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> Learning More, Creating Change: Malawi

1800 024 413

> Learning More, Helping Many: Cambodia

> Advocating For Change: India

The Catholic agency for international aid and development

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”


- Hebrews 13.16

This year marks 50 years of Project Compassion, our annual Lenten fundraising and awareness-raising appeal. Lent is the time when we put our faith into action through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Every year since 1965 our Caritas community has demonstrated our faith, our compassion and our generosity towards the most vulnerable members of our global family.

THANK YOU We thank you sincerely for all your support in 2015. By listening to the voices of our partners and the people we serve, you have contributed to our work with the most marginalised communities, offering the gift of a future filled with hope.

With your support, Project Compassion has grown to be one of Australia’s largest humanitarian fundraising and awarenessraising campaigns. Last year, your support for Project Compassion contributed $11.57 million towards Caritas Australia’s humanitarian and long-term development programs in more than 40 countries, including programs in partnerships with First Australian communities. In March last year, Pope Francis declared the year from December 2015 to November 2016 “an Extraordinary Jubilee, which has at its centre the mercy of God.” In his Lenten Message for 2015, Pope Francis said: “How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!” This message has special significance for us this year. The Year of Mercy coincides with the milestone of 50 years of Project Compassion. As we celebrate a half century of faith in action, let us show our solidarity with our global family, continuing to assist those who are most marginalised. This is a time that our support is greatly needed. Extreme climate events and devastating civil wars are threatening the land and livelihoods of our sisters and brothers around the world. This is also a time when our national government has made significant cuts to Australia’s contribution to international aid. With your continued generosity, together we can live the mercy of God, being faithful and steadfast in our love and compassion for our sisters and brothers.

Paul O’Callaghan, CEO

In the last part of the year, thanks to your generosity, Global Gifts and our Christmas Appeal were a great success. If you sent family members or friends a Global Gifts card, we hope they were pleased to receive a gift that has made a difference to the lives of many children, women and men living in poverty around the world. In marking 50 years of Project Compassion, we celebrate the compassion of our supporters past and present. Thanks to you, we have been able to work to end poverty, promote justice and uphold the dignity of millions of people in our global family.



Caritas Australia, 24-32 O’Riordan St, Alexandria NSW 2015

1800 024 413 (toll free)

9am – 5pm AEST Monday – Friday

Cover: Dominic, featured on page 7, with his wife and two of their children outside their home in Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea. The Community Conversations program, supported by Caritas Australia, has brought harmony to Dominic’s family and their community. Photo: Richard Wainwright. All photos Caritas Australia unless otherwise stated.

Caritas Australia acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians, past and present, of the land on which all our offices are located.

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Caritas Australia is a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).

Caritas Australia is fully accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Please note: some of the programs featured in this issue of CaritasNews are funded by Caritas Australia and the Australian Government.


LEARNING MORE, CREATING CHANGE This year, with the theme ‘Learning more, creating change’, Project Compassion highlights education as the means to a better future for people living in poverty around the world. Our stories for the six weeks of Lent are stories of empowerment through learning. Project Compassion 2016 shows us how education and training can offer new hope. Through learning more, members of vulnerable communities are empowered to share their skills and create positive changes for all.


With your support and compassion, our agency will be able to accompany our sisters and brothers as they follow the path of training and education to a better future.

WEEK 1: MALAWI Caritas Australia is working with our local partner in Malawi, CADECOM, to offer skills training so that vulnerable communities can increase their literacy skills, learn new agriculture and income generation techniques and build new livelihoods. Read Doney’s story on pages 4 and 5.

WEEK 2: LAOS In Laos, the Intellectual Disabilities Unit enables children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to attend school so that they can learn, grow and reach their full potential. The Unit’s program also runs workshops for parents and volunteer caregivers of children living with disabilities. Read Hum Noy’s story on page 6.

