CARITASNEWS #145 | WINTER 2016
AGENTS OF MERCY A community of healing and hope > Comfort in crisis: Syria
> The seed of hope: Cambodia
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> Protecting our children: Papua New Guinea The Catholic agency for international aid and development
“Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”
FROM THE CEO We have been blessed at Caritas Australia (CA) over recent months in a number of ways. Together with our Caritas Oceania colleagues, we were able to assist the Archdiocese in Suva in its response to the terrible damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston. Our involvement will continue over the coming couple of years.
— Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi message, March 2013
We are also pleased with the preliminary findings of a federal government accreditation review of CA. Every NGO receiving federal aid funding has to undergo this review five-yearly. If re-accreditation is granted, the NGO will continue to receive funding. Although we await formal notification of the outcome of accreditation, we were pleased that the reviewers commended Caritas’ strong practices and continuous improvement in a range of areas, including governance, programs, partnerships, community engagement and risk management. I am also pleased to advise that CA’s relationship with Catholic Mission has improved significantly as a result of a joint effort to build collaboration. This is a most welcome development. In view of the frequent confusion at parish and school level across Australia about the respective mandates of CA and Catholic Mission, we have agreed to send out a brief statement to our audiences. We also plan joint work in several areas. Another wonderful blessing was the recognition given by a major Indian NGO to our national office colleague, Kylie Supramaniam. Kylie was recognised as an “Inspiring woman leader in international development working with tribal women”. See page 7. Finally, our national office team was thrilled to participate in a celebratory morning tea to welcome ten of the babies born most recently to our staff. CA is certainly the most prolific workplace I have had the joy to work in. It is hard to believe, but none of the babies cried! Perhaps they were affected by the spirit of hope that infuses an agency working to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity. Regards
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Thank you for supporting Project Compassion 2016. This year’s campaign marked 50 years since the first national appeal was held in Lent of 1965, raising the equivalent of $90,000 towards community ‘self-help’ projects in countries like Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and Malaysia. Thank you for welcoming our international Project Compassion visitors who shared their stories in parishes and schools across Australia: Marie Mondu from our office in Papua New Guinea, and Martin Mazinga from Caritas Malawi. Thank you for your great generosity in supporting the people of Fiji after the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Winston in late February.
CONTENTS 03 AGENTS OF MERCY 04 NEPAL: REBUILDING LIVES 05 SYRIA: COMFORT IN CRISIS 06 ZIMBABWE: SOURCE OF MERCY 07 INDIA: MAKING CONNECTIONS 08 CAMBODIA: PLANTING THE SEED OF HOPE FOR MERCY: 09 EDUCATING CONFERENCE AND RESOURCES CARITAS KITCHEN
Paul O’Callaghan, CEO
Caritas Australia, 24-32 O’Riordan St, Alexandria NSW 2015
THANK YOU FOR CARING
10 PAPUA NEW GUINEA: PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN 11 SUPPORTERS SPEAK
youtube.com/CaritasAustralia Cover: Top photo: The people of Simangani Village in Zimbabwe worked together on a Caritas-supported irrigation scheme. Bottom photo: With the scheme in place, the community has rich crops to harvest. See more on page 6. 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.
AGENTS OF MERCY
A COMMUNITY OF HEALING AND HOPE In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to “gaze more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives”. What is mercy, and how do we practise it in our lives and our work? Sister Anne McGuire, Caritas Australia’s Head of Mission, explains.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Nelson Mandela frequently used the concept of ‘Ubuntu’ (an African word meaning ‘without you there is no me’) to express their understanding of what it means to be merciful. For them, ‘Ubuntu’ captures the quality of mercy that is core to being a good global neighbour. A person who is merciful is welcoming; hospitable; warm; generous; willing to share; open and available to others (from Meeting the Global Citizen in You, Mercy Global Concern, New York 2010). Mercy is both around us, and within us. As Anne Gilroy rsj writes: ‘When Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy, and threw open a door which had been previously bricked up, his symbolic action reminded many in the Church of the plea of Pope St John XXIII for the Second Vatican Council to “open the windows” and let God’s Spirit blow in – and out! ‘Mercy should be practised by both individuals and institutions. Opening the door to mercy is a personal as well as a community challenge. Just as a door is an entry and an exit, so the work of mercy is within and around us … ‘The call for mercy is not just for personal practice. It’s a year for the Church to relieve suffering more intentionally, allowing healing and hope to well up within the community, in neighbourhoods and around the world’ (Anne Gilroy rsj, ‘Happy New Year of Mercy’, Tui Moto InterIslands Magazine, 25 January 2016).
“Divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit.” — Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2016, 4 October 2015
This issue highlights acts of mercy that empower women and men living in vulnerable circumstances to work towards a future of hope and healing. We can all be agents of mercy: people working in our agency; Caritas Australia’s partners; our supporters; and people living in poverty who demonstrate mercy towards each other, building a better future together through their generosity and compassion. In this issue: • Support is strong for the people of Nepal on the first anniversary of the 2015 earthquakes — page 4 • Five years since the Syrian conflict began, acts of mercy bring healing — page 5 • Hope “wells up” in Zimbabwe as a community collaborates to create a vital water source — page 6 • Supported by our partners in India, a marginalised community has a bridge to a new future — page 7 • In Cambodia, a Caritas Australia partner offers hope to people living with HIV and AIDS — page 8 • Education enables acts of mercy — page 9 • In Papua New Guinea, vulnerable children are empowered — page 10 • Supporters have a voice — page 11
ACT Australia goes to the polls on 2 July. Let’s make sure that the first thing our new government hears is our call for a fairer world where all people live with dignity. Complete the enclosed card or take action online at www.caritas.org.au/fairerworld
LEARN For more about Caritas Australia and the works of mercy, see www.caritas.org.au/mercy
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EMERGENCY UPDATE: NEPAL
On 25 April and 12 May 2015, two massive earthquakes shattered the lives of nearly a third of Nepal’s people.
In the disaster’s aftermath, a four-month emergency relief program by the Caritas Internationalis (CI) network provided immediate, life-saving assistance to more than 50,000 families in the form of food, water, shelter, and sanitation and hygiene support. At the request of Caritas Nepal, CI mandated Caritas Australia to be the facilitating agency for the coordination of the relief phase, and to continue the coordination of the first year of the recovery phase. See the Summer 2015 edition of CaritasNews, which outlined the CI response at the six-month mark. In addition, religious congregations in Nepal supported relief work for 56,044 households, provided support to 313 schools and established 42 temporary learning centres for 20,340 students. Since that time, a global Caritas recovery program has been planned, and is in its initial phase in some areas of Nepal. The program is intended to support the community in rebuilding its own future. The recovery program integrates four essential areas for households and communities affected by the earthquakes: • Support for livelihoods, and disaster risk reduction • Water, sanitation and hygiene activities • Protection for vulnerable and marginalised people, such as single women; women who head households; elderly people who manage homes; people living with disability, and children • Shelter
Caritas President Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (second from left) and Caritas Australia Deputy Chair Bishop Peter Stasiuk (third from left), with community representatives on a visit to Nepal earthquake survivors in Thokarpa during the Solidarity Conference. Support for this hard-hit mountain community included food, solar lamps, shelter materials and school repairs. Photo credit: Trócaire/Shahid Khan
“We love you because we believe in God! … we are all brothers and sisters. That is why we must help you, our brothers and sisters, especially when you experience a tragedy like an earthquake. We will not abandon you. We will help you. May God bless you all!” – Bishop Peter Stasiuk, address to Nepali villagers during Solidarity Conference, April 2016
From 25 to 27 April this year, Caritas Nepal held a Solidarity event to mark the first anniversary of the earthquakes. Caritas Australia representatives were present, including our Deputy Chair, Bishop Peter Stasiuk, and CEO, Paul O’Callaghan. As the conference began, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, said, “We are here to fill ourselves with courage and knowledge regarding how to best accompany the Nepalese people as they forge their future. “… Pope Francis has given us the opportunity to pump up our ‘compassion muscles’ this year by asking us to focus on mercy. True mercy has no geographical or spiritual boundaries. “Communities here in Nepal are resilient and are trying to rebuild their lives and revive their dreams but they cannot do it without our help.” The conference highlighted the importance of placing people, especially those who are most vulnerable, at the centre of the recovery response. “Caritas is love in action and love without borders,” said Cardinal Tagle. “We are here in Nepal not just to help rebuild homes and schools, help people get back to work or to ensure their water supply is repaired. We are here to offer hope.”
