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No 132 autumn 2013

1800 024 413

FROM THE CEO This year, Project Compassion’s theme is, “Open doors into the future” from Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi, 35: “We work towards a brighter and more humane world so as to open doors into the future.” Caritas Australia staff and volunteers work every day to open doors all over the world. These doorways lead to better health, better education, better nutrition and safer environments to live in. Our aim is to create a just world, where everyone has equal rights and can live with dignity. In 2013, our six Lenten stories are about children, young people and the communities who support them. These people have walked through the door of hope and are beckoning others to journey with them; people like Ditosa. Ditosa, 12, lives in the village of Matuba, near Chokwe in Mozambique, Africa. Orphans’ Ditosa and her younger sister are cared for by their grandmother and aunt who are both HIV positive and too weak to work. Ditosa, and other children like her, attend the Caritas Australia supported Matuba Children’s Centre. Here, they learn life skills; receive help with homework; grow vegetables to eat and sell; learn about health, nutrition and hygiene; plus they are provided with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to help manage HIV/AIDS within their family. With your support, Matuba Children’s Centre opens doors for children and young people; they find hope for the future and a safe place where they can learn, laugh, play and sing. The funds raised from Project Compassion help us to open doors for people like Ditosa. We hope you embrace this year’s Project Compassion and from my family to yours, thank you for your support. In solidarity.

Thanks to you, Project Compassion 2012 and Mercy Family Health Services, Judy from Peru now has running water, a shower and toilet in her home. Her family is happier and healthier.

thank you We hope you had a joyful festive season and wish