WEEK 3: PAPUA NEW GUINEA In Papua New Guinea, Caritas Australia and the Sisters of Notre Dame, our local partner, established the Community Conversations program, which addresses violence and gender inequality. Through the program, community members undertake training in communication and problem solving skills, becoming powerful agents for change. Read Dominic’s story on page 7.

Through the Mondulkiri Community Health Program in Cambodia, supported by Caritas Australia, Sreymom has enhanced her skills as a midwife. Now she shares her knowledge about children’s health with Indigenous communities in remote villages (see page 9). Photo: Richard Wainwright

WEEK 4: AUSTRALIA Djilpin Arts Ghunmarn Culture Centre in Beswick, Northern Territory, is a community-owned venture, supported by Caritas Australia’s Development of Cultural Enterprise program. This venture enables First Australian Elders to share traditional skills and cultural knowledge with younger generations. Read Evangeline’s story on page 8.

“Education is an act of hope.”

WEEK 5: CAMBODIA Caritas Cambodia, supported by Caritas Australia, established the Mondulkiri Community Health Program to improve the health of Indigenous people in vulnerable communities, and to help train, support and empower local health centre staff. Read Sreymom’s story on page 9.

– Pope Francis, 2014

WEEK 6: INDIA Caritas Australia and the Australian Government support the grassroots Hamara Haq (‘Our Rights’) project in India’s tribal belt. Run by Caritas India, Hamara Haq helps some of the most marginalised rural communities to develop the skills to advocate for their rights, direct their own development and participate in India’s growing economy. Read Dhaniram’s story on page 10.


ACT Use #ProjectCompassion to share your photos and messages at and

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Doney’s story is set in a remote village in Malawi, one of the world’s least-developed countries. It is a story of hope, combining her thirst for education, her local community’s natural resources, and an innovative program that enables the community to share its collective strengths. Malawi has a largely rural population; its economy is based heavily in agriculture. Communities face poverty and isolation, and food shortages many times in the year. Their health and their livelihoods are challenged by poor hygiene, lack of sanitation and insufficient safe drinking water. To address this, the local Caritas agency, CADECOM (the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi), is running the Integrated Community Development Program (ICDP). This program helps Malawian communities to identify their assets and understand how to build on them, and is supported by Caritas Australia and the Australian Government. Through the ICDP, villagers participate in workshops and training in adult literacy, agriculture and income generation. Programs to improve water, sanitation and hygiene are also offered, and with CADECOM’s assistance Doney’s community now has a borehole for easy access to clean water for drinking, cooking and washing. The ICDP also helps families to build hand-washing facilities at their homes, and provides education on hygiene. The incidence of waterborne diseases in the area has been reduced, and there have been dramatic improvements to health, including a significant reduction in cases of diarrhoea. With improved health, children can attend school more frequently.

Photos: Andrew Garrick.

EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE Before her experience with the program, Doney had only completed primary school. But her passion for education was recognised as a strength. “I was chosen by the community, and after that CADECOM took me for training in Adult Literacy as a Facilitator,” she says. Education brought Doney new skills, and new influence in her community. She is now teaching literacy and numeracy to adults in her village. “In the past people didn’t know how to read and write. They didn’t even know the direction of the bus as they didn’t know how to read the signposts. Now many are able to read and write.” A Village Savings and Loans group was introduced, enabling people to borrow money to invest in starting their own small businesses. “My husband Nedson is a tailor,” Doney says. “When we get funds from Village Savings and Loans we buy materials for him to sew. We sell the products and through this we get money to pay our children’s school fees.” Even though just 7 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds in Malawi complete secondary education, Doney is determined that her five children will complete secondary school. “I encourage my children to attain education so that they can be independent in the future. This would make me proud!”

“My life has been changed. I am more knowledgeable, and I have a vision.” Doney and her son, Junior, use the hand-washing facility introduced through the Integrated Community Development Program, which is supported by Caritas Australia and the Australian Government.

