Slum Survivor – Survived!
We did it!
On Saturday the 25th October a merry gaggle of brave and somewhat fool hardy folk set about raising money for some of the world’s poorest people, by building a Slum…on the Lickeys!
We started by building our shelter first, with a team of willing volunteers. Together we pegged and tied and taped old tarpaulins, parasols and palettes together and created our very own twelve sleeper house. With ground sheets, used boxes and old carpet we made our floor waterproof so sleeping on it later didn’t feel as daunting!
During the afternoon we also had to complete some challenges, all of which reminded us just how hard life is for people who live in slums. We played a water collecting game, as water is a precious thing and there is not much of it in a slum and it is rarely clean and healthy to drink. Our water was from the outside tap and was healthy but we were still only allowed to use that one tap.
With our shelter up and other challengess under way, we lit the gas stove and got on with cooking the rice and beans that would be our dinner.
Once dinner was washed up and cleared away it was camp fire time with songs and games and even some corn that we popped (they must have corn that when heated pops in a slum?!Ok maybe we stretched that one!)
Then it was night walk time and off we went to the Lickey Hills playground in the pitch black. However in true slum style some friends came from the local Light Festival event with left over glow stocks, so we used what others no longer needed and each took a glow stick with us. This meant that in the pitch black you could see if someone was on the swings by the eerie shine of a glow stick moving backwards and forward in mid air!
Bed and the use of only one tap to wash teeth followed, as we were warm from the walk and tired from the building. Twelve of us settled down to sleep tightly packed in our shelter with just the wind for company.
Two members of our group kept watch on us over night by the light of their own fire, and had a few visitors too, in the shape of church members who bought their warm company and hot supplies!
Most of us got some sleep and, amazingly, we didn’t stir till 6:30ish even with an extra hour with the clocks changing!
Breakfast was fresh free-range eggs (from the chickens in our garden) and home made bread, which we toasted on our fire – perfect!
All that remained was to clear up and get ready for the service where we would enfold the rest of the church in our night of Slum living and invite their hearts to be broken in the same way ours had been, for the people who spent their lives living in slums.
One of my favourite parts of this venture was that as a church, a body of Christ we pulled together and made community in order to make a difference to someone else’s life – thank you to all of you who came and helped, all of you who provided ‘stuff’ to help us build toys and the main shelter and those of you who prayed for us. But if you missed out this time, don’t miss out when we do another crazy Kingdom building venture!!
For us it was fun, a bit cold, but a laugh, we loved the campfire, the night walk and the excitement of sleeping outside in our own shelter. But for millions and millions of people this is not a one night experience, its an every night experience
They don’t have a team of wonderful people who have cooked them a tasty and healthy lunch once the ‘ordeal’ was over. For them there is no hot bath and warm bed to go home to and certainly no relaxing half term holiday to enjoy after wards.
My experience of planning and taking part in Slum Survivor is that I feel very humbled and very aware that the way I live my life is so alien and different from the way millions live theirs, even here in this country.
So am I left over whelmed by the problem, YES, if I allow myself to think about it too hard I become paralyzed by it all. However instead I believe I need to DO something about it, I need to gather in my sponsor money, I need to make my Operation Christmas child shoe box and I need to pray and ask God what he is up to in this world, this country, this city that me and my family can be a part of in order to bring a little bit more of his kingdom here on earth.
Why, because the truth is, as The Rend Collective write in one of their songs:
“The dark is just a canvas, for your grace and brightness”
(From the song “Joy” on the album “The Art of Celebration)
We can and do make a difference, even in what feels like a small drop in a big ocean. Let’s shine some light in this dark world and make someone else’s life a little bit better!