LEARN Earthquake-affected people rebuild homes after receiving training in earthquake-resistant techniques and standards and environmental sustainability. Photo credit: CRS/Jennifer Hardy
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The funds generously donated by our supporters are being used to support the people of Nepal in rebuilding their future together. For more information, see www.caritas.org.au/nepalearthquake
EMERGENCY UPDATE: SYRIA
COMFORT IN CRISIS
According to the UN, the Syrian crisis is the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. And the numbers show this. Since the conflict began five years ago, 12.2 million people of a population of 22.8 million have been forced to leave their homes, and at least 4 million people have fled the country. Lebanon’s population of 4.4 million has swelled by 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Syrians are living in conditions as deeply disturbing as these numbers. Most now live in poverty, in makeshift shelters, with little access to life’s necessities of water, long-term housing, hygiene, food, income, and education.
THE CARITAS COMMITMENT Caritas Australia has been deeply committed, in these five years, to supporting our most vulnerable brothers and sisters living in Syria, and as refugees in other countries.
Refugee camp in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, January 2015. Photo credit: Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center/Jean J. Khoury
“In this ocean of pain, I urge you to give special attention to the material and spiritual needs of the weakest and most defenceless.” – Pope Francis, Address on the Iraqi-Syrian Humanitarian Crisis, 17 September 2015
The global Caritas network has made a difference to millions of Syrians — 1.8 million in 2015 alone. With the generous assistance of our supporters and the Australian Government, Caritas Australia has helped local Caritas agencies in the Middle East to deliver programs. “We are making a difference to refugee families through immediate relief, providing people in crisis with food aid, shelter, health services, trauma counselling, and making temporary homes suitable for the winter. Syrian families I spoke to told me that this support has made a huge difference in their life.” — Suzy McIntyre, Humanitarian Program Coordinator, Global Programs and Partnerships, Caritas Australia. We are supporting our partners in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan through short-term and long-term programs. Programs focus on emergency assistance, providing refugee families with food, water, shelter, and non-food items (such as blankets, clothing, hygiene kits and heaters). Other programs we support meet longer term needs. These include healthcare, such as psychosocial and mental health support, educational and social services, and protection services for vulnerable refugees. In Lebanon, our support includes programs addressing the needs of survivors of sexual or gender based violence. In Jordan, Caritas Australia also supported Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanian families with healthcare programs for mothers and children.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE Suzy McIntyre welcomes the fact that “the focus is moving into longer term programs like education and protection.” She notes, “When I meet a Syrian family, I always ask them what their hopes are for the future, and the woman often says, ‘A good education and good outcomes for my children.’” Over five years after the start of the crisis, Caritas Australia reaffirms our ongoing support for our vulnerable Syrian sisters and brothers.
A Syrian refugee in Lebanon carries supplies to help his family endure the winter in a refugee camp. Photo credit: Caritas Switzerland
DONATE thank the Australian Government > We and our generous supporters for enabling
us to continue our humanitarian response work. Donating to Caritas Australia’s Middle East Crisis Appeal will help us continue to assist people impacted by the Syrian crisis. See www.caritas.org.au/syria
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SOURCE OF MERCY
Mercy has come in two guises to the people of Simangani Village in Hwange district, Zimbabwe. Before it came, the people in this area were living in hunger and poverty. Simangani’s people are farmers, and they battle with low rainfall, poor soils and very high temperatures. Food is in short supply, and some families have to walk up to 10km to collect water.