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– Doney

A SHARED VISION Through the program, CADECOM has worked with Doney’s community to harness its natural resources. Empowering the community to make the most of its land, CADECOM trained families in new farming techniques, and they are producing more plentiful crops. “The problem of malnutrition in my household is an old song now,” says Doney. “It is important to use the local resources that we have so that our lives can improve. We have water here, and land, which can move us out of poverty.”


The village as a whole has mapped out a vision for the future, incorporating the vision of each family. This vision includes plans for community members to learn new livelihood techniques, like beekeeping and making baked goods for sale, and ways to increase access to clean water and healthcare.


“My life has been changed,” Doney says. “I am more knowledgeable, and I have a vision.”

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than 80 per cent of the population live in rural communities, and for more than one-third of rural households farming or fishing is the only way to earn a livelihood. About three-quarters of the population live below the poverty line. Almost 30 per cent of poor children do not even start primary school. The rates of malnutrition and of maternal and infant mortality are high, and life expectancy is only around 50 years.




Your donation can help Caritas Australia support communities in Malawi. Together we can improve conditions for some of the poorest families, making it possible to access education, clean drinking water, and better nutrition. Call toll free on1800 024 413 or visit

At a meeting, Doney’s community discuss and map out their shared vision for a better future.

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HUM NOY’S STORY – TEACHING CHILDREN TO GROW Living with an intellectual disability is particularly challenging when you come from a poor family in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), a country where more than a third of the population live below the poverty line. Laos has an agrarian-based economy; most jobs require physical labour and mobility, and some believe that people with disabilities cannot contribute and are a burden. There are almost no support services or facilities for families who have a child with an intellectual disability. Eight-year-old Hum Noy from Laos has Down Syndrome, and significant learning difficulties. When his father passed away his mother, Duangmala, 46, struggled to manage on her own with two children. She dreamed of a better life and a better future for her son: “I just want him to be able to communicate, talk and understand me. I want him to have friends.”

Hum Noy’s mother, Duangmala, has hope for her son’s future. Photos: Richard Wainwright

But Hum Noy was faced with discrimination and limited learning opportunities, The Intellectual Disabilities Unit is currently the and Duangmala feared he might never reach his full potential — until she was only program of its kind in Laos, but the impact it introduced to the Intellectual Disabilities Unit. is having on the lives of these children and their families is immeasurable. Through supportive learning programs, children like Hum Noy can build vital skills and relationships, and find new – Duangmala opportunities that would otherwise be closed to them.

“It’s important to use our knowledge to help our children grow and develop.”

The unit, set up by the Lao Disabled People’s Association with the support of Caritas Australia, provides learning support and nurturing care to 50 children with intellectual disabilities. Located in the Laos capital, Vientiane, the Unit enables children living with intellectual disabilities to learn, grow and reach their full potential. The program also runs a series of workshops for parents, teachers and caregivers to better equip them to care for children with special needs.

Hum Noy’s experience of school has reduced his isolation and frustration, and his communication skills have advanced quickly. “He is learning how to follow instructions and say the names of his teachers and friends,” Duangmala says. “He likes to draw and play instruments, and when they do aerobics he joins in. Now he communicates better.” Duangmala has also gained new opportunities through the program, including training to become a teacher at Hum Noy’s school. “I’m proud that my child has a chance to learn and that I am able to help other children through my work.”

LEARN > Hum Noy with his teacher and a fellow student at his school in Laos, a specialist school for children with an intellectual disability. Caritas Australia supports the school’s programs.

More about the Intellectual Disabilities Unit program in Laos, and its potential to expand and enhance the future of other children, at #ProjectCompassion

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DOMINIC’S STORY – CREATING A HARMONIOUS FUTURE The 7.6 million people of Papua New Guinea (PNG) live in thousands of individual communities, mostly in rural areas, and speak about 850 languages. Most people depend on small-scale agriculture for a livelihood, and about one-third live in poverty. Generational poverty has created many challenges for communities throughout PNG, including crime, gender inequality, alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Dominic, 36, witnessed these difficulties daily as he grew up in a large village in PNG’s Jiwaka province. Now a farmer and a father of four, he acknowledges that some of these challenges have affected him in his adult life. “I was very impatient with my wife, and short tempered. I took alcohol. I couldn’t say no to beer if my elder brothers offered. I was the one that made the decisions. I was the boss of the house.” Then the Community Conversations program was established by local partner the Sisters of Notre Dame and supported by Caritas Australia, to enable community members to learn communication and problem solving skills. For Dominic, this was his opportunity to create change. “I was inspired to hear of the different issues highlighted and processes used to come up with solutions. Something pierced my heart, as these issues are real and people face these situations every day.”

