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Dealing With Difficulty and Hardship

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To highlight what it means to be a displaced person or refugee.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a volunteer to play the part of a refugee. You may wish to dress the volunteer according to their role. The ‘refugee’ should be given the opportunity to hear the question they will be asked prior to the assembly.

  • Optional: you may like to have a pile of belongings for the ‘refugee’ to carry, including bedding, clothes, cooking items and so on.


  1. Introduce the assembly by saying that the topic of refugees is often discussed in the media and often appears as headlines in the papers. Often, the arguments about refugees centre on how genuine the refugees are, or whether they are economic migrants. Undoubtedly, too many people in the world are being forced to leave their homes - and country - with no notice or time for preparation.

  2. Ask the refugee to imagine that they and their family must leave home within an hour. Due to transport difficulties, they are likely to get separated on the journey. Ask the refugee’ to think about what he or she would take - they will have to carry everything themselves. If possible, pile the refugee’ with bedding and clothes and ask them to walk around the room. Alternatively, ask the other students for suggestions as to what they would take with them and record the list of items.

  3. Explain that, on this occasion, the ‘refugee’ has been given the opportunity to decide what he or she will take on the journey. He or she at least has a small amount of time to prepare and may have been able to pack a few precious things. Explain that often, this is not true for refugees and displaced people.

  4. Often, due to war and fighting, people are forced to leave their homes very suddenly. Many people flee at night in the hope that they will not be spotted. Many refugees have nothing apart from the possessions that they are carrying – they have left behind everything that they have worked for, everything that makes their house their home. Often, they not only have to carry their possessions, but also their small children. Often, they are forced to leave some of their family members behind, knowing that they may never see them again.

Time for reflection

Let’s spend a moment in quietness as we think about the following questions.

- How would it feel to be taken from your surroundings, and perhaps from your family and friends? Frightening? Stressful? Isolating? Humiliating because you have to depend on others for your most basic needs?
What would you have to rely on?
What resources would you have? Personal strength, perhaps?
How could you make sense of what was happening?
Where could you find hope for the future? In the goodness of people? In what you believe?

Optional: Psalm 137.1-6 was written when the Jewish people were in exile from their homeland. The verses give us a sense of the pain that people feel when they find themselves in this position.

Dear God,
We pray for the thousands of displaced people in the world today.
We can only imagine the terrible feelings that they experience.
We ask that you will show us the part we can play in helping them.
We thank you for everything that we have and the families who care for us.

Publication date: September 2016   (Vol.18 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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