Mr Lingson Ncube during construction.
Mercy first came to the villagers in the form of outside support – from Caritas Hwange, our partner in the region, as well as from Caritas Australia and the Australian Government, through funding by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Construction engineer Vivian Dube, from the district’s Irrigation Department, said, “Working together made a difference. The local community shared this vision for a long time, and they want to farm and produce food. The canals were built by the villagers. I came in with demonstration and expertise. I only directed the plan, and what they did was use the trowels and lay the concrete. They were involved full time.”
But the support that has brought true hope to Simangani is that of its own people. Mr Christopher Nyoni, chairman of the Simangani Farmers Group, tells how the villagers found their own solution.
Seventy-two people of Simangani volunteered their services, including women, people looking after orphans and vulnerable children, and people with disabilities or with HIV. Many met for the first time during construction.
“Talking together at a community meeting, we realised that we needed an irrigation scheme. And we identified a source of water that never runs dry - the Deka River. We realised that building an irrigation canal from the river would allow us to draw water and farm all year round.” The community committed itself to providing the labour. Caritas Hwange sourced the construction materials and a water harvesting tank, which Caritas Australia funded, together with program running and monitoring costs.
Mr Lingson Ncube, a subsistence farmer with four children, said, “We share responsibilities. Strong people collect river sand in wheelbarrows, walking long distances; women do the plastering of the canal, and others bring food for the group working each day. This project has united us as a community.”
“We are called to make compassion, love, mercy and solidarity a true way of life.” – Pope Francis, Message for the Celebration of the 49th World Day of Peace, 1 January 2016
Now the canals have been constructed, and the people of Simangani have regular water for their agricultural activities. The irrigation scheme is helping them to develop sustainable livelihoods. They have received land for farming within the scheme, and training in conservation farming and planting droughtresistant crops. There is a market for their excess produce. Mr Super Dube, Caritas Hwange’s Diocesan Coordinator, says, “The project has brought the community together. Whenever a member falls sick or has a bereavement, other project members visit and assist.
Beatina Mudenda was a volunteer worker on the irrigation scheme construction. Now she has flourishing crops to harvest.
“It has also benefited individual members. For example, Mr Ncube was able to pay school fees for his two children. He was trained to be a builder in the project, and works actively. He is on the irrigation committee, helps to construct the reservoir tank, and mobilises the community to participate in the irrigation works. He has a sense of project ownership and is now closer to the rest of the community.” Working in solidarity, the Simangani community has truly been its own source of mercy.
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Kylie Supramaniam has been working with Caritas Australia for seven years. She recently received acclamation as an “Inspiring Woman Leader in International Development Working with Tribal Women”, for facilitating change within some of India’s tribal communities. Here she reflects on the work of Caritas Australia in two Indian states.
A river separates the 250 villagers from the main road 5km away, and some sections of the village from others. With neither bridges nor roads for crossing the river, villagers were frequently isolated for extended periods, particularly during the rainy season. People needed to cross the river to get to school, buy or sell products, and access medical care. The rainy season made this particularly challenging, and there were many fatalities. Since July 2013 Gram Nirman has empowered this community to come together to make decisions about their future and find their collective voice through surveys, focus group discussions, training and community-based groups. Working together, the people of Gadaghat identified the need for a bridge, and advocated collectively for government support. The bridge was built in a few months, and work is now underway for an all-seasons approach road. The bridge is being used extensively. People travel for medical treatment, education, and to gain better prices for their produce.