Dominic attended Community Conversations training with the Sisters of Notre Dame in Papua New Guinea. Photos: Richard Wainwright

“Before, I didn’t know that I carry a lot of power within to change myself and others around me.” – Dominic

Through regular Community Conversations training sessions, Dominic gained insight and learnt skills to help him lead open, respectful community discussions in his village. “I’ve applied the skills I learnt from Community Conversations very well,” says Dominic. “I have educated councillors [at local government level] using the principle of ‘power within’, where leadership powers can be shared in solidarity in the area where I live. In the past only males made the decisions. Now everyone has a voice, women and young people, and peace is maintained that way.” Big changes are happening within families, including Dominic’s. “The biggest change in my life is better use of income. I used to misuse family income on alcohol. After getting schooled in Community Conversations, I let my wife and children partake in decisions affecting our family and I have quit alcohol.” The Community Conversations program has provided the whole village with a forum, empowering community members to voice concerns, and come together to discuss problems and take steps to create a safer, more caring community. A Community Conversations session even sparked a decision to build a new road, which has opened up a new world of opportunities for the village. With reduced violence and alcohol abuse, and a growth in peace and mutual respect, Dominic’s community has a chance to create a better future. “I am most proud of the positive changes I am witnessing,” Dominic says. “Community Conversations has made a big difference. When we start to realise we have power to stand independently to change ourselves and help ourselves, we feel liberated.”

> Dominic leads a Community Conversations training session, encouraging constructive conversations on the key challenges faced by the community.

DONATE Your donation to Project Compassion will help Caritas Australia support more communities to work together to reduce violence and achieve greater harmony. See or call toll free on 1800 024 413. #ProjectCompassion #144 AUTUMN 2016 | 7


EVANGELINE’S STORY – CONNECTING YOUTH TO TRADITIONAL CULTURE First Australian Evangeline, 25, from the Ramingining community, lives in Wugularr (Beswick) in the Northern Territory. Like many remote communities, Beswick faces a range of complex, ongoing challenges.

Left: Evangeline, an Artsworker at Djilpin Arts Ghunmarn Culture Centre. Right: Woven baskets produced through the Centre, which is supported by Caritas Australia. Photos: Danielle Lyonne

traditional skills and cultural knowledge through sharing art, storytelling, dance and song – practices that are central to traditional culture. The program provides opportunities for training in business management skills and hospitality, empowering Artsworkers like Evangeline with responsibility for the Cultural Centre. Artsworkers regularly develop new cultural enterprises by merging cultural artforms and contemporary techniques to design, produce, exhibit and sell new products. These include artworks, sculpture, body soaps and jewellery.

Many people feel disempowered by poorly conceived government policies and decisions. The ongoing legacies of colonisation and inadequate access to services and meaningful jobs contribute to general feelings of helplessness, rejection and loss. Many families struggle with financial hardship. “Not enough jobs, housing is too crowded, and there are alcohol problems and health problems,” Evangeline explains.

“This opportunity has helped me turn my life into something more positive,” Evangeline says. “It makes me more confident and more independent.”

Evangeline left high school after Year 11. Even though she liked school, she didn’t consider doing Year 12. “Not everyone at Beswick finishes high school,” she says.

Evangeline excelled in the program, and was invited back to Melbourne to mentor new undergraduates, and share her experience, culture and learnings.

She tried a few career options, without success, and soon felt dispirited. “But later, I really started to think about doing something positive with my life.”

