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International Outreach

Pope Benedict XVI declared 2009 the year of Africa. He made a special journey to the continent and called a meeting of African bishops to focus the world’s attention on the great needs of the African people. In response, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet made the decision to staff a mission in Gula, Uganda with three sisters. The Church, working with others committed to solidarity in supporting the life and dignity of Africa’s suffering poor, can make a difference.

In November, SJHS’ Peace and Justice religion classes joined in this commitment to bring awareness of the needs of the African continent to the Jester community by developing Project Africa. Peace and Justice religion teacher, Linda Petrich, enlisted the aid of the entire student body and faculty to set up an interactive “Africa museum” with displays on topics ranging from hunger and unjust prisoner treatment to lack of clean water and genocide, to women’s issues such as lack of education, rape and human trafficking.

On November 23 and 24, Jester classes took a self-guided tour of the museum. Teachers developed cross-curricular lessons on some of the topics in the museum. One class, reading a novel on human trafficking, decided to develop a project against trafficking. Another class decided to give a presentation to the student body on how their purchase decisions contribute to human rights violations in other countries. World History classes will study Africa next semester and have used the museum as preparation. Laura Self, SJHS economics teacher, said that her students want to make a difference and have decided that they will sell Fair Trade Chocolate and use the money to contribute to Ryan’s Well in Togo. (The Ryan’s Well Foundation is building wells for schools in Togo.) And Ms. Petrich plans to present other activities to the student body so that Jesters can participate in follow-up activities related to the needs of Africa—specifically fundraising for Ryan’s Well Project. (International Clean Water Day in March has been chosen for the Jesters to finalize fundraising for the well.)

On December 11, the school showed the Matt Damon documentary, “Running the Sahara.” Produced by the Matt Damon Foundation, the film tells about three determined super athletes who plan to run the Sahara and bring clean water to Africa. SJHS teachers were asked to offer extra credit to students who attended the film and completed a follow-up assignment.

SJHS students have been very diligent in putting together Project Africa and they need your support, too. If any parent or alumna wants to learn how they can help, contact faculty member Linda Petrich at (562) 925-5073, x302.

Hunger is not inevitable - We can feed the world!

Monday 10/12/09, Saint Joseph High School is participating in International Food Day. The Amnesty International Club is sponsoring a simple meal(rice,bread,water) for a $2 donation. The money will go to CARE an organization helping women around the world.

Students have made announcements and displayed posters to help raise awareness of hunger and its devastating effects.

Please support the efforts of Amnesty International in two ways:

Donate and eat our simple meal as role models of aiding the poor and vulnerable, presale tickets are available through Mrs. Petrich.

Faculty members are asked to consider offering extra credit in your classes.
  • Religion – Relate hunger to several Christian service themes
  • English - Write a poem or page from the viewpoint of the hungry
  • Biology/Health - Explain the physiological effects of hunger and starvation on the human body
  • Math - Graph the number of children dying of hunger per minute
  • World Languages - Translate or research hunger in your country of study
  • Social Studies - Map hunger globally and explain the cause/effects on international relations or historic events .
  • The Amnesty International club would really like to see this become a community response rather than a club project.

SJHS Mision to Those in Need in Uganda : Raising Awareness and Funds

Through Jester religion classes, the school’s Campus Ministry program, and Student Activities, students are made aware of the needs of those outside the school community. For the past two years Linda Petrich has made students aware of child soldiers in Uganda and parts of war-torn Africa, as well as the trafficking of women and children and female genitalia mutilation. In keeping with Linda’s desire to inspire her students to investigate and learn about ways in which they can help those less fortunate, she helped her students to discover the needs of Central African nations. They in turn held a Red Hand Day last year, and this year sold dog tags and used the proceeds to provide for the needs of the poor in Uganda. This past school year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet also began a program to provide for the poor of Uganda, especially through the provision of medical care.


For Love of a Cause

The United Nations designated February 15 “Red Hand Day” and in response, the SJHS Amnesty International Club, under the direction of faculty member Linda Petrich, sponsored the “Red Hand Rock” concert on campus, as part of their effort to bring awareness of, and to fight against, the use of child soldiers.

A group of mainly seniors worked after school to decorate and prepare for the concert which raised funds to send “red hands” to the Red Hand Organization at the UN. The concert, which took place on February 13 in the MPB, featured several bands, some with Bosco students. The bands were: Everdae, Sound Waves on Strike, Pattern Skies, Pride of the Fallen, Disposable Hero and others.
As “The Red Hand Campaign” culminated at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted hundreds of thousands of red hands sent by youth from around the world in support of a ban on the training and use of child soldiers. Found predominantly in Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of South America, the use of child soldiers, “violates our most basic standards of human decency,” he said. “It is the most appalling human rights abuse in the world today. Many thousands of children are being exploited. Every day, they are compelled to endure and inflict violence that no child should ever have to experience. This is unacceptable. The entire United Nations system and I are determined to stamp out such abuse.”

He added: “I want to extend special thanks to these young people for their statements. They have undertaken truly impressive efforts to engage youth around the world in ending the recruitment and use of children as soldiers. It is a privilege for me to accept, on behalf of the United Nations system, the red hands that have been collected through this global campaign.”

In her Peace and Justice religion classes last year, Linda Petrich taught her students about the many abuses children around the world face each day. She encouraged students to become better educated and involved in ending these abuses, i.e. human trafficking, child soldiers, female genital mutilation. This in turn has inspired her students in the Amnesty International Club to get involved and make a difference.

“The girls are really aware that they are part of this big effort. When they heard about it last year, they really wanted to do something,” says Linda Petrich. “And they did.”

Comments from SJHS Amnesty International Club members:

Red Hand Day is “a day when awareness is raised concerning child soldiers, “ Alexis Harper, ’09.

Mikka Zairian, ’09 finds it shocking that “girls are kidnapped and forced into marriage or used in brothels.”

“The use of child soldiers occurs in Africa, East Asia and areas of South America. As little children they are taken from their parents,” Jessica Moore, ’09.

“We heard about Red Hand Day last year in Mrs. Petrich’s religion class Peace and Justice. This year, thanks to Alexis Harper, I joined our Amnesty International Club,” Samantha Inocente, ’09.

Francesca Sciamna, ’10, sees the need “to raise money and sign petitions to raise awareness and end the use of child soldiers” and appreciates that “the money also goes to those who are being rehabilitated.”