A Publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland
Catholic Voice Online Edition
Front Page In this Issue Around the Diocese Forum News in Brief Calendar Commentary
Mission Statement
Contact Us
Publication Dates
Back Issues

Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland

Movie Reviews

Mass Times

Catholic Voice
articles list
placeholder How chrism oil
is made

'We're doing
something tonight
that is very,
very holy'

hymns part of
parish's Lenten

Children are the
theme of Catholic
Advocacy Day

Students learn
what a Rice Bowl
contribution can do

Summer Camps, Schools & Activities

Close games
cap CYO Boys
Basketball playoffs

Spectators cheering Girls' Volleyball championship

24 teams join for
girls eastern
basketball playoffs

Young Authors Faire provides a forum
for talented writers

Some cool summer school and camps

Senior Living
& Resources

New food truck
to help stem
senior hunger

Just for Seniors
Events Calendar

The 'Heart' of Mercy: Longtime volunteer honored

Senior Services

Activities planned around the diocese
for Fatima centennial


Sister Barbara Anderson, SL

Sister Evangela Balde, OP

Rev. Gene Wilson, CPPS

Help honor your outstanding

placeholder April 17, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 8    •   Oakland, CA

Thomas Awiapo explains the cardboard Rice Bowl box to pupils.

Students learn what a Rice Bowl contribution can do

A snack changed Thomas Awiapo's life.

Giving up a snack might just change someone else's, Awiapo told eager young listeners at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Fremont on March 30.

Return your rice bowls
to your parish

Stories, reflections, recipes and donation information at www.crsricebowl.org
Awiapo, toward the end of his nine-week tour of the United States on behalf of Catholic Relief Services, found himself at a place he knew well. When he was a graduate student at California State University Hayward — it was Hayward, then, not East Bay, he pointed out — the parish offered him housing for a few months. He had visited the school at that time, too.

"I feel at home here," he told the students, who gathered in two assemblies, one for the primary grades and the other for fourth- through eighth-graders.

Sister Janice Therese Wellington, OP, principal, told the students that Awiapo was there to tell them about "something you've been doing since the beginning of Lent."

Awiapo began his presentation by folding the cardboard Rice Bowl. When you put it together, he told the students, "You are assembling many, many broken lives."

One of those broken lives was his own.

"When I was a child, I received help from this little box," he said.

"Does what you're doing make a difference in the life of anyone?" he asked the students.

He pointed to himself.

Born in a village in Ghana about 50 years ago, he and his brothers were orphaned as children.

"We were four little boys without parents," he said.

The eldest brother ran away. The two younger brothers died, likely from lack of food.

"Because I was hungry, I was always looking for food," he said. "I smelled good cooking at a school."

There was a catch.

"The teachers wouldn't give you food unless you sit in class," he said. "I loved the food. I hated the school." He walked five miles each way to Catholic Relief Services-sponsored school.

"I went to school just for that little snack."

That snack, which was cream of wheat, launched an academic career that was supported by religious orders. He completed high school and college, and came to the United States on a scholarship to earn a master's degree in public administration.

He returned to Ghana, where he works for Catholic Relief Services.

"My job: I trick children to go to school," he said. In addition to working in educational support, Awiapo works with savings and international lending cooperatives; maternal; and child health; and water initiatives in his country.

His own children, he said, "are in school, whether they like it or not."

Awiapo said he understands that "education is liberation."

"The power of a little snack is the greatest gift I've ever received," he said. "All it takes is a little act of kindness. Rice Bowl is one of those little acts of kindness."

Seventy-five percent of contributions to CRS Rice Bowl go to overseas programs, such as the school where Awiapo found his future, with 25 percent remaining in the local diocese for programs that feed the hungry. Forty East Bay agencies received $31,000 in grants from the 2016 collection.

The students asked Awiapo a number of questions about life in his village in Ghana. Third-graders were particularly happy to learn that his family has a pet monkey. Curious George is their class mascot.

back to topup arrow


Copyright © 2017 The Catholic Voice, All Rights Reserved. Site design by Sarah Kalmon-Bauer.