Evangeline has undertaken many training programs in the past three years, and was the youngest Artsworker ever to be accepted into the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists Artsworkers Extension Program. The program took her to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. “We visited the big art galleries, learning about conservation and collections. I had to give talks about Djilpin Arts,” she says.

In her latest role as Senior Artsworker, Evangeline is committed to helping her community remain connected to their culture. She regularly goes to the bush with her Elders to learn more about traditional ways.

When she was offered a position as an Artsworker at the Djilpin Arts Ghunmarn Culture Centre in Beswick, Evangeline realised she had found a path to a new future. The Centre is an entirely community-owned venture, supported by Caritas Australia’s Development of Cultural Enterprise program. Djilpin Arts brings together Elders and young people like Evangeline, so that new generations can learn



More about the Djilpin Arts Development of Cultural Enterprise program, at

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“If I share my knowledge, other young people might get interested in keeping culture. Culture is our identity and how we understand ourselves. It’s important for us young people to be able to learn these skills and then we can pass them on.” – Evangeline


SREYMOM’S STORY – LEARNING MORE, HELPING MANY Sreymom, 26, lives in the remote Mondulkiri province in Northeast Cambodia. The Indigenous communities in this region face many complex health issues, arising from insufficient clean drinking water, inconsistent food supplies, poor sanitation, and limited access to health services. The maternal mortality rate is very high – 250 women for every 100,000 live births, which is 50 times higher than in Australia.

Sreymom has increased her skills and confidence as a midwife through the Mondulkiri Community Health Program, supported by Caritas Australia. Photos: Richard Wainwright

“It is very important to share knowledge with others.” – Sreymom

my skill and knowledge, and new guidelines are applied in my health centre when people access delivery services. I have more understanding of my role and responsibility for providing delivery service and referrals.” Villagers in Cambodia’s remote Mondulkiri province attend workshops run by Sreymom through the Mondulkiri Community Health Program, learning how to care for their children’s health.

After training as a midwife, Sreymom began work at the Health Centre in Mondulkiri province with responsibility for antenatal care services, delivery, breastfeeding education and post-natal care. She was eager to begin caring for Indigenous mothers and children in the surrounding villages. However, she lacked practical delivery experience. “When I had to assist a delivery, my body and knees were trembling. I was losing confidence.” A local healthcare worker helped Sreymom to enrol in the Mondulkiri Community Health Program for additional experience and training. This program, supported by Caritas Australia, was established by Caritas Cambodia to improve the health of Indigenous people living in five of the most vulnerable communities in the Mondulkiri region. The program helps to train and empower local health centre staff.

Sreymom now delivers babies regularly, and offers community members training in nutrition and healthcare for their children, as well as sanitation and hygiene. “In the community, my status has changed; I am getting a warm welcome from villagers, more recognition, and trust … [in] my skills.” More patients are now accessing the health centre’s services. Sreymom’s training has brought the realisation that “it is very important to share knowledge with others. This sharing has increased villagers’ knowledge of children’s healthcare, and their children are in better health … I am happy when a villager applies what they have learnt.”

“I was very interested to participate in this good opportunity,” says Sreymom. “I wanted to increase my skill and knowledge.” In the intensive training course Sreymom was coached in delivering babies by an experienced midwife, and learnt new techniques to help improve the health of mothers and babies during pregnancy, childbirth and infancy. Her training empowered her to facilitate deliveries at the health centre, saving pregnant women from travelling great distances to provincial hospitals. “I really improved my life and the life of the community’s people. If we did not have the program, more pregnant women would face death. I have increased


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#ProjectCompassion #144 AUTUMN 2016 | 9



Dhaniram, 24, lives in a region of Central India known as the tribal belt. More than 7.8 million people live here, from 645 distinct tribes. People belonging to the Scheduled Tribes of India have been subject to marginalisation and discrimination for generations, and they are among the poorest of all people in India.

