Each year, hundreds of youth across Canada participate in Development and Peace’s THINKfast program, which is a 25-hour education and fundraising fast in solidarity with communities in the Global South.
Youth groups from schools, parishes and other community organizations get together to create a THINKfast team and ask friends and family to support them in their fast. During the fast, participants partake in activities and reflections that help them to understand the injustices faced by their sisters and brothers in the Global South, and strengthen their solidarity with these communities.
Here, Natalie Pagnotta, who is the youth representative of the St. Catharines Diocesan Council, tells us why she likes to THINKfast!
How has the THINKfast program impacted you?
I did my first THINKfast 7 years ago. It was such an eye-opening experience. It was my first introduction to the work of Development and Peace and I was so intrigued by the organization’s mission to assist those in the Global South through empowerment. Not only sending funds to partners, but also enabling people of these communities to help themselves and become self-sufficient. Through the empowerment of our brothers and sisters in the Global South they gain the capacities to sustain their communities for years to come.
Was there a particular THINKFast activity that gave you a new perspective on life in the Global South?
The THINKfast activity that opened my eyes the most to the challenges faced by people in the Global South was the penny activity. This activity involved sifting through dirty, mud-filled water in a basin to find a coin. This activity showed me what it is like to live with a lack of clean water, and the struggle and process of communities in the Global South in trying to attain “clean” water, which is still contaminated.
What is your involvement with Development and Peace since your first THINKfast?
Following being a participant in THINKfast, I had the opportunity to be a THINKfast organizer for three years at my home parish of Our Lady of the Scapular. Following my eighth grade graduation, I attended the local Development and Peace Annual General Meeting, and there, I was nominated to become a youth representative. Five years later, I’ve had the great privilege of being involved with the organization at the Diocesan level and with my parish. I had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Provincial Meeting in May of 2013, which was hosted by the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. While there I connected with other youth representatives and members from all over the province. Through my high school years, I attended various workshops and annual meetings organized by the council, including Share Lent and high school gatherings.
I am currently in my first year at Brock University and continue to attend various council events, such as the Brock Social Justice Fair workshop, which was held on January 31st. This was my second time as a speaker, alongside my fellow council members. Overall my involvement in Development and Peace has truly been an educational and faith-filled experience. I intend to stay involved with the organization for many years to come and hope to venture overseas into the Global South in the near future to see firsthand the great work of Development and Peace.
Is there a particular region that interests you?
If I were to go on a solidarity trip to meet our partners in the Global South, I would like to go to Colombia. Our sisters and brothers in that region have been faced with so much violence and internal displacement from their homes. I would like to visit the partners there to see how far they have come and how they are utilizing non-violent strategies to advocate for what is rightfully theirs in regards to the land that holds together these communities.