Harvest: A USPG Resource
To take a different look at harvest through an African focus
by By the USPG Tomorrow's Harvest team
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To take a different look at Harvest through an African focus.
Preparation and materials
- This assembly uses material from 'Tomorrow's Harvest': a resource produced by USPG. USPG is an Anglican mission agency working in partnership with the church in more than 50 countries. Their work involves pastoral care, social action and supporting training programmes. In many countries, USPG has worked with the Anglican church and set up projects to support the impoverished and marginalized.
- To order USPG literature/publications, e-mail Ruth Newton on email@example.com or telephone 020 7803 3413. Website: http://www.uspg.org.uk
- Introduce the Harvest theme by saying that you are going to think about the lives of some children far away in Africa. Ask what the children know about Africa and try to give a balanced picture if all they know is famine and natural disasters.
- Say that many children in Africa who grow up in rural areas don't have the chance to do many of the things that children here do. They learn that life means to work and care for the land around them, for it provides them with food and perhaps earns the family a little money. This leaves them with little time for other things, such as sport and games.
In Africa a mother will carry her young baby on her back while she digs the fields, milks the cows or the goats, plants the seeds, locks the chickens safely away each night and harvests the crops at the end of the season.
Every child has a part to play in the daily round on the land. A small child of two or three will learn to make holes in the soft earth with a stick, and have fun dropping a seed into each small hole. Older children soon learn the difference between weeds and vegetables as they help to clear the fields. Young boys will take turns in herding the village goats, sheep, cows or water buffalo as they take them out to graze each day. Girls will learn to fetch water and collect firewood. In many cases work on the land will be seen as more important than going to school.
Many rural families in Africa grow nearly all their own food. If the rains do not come after the planting, or there is too much rain and the crops do not have a chance to flourish, families can find themselves very short of food. So children learn to search for wild plants, fruits, leaves, berries and perhaps birds' eggs which the family can eat. They might climb the wild fruit trees to search for mangoes, bananas, papaya and sometimes coconuts.
- Ask if any of the children have ever collected 'wild food'? What might you find to eat if you searched in the country? Blackberries, wild cherries, damsons and crab apples (these last two can taste very sour but they make wonderful jam). In the autumn it is easy to find chestnuts and hazelnuts - do you know what these look like?
Point out the dangers of eating anything if you don't know what it is. African children who have grown up with this way of life know much more about growing things than most people in this county. Also stress that we are not allowed to collect birds' eggs - it is illegal in this country to remove eggs from a wild bird's nest.
- End the assembly with this story from rural Africa.
One night a hungry jackal was prowling around the outskirts of a small village looking for something to eat. Suddenly he heard a rustle in the bushes. He crept closer. It was a nice fat cockerel.
This was a surprise. The jackal was delighted. Usually by this time all the cockerels and hens were shut up safely for the night. The jackal laughed to himself. He had found a delicious dinner. He pounced. There was a shrill cry from the cockerel and coloured feathers scattered through the air - and the jackal had the cockerel safely between his paws.
As the jackal dragged the cockerel away from the village, the poor bird wished he hadn't wandered so far away. He had to think quickly. What was it he had seen the people in the village do before their meals? Perhaps he could trick the jackal.
Just as his captor was about to begin eating, the cockerel said: 'Don't you say a prayer before your meal?'
The jackal paused, curious. 'A prayer? What's that?'
'People clasp their hands together and close their eyes,' said the cockerel.
So the jackal clasped his front paws together.
'You must close your eyes as well,' said the cockerel.
So the jackal shut his eyes and in that instant the cockerel flapped his wings hard, shook himself free and flew away. Before the jackal realized what was happening the cockerel was back in the village, safe.
'Let the people say a prayer before their meals,' the jackal muttered crossly. 'That's not for jackals!' He slunk back into the forest - a hungry jackal.
Time for reflection
As we celebrate Harvest, we give thanks for everything we enjoy. Take a quiet moment to think about what you particularly like to eat and drink.
We think of children in Africa and around the world who don't have as much as we do. Take a few moments to think about what you have heard today about their lives.
At Harvest we give thanks for what we have,
and we think of others who have less.
Help us to do all we can to make the world a fairer place.
'I planted a seed' (Come and Praise, 134)
Publication date: September 2003 (Vol.5 No.9) Published by SPCK, London, UK.