Caritas Australia’s Kylie Supramaniam, front right, received her award, conferred on 8 March, International Women’s Day, by AT India, a non-government organisation working with village communities. A former Caritas India employee nominated Kylie, commending her for “recognising and acknowledging the intrinsic value of communities and empowering them to create and sustain change”.
Through our local partner Caritas India, we have enjoyed a long-standing commitment to the Scheduled Tribes (Indigenous communities) of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. This caste is widely recognised as amongst India’s most vulnerable and marginalised groups. The Gram Nirman Program helps create sustainable and empowered communities by building villagers’ awareness of the entitlements and social security schemes offered through the Indian Government. Our local staff then build the capacity of communities to access these entitlements. This involves empowering local leaders to meaningfully participate and purposefully contribute toward official village decision-making forums, known locally as the Gram Sabha.
It has been exciting to see how our support has empowered the community of Gadaghat to work collectively and realise major accomplishments. Their success has led them to believe in themselves and their elected administrators, and the power of a common voice. Indeed, the community has now gone on to secure government support to supply electricity to their village — further evidence that Gram Nirman empowers communities and brings genuine sustained development.
Our work through Caritas India helps community members find confidence to participate in community meetings, and collectively present their requests for government support. Once communities have these skills, they can repeatedly come together to discuss further development opportunities and collectively advocate for assistance. The top photo captures a meeting where Chhattisgarh women met to discuss emerging opportunities under the Forest Rights Act, including the possibility of official recognition of land ownership. Gadaghat Village in Chhattisgarh is one of the areas Gram Nirman assists. The village’s recent experience demonstrates what can happen when people are helped to work together.
Bridge construction completed.
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SOUTH-EAST ASIA: CAMBODIA
PLANTING THE SEED OF HOPE WALKING TOGETHER IN HOPE “To bring hope to the people that we work with,” says Sister Maria Leonor Monteil (‘Sister Len’), “means walking with them and walking slowly, at their pace. It’s a lifelong process — a journey.” Most of her life, Sister Len has offered hope to people living in vulnerable circumstances. Born in the Philippines, she has worked for almost two decades in Cambodia as a social worker and community development worker. She helped to found the first School of Social Work at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and has taught Social Work at the university. As the director of the Seedling of Hope program in Cambodia, she works daily to offer a life with hope and dignity to people affected by HIV and AIDS. The program has been run by the Maryknoll Sisters since 1995 as a holistic response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. It supports affected children and adults through healthcare, education and vocational training, life skills, and spiritual and psychosocial support.
“The aim is to make a real difference in the lives of youth and families for whom the effects of HIV and AIDS have been compounded by the impacts of living with poverty and disadvantage. By focusing on their psychological health as much as their physical health, we’re able to ensure that they have everything they need to meet their daily needs, including support for their livelihoods.” – Sister Len
SEEDLING OF HOPE IMPACTS, JULY – NOVEMBER 2015 Youth Program Adult Program • 348 (178 girls) orphans and vulnerable children/youth affected by HIV and AIDS had access to education (basic education, skills training or higher education) and medical care and treatment. • 16 orphans and vulnerable youth siblings were enabled to live independently with their siblings in their own homes, with regular monitoring and follow-up from the program.
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• 287 (169 females) living with HIV and AIDS had regular home-based visits to supervise their medical care. • 118 people were trained in livelihood planning and supported with microcredit or grants. • 14 families received secure housing, and 13 houses were repaired.
Sister Len Monteil.
Seedling of Hope is subdivided into two distinct programs. The Maryknoll Seedling of Hope Youth Program is supported by Caritas Australia and funded by a private donor. It offers vulnerable young people access to education, healthcare and social services. The Seedling of Hope Adult Program focuses on both physical and psychological healing, and on reintegrating people living with HIV and AIDS into society and the economy, so they can have improved quality of life and sustainable livelihoods. Services include home-based care, skills training, income generation and livelihood development, as well as health referrals, counselling and secure housing. This program is supported by Caritas Australia and the Australian Government. “Through Seedling of Hope, people living with HIV and AIDS have a chance to live a new life with dignity and a chance to improve their economic wellbeing and become independent, agents of their own change. They develop skills, self-confidence and initiative,” Sister Len says.
