to-day challenges facing children in his country.  

“Sierra Leone is a beautiful country with white-sand beaches but underneath the beauty there is struggle and deprivation,” said Mumuni, who is on a tour of Catholic schools to promote the Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten program, Rice Bowl.  

Mumuni had students close their eyes to imagine what it would be like not to have food during their school day, no access to water and no good roads to get necessities. When asked how this would make them feel, students responded with “difficult,” “sad,” “tiring” and “depressing.”  

“Meet Kumba,” said Mumuni as he pointed to the screens set up in the gym. “This young girl aspires to be a nurse but she must help provide water for her family by walking a half-a-mile to a mile to access clean water and then carry it home.”  

Mumuni explained how money raised through the Rice Bowl program has helped many people who have been suffering by providing food, constructing schools and training teachers.  

“As you prepare for Lent, I want you to remember the story of Kumba and those most vulnerable,” said Mumuni. “Lent is about prayer, fasting and almsgiving.”  

“Our purpose is to really raise awareness about the great work of CRS and in particular, how such a small offering like the Rice Bowl makes a huge difference in the lives of people overseas, but it also makes a huge difference in the lives of people right here in Baton Rouge because 25 percent of everything we collect from the Rice Bowl stays locally to help families in crisis,” said Jean Dressley, refugee resettlement director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  

Mumuni wrapped up his presentation by having four students carry buckets of water on their heads across the gym and back.  

“We do the Rice Bowl every year and last year we raised $6,000,” said Froeba. “I think the kids are really engaged with it, but I think for them to know where their money goes and to put a face to where their money goes, like with Kumba, the little girl, is really important.”  

“It helped me understand the causes of the world because I would’ve never understood that if he hadn’t enlightened me on the details,” said sophomore Jonathan Moya.  

“I feel like it opened my mind to the struggles that they have to deal with and the adversity they face,” said fellow sophomore Lance Williams.  

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Students at St. Michael High School in Baton Rouge try to walk with buckets of water on their heads as the people in Sierra Leone do in order to bring clean water to their families.