In Dhaniram’s village there are 117 households; nearly every family lives hand to mouth. Many people, including Dhaniram, have to work as ‘daily wage’ labourers, constantly searching for work. Like many communities across the tribal belt, Dhaniram’s village was unaware of the Indian Government’s social security schemes for supporting the most vulnerable communities. “There is a low rate of literacy in my village and a low level of awareness of our own rights and entitlements,” says Dhaniram. Upholding tribal rights is a key focus of Caritas India. The Hamara Haq (‘Our Rights’) program, supported by Caritas Australia and the Australian Government, has been implemented in five districts across the State of Chhattisgarh to help communities learn about their rights and entitlements. Hamara Haq also enables people to strengthen locally recognised traditional governance systems, so that communities can determine their own way out of poverty. Dhaniram is driven to help create change in his village. When his wife told him about Hamara Haq, he immediately joined the program. “I began attending different training sessions,” he recalls. “I became more interested and drawn into the implementation of the program as I got to learn new and important things.” Dhaniram received training in human rights, leadership, local governance, legislation and forestry rights, and soon realised the potential for change in his village. “I learnt how to speak in public and sort out various problems prevailing in our area.” Using his new knowledge, Dhaniram took the lead, helping to bring electricity to his village. He also navigated complex administrative processes to ensure that a stalled government housing project was restarted.

Dhaniram, pictured here with his wife and son, has trained as a community advocate. Now his family and community have better living conditions and a better future. Photos: Filmbooth

Noorul, a Caritas India Project Coordinator, notes: “It was because of Dhaniram’s untiring efforts that 84 villagers have stopped waiting and now have houses of their own.” Empowered by his learnings and experience, Dhaniram has persuaded many community members to join local government planning meetings so that villagers have a voice and can direct the development of their own communities. “I am passionate because I feel that this village is mine and we all should live a good life,” Dhaniram says. “Resources are available for us. The thing that we need to do is to come together and actively participate in decision making. We are now empowered to speak up and ask for our rights.” So passionate is his belief that he sometimes spends his time learning and sharing his knowledge rather than seeking daily labour. “I may live a day without having food, but if I miss this knowledge sharing and capacity building program I will lose my livelihood forever, and will be deprived of what I am entitled to get, and the rights to secure my future,” he says. “For that I can sacrifice today.”

“It is knowledge through which people make a great difference in society and bring about a positive change exactly the way I did in my village.” – Dhaniram


> As part of the Hamara Haq project, Dhaniram and fellow villagers meet to learn about their rights and discuss local issues.

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See Dhaniram share his story at #ProjectCompassion




could provide schooling for four children with an intellectual disability for one year in Laos.

could construct a borehole that would provide 500 households with access to clean water in Malawi.


could provide two days of training for health centre staff so they can share new knowledge about childhood nutrition with local communities in Cambodia.


could provide a young person with training on how to lead Community Conversations to discuss issues they face in Papua New Guinea.

$100 could provide the educational resources to support a young woman to become a voice in her community in Papua New Guinea.


could help a family build an energysaving stove which uses less firewood, to conserve the natural environment in Malawi.


$1,150 could provide a skills-building workshop for artists where Elders pass on traditional cultural knowledge to younger generations in Australia.


$390 could construct a toilet and improve sanitation for a family in Malawi.


$200 could provide a two-day training workshop for 10 villagers on their legal rights in India.



could provide potting soil and seeds, so that children with intellectual disabilities can enjoy gardening activities in Laos.


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This Lent, your compassion can create real and lasting change. With the help of Caritas Australia's local partner, Doney and people in her community in Malawi have learned to harness their strengths. Today they are building new livelihoods and developing literacy skills to create paths to a better, more sustainable future.

“My life has been transformed” – Doney

YES, I want to empower communities to learn more and create change

$75 could help families with energy-saving

$150 could help construct a toilet for

cooking equipment

a family to improve sanitation


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$250 could help construct a borehole to provide households with access to clean water

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Profile for Caritas Australia

Caritas News Autumn 2016  

Caritas News Autumn 2016