Find more about Caritas Australia’s response to the global problem of HIV and AIDS. See www.caritas.org.au/HIV-AIDS
SOUTH-EAST ASIA: CAMBODIA
TRANSFORMING SERVICE CONFERENCE With her combined education and community development skills, Sister Len has been able to make a contribution to the field of service learning. This is an educational approach where students have both informal instruction about service in their own environment, and the opportunity to serve in communities. The focus of service learning is connecting the traditional classroom experience with the lessons about life that come through service. On 14 April, Sister Len was a keynote speaker at the Transforming Service Conference, held at the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane. This was the first international ecumenical service learning conference, enabling educators involved in leading or organising service learning activities in Australian schools to provide a national profile of activities, and work together to advance understanding. In her address, Sister Len said: “Service Learning? How about calling it Learning Service? It is an experience of service but it is mostly learning for the students. We have so much to learn from communities. We should be putting emphasis on the role of the students as learner rather than providers of service, and of the communities as the ‘educators’ rather than the receivers of service. “We’re not travelling in this world alone. We’re co-travellers, we’re co-creators.”
“God shows the poor ‘his first mercy’. This divine preference has consequences for the faith life of all Christians ... This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us.” – Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 2013, Ch.4, #198
EDUCATION RESOURCES ‘Just Visiting?’ Sister Len is a key figure in ‘Just Visiting?’, an online teaching resource with Catholic Social Teaching principles as a framework. ‘Just Visiting?’, featuring film clips where Sister Len is interviewed, offers a guide for teachers and students in Australian Catholic schools in planning immersion travel programs and reflecting on the experience on their return. This resource is useful for anyone planning to visit a development program. See www.caritas.org.au/justvisiting
Year of Mercy Caritas Australia has produced prayers, posters and resources on the Year of Mercy, suitable for secondary schools, parishes and general information. See www.caritas.org.au/mercy Mural painted by staff and community members for the Seedling of Hope program in Cambodia.
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PACIFIC: PAPUA NEW GUINEA
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN
I’m Schola Bogg, from Madang Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 2012 I agreed to be trained as a child protection officer because I saw the need for children to be protected from violence in the home by parents, guardians and caregivers. I am now the Child Protection Coordinator responsible for advocacy, education, and mobilisation in the Archdiocese of Madang. I work in a child protection advocacy program, run across 19 PNG dioceses, which has empowered me to stand up and tell the public that abusing children is wrong. This program is funded by the Australian Government, through the Church Partnerships Program. Caritas Australia supports us by offering intensive training and educational materials. The child protection program is about community ownership of our children’s safety. We train volunteers to be advocates for child protection in their communities, and supply them with teaching resources. In 2014 I ran training sessions for 73 volunteers. We explained the Papua New Guinean Child Protection Act 2009, and the key messages for communities, especially reminding parishioners that ‘abuse is now everyone’s responsibility’. One of our volunteers, Jacklyn Baiyo, said, “I started volunteering to help decrease abuses done to children and eventually try and stop all abuses.” It’s hard to inform communities of a new Act of Parliament when 85 per cent of our people live in remote villages, without electricity, effective communications or reliable transport. We had to plan foot patrols; the trained volunteers helped us map out the parishes, and we gave them teaching aids in our commonly spoken language, “Tok Pisin”. They practised facilitating sessions and then, in their parishes, they talked about the Act and educated people about types of abuse (physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and neglect).
Schola Bogg, front right, with Marie Mondu from Caritas Australia’s Port Moresby office, front second from left, and some of the parish’s child protection volunteers.
Increased protection for children in Papua New Guinea.
