STUDENTS are appealing for one million buttons to help create a monument in their school to raise awareness of the horrors of genocide.
Youngsters at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville were so moved after studying cases of mass murder in the name of racial or religious prejudice, they decided to make a permanent sculpture to say ‘never again’.
The group of 27 year nine boys and girls came up with the idea of four transparent pillars pinned to the compass points of a painted atlas, each filled with a quarter of a million buttons representing the loss of humanity.
And now they need the public to unpick their blouses and coats to help make their vision come true.
Esme Scott, 14, explained: ‘You get buttons on clothes, and clothes signify the humanity of people.
‘Genocide is all about taking away that humanity. Every button has a story and we hope people affected by genocide will share them with us.’
She added: ‘Genocide was not an easy topic to study, and two aspects of it upset me.
‘The first was seeing people who were once friends turning on each other because of prejudices.
‘And the other was how, during the Rwandan genocide, the European countries went in to save their people but left the Rwandans behind to be massacred.
‘We can’t forget about genocides, even though we might not want to remember.
‘All it takes is for someone in power to look down on a certain group and suddenly things get out of control.’
Jade Anthony, 14, who came up with the idea for the pillars said she was proud of her classmates for making a lasting tribute to genocide.
She said: ‘We studied the Holocaust and heard individual stories from survivors which were upsetting.
‘Terrible things also happened in Rwanda and Bosnia and all over the world. It made us think about how lucky we were to be sheltered from such things.’
Mugeni Sumba, RE teacher, said: ‘I am overwhelmed with the maturity of my students. Genocide is a harrowing subject but behind it are prejudices everyone sees in daily life – for example, teasing people for being ginger.
‘Sadly the Holocaust is just one example of how humanity can take away the dignity of other people.’
Buttons can be sent to The Genocide Project, Oaklands Catholic School, Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville PO7 7BW or call (023) 9225 9214.