More than 50 young people learnt what is was like to live in the slums of Brazil as they pitched up in cardboard boxes and ate pigs’ ears recently.
Some 56 of the 12 to 18 year olds took part in the ‘I Am Somebody’ slum challenge at Linton over the weekend of April 4, 5 and 6 to raise awareness of homelessness and money for the Amos Trust Street Challenge World Cup, which ran over the same weekend.
Those taking part had two meals a day – one at 8am and one at 8pm – and were woken at 7am to collect firewood with which to cook their breakfast.
Their meals consisted of half a tin of rice, a half tin of bean stew, and the Brazilian dish feijoada, made of pigs’ ears from the local butcher.
They lived in houses made from cardboard pallets and were unable to change clothes throughout the weekend.
Mobile phones and other electronic gadgetry was banned.
After rising early on the Saturday the teenagers completed a litter pick, sawed through a tree that had been felled in a recent storm and did a car wash.
Having pocketed around four pence for their endeavours the group later donned bubble suits to contest a four-a-side football tournament with teams for each of the Street Challenge World Cup competing nations.
The teens had to rebuild their homes after they were levelled in an ‘eviction’, and opened a community café up to serve up some favela treats.
A Christian teacher spoke to the young people about his time in Africa and on the Sunday (April 6) Linton’s three churches shared a ‘slum communion’ with them.
Organiser Barry Easton, lead youth worker with the Beacon Community Trust, said: “It was phenomenal – everyone felt very good about what they had done.
“We started with 56, lost four and gained three – some people left because they were so upset, disheartened, tired, hungry and angry.
“The whole challenge was constantly wearing them down.
“It was trying to re-enact homelessness in third world countries.
“One young guy just started crying one evening as it all got a little too much for some people, but served as a reminder that some people don’t have the chance to go back home, and that is what they came to understand.
“It was an amazing weekend, and a lot of them didn’t realise how hard it would be as many thought it would just be a camp and a party.
“I was stunned by the young people, by their commitment and how they immersed themselves in it and am 98 per cent pleased with what happened.
“It exceeded my expectations and we’ll see if they’re still talking to me after Easter.
“It has been a privilege to work with the young people of Linton.”
The amount of sponsorship raised is likely to be more than £1,000.
The event followed on from ‘Slum Survivor’, which was held in 2010.
Although it will not be an annual event, it will likely return in the future.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, April 17) Echo.