As people became aware that corporal punishment to discipline children is a criminal offence, many came forward, especially children who had been badly treated. Many families now understand the Act, and the kind of harm being exercised on children. We now have processes in place for reporting neglect and abuse, and for taking action. More reports are being made to the police. Families are no longer afraid to speak up, and are helping each other find ways to protect their children. In one parish, a volunteer started a children’s club as an early childhood education program, and I offer regular support. We are working together with the government child protection officer, the police, and the hospital, and we have a safe house. Every month we meet with other volunteers, and people from NGOs, churches, the hospital and police, to discuss how to keep working, and how to solve difficulties.
“I started volunteering two years ago because I wanted to protect and serve children in my community. The program helps me to identify what is wrong and what is right and share this information and knowledge with parents and their children. Now I educate families to look after their children. In my area people now know there is a new law that protects the rights of children and promotes the responsibilities of parents.” — Peter Jimmy, volunteer
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At Caritas Australia, we care about our supporters’ interests and opinions. Does our work resonate with you? Are we communicating effectively? We recently ran a survey, via mail and online, to find out. We had a great response — about 12.5% of those we contacted. Most were in our largest demographic group: Catholic Australians aged 55+.
FIFTY YEARS OF PROJECT COMPASSION Adelaide-based teacher David Smith recalls his first Project Compassion at age 5. His family were Catholic, members of Henley Beach parish in South Australia, where Project Compassion had some of its earliest beginnings. “I remember Mum and Dad coming home in about 1966 with the little box, and Mum saying, ‘That money we put in the box is not for you, David. It’s for those in our global family who are really struggling in their lives,’” Mr Smith said. This year marks 50 years of Project Compassion. Today Mr Smith teaches social justice and inspires his students at Xavier College in Adelaide to support Project Compassion. “The importance of helping others through Project Compassion is something that made a real impression on me from an early age,” Mr Smith said. “We were encouraged to make a sacrifice. Back then with one cent you could buy quite a lot – lolllies or cordial – and I remember putting in that cent rather than spending it on myself.”
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your response highlights your compassion, generosity and sense of social justice. Some key findings: • 96% of respondents believe that “justice, action and caring for the poor are essential to the life of the church”. • 79% of respondents “like hearing the personal stories of the people Caritas supports” and “respond strongly when [we] hear about emergencies, such as natural disasters, conflict or famine”. Our supporters were most interested in these areas of our work: • helping communities to prepare for natural disasters • water and sanitation • agriculture and food security • skills training for development • Indigenous rights and issues.
The learning theme of this year’s Project Compassion resonates with Mr Smith.
Thanks for sharing your insights. It’s exciting to see how engaged you are.
“It has been part of my own life and my family’s lives for 50 years. My wife Margie and I have been married for 32 years; we have 8 children, and every year through Lent it’s been part of our family.
We intend to use this information to improve our communications. Please continue sending feedback, letting us know how we can engage you best as we work together to end poverty and promote justice and life with dignity. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve tried to raise our children to be aware of others and their needs, just as I was. We realise that we receive ourselves when we give to those most marginalised around the world, as they are all our brothers and sisters. “My school and parish community is also incredibly generous. The students get behind Project Compassion to help raise the money for those who need it. By doing this we are being Jesus’ hands and hearts.”
Watch David’s story – 50 years of Project Compassion at bit.ly/1UEpwJ5 Learn more about 50 years of Project Compassion at www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion/50_years
can still support Project Compassion, > You helping us to exceed our total of
$11.57 million last year! To donate, visit www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion or phone 1800 024 413.
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After Tropical Cyclone Winston, which caused devastation in Fiji in February 2016, communities are working towards recovery. Photo credit: Richard Wainwright
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When you become a Caritas Neighbour and contribute to the Emergency Response Fund, your small monthly donation will allow us to respond rapidly to disasters around the world, like the recent Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji. Caritas, one of the largest humanitarian aid networks in the world, is committed to helping people in need before, during and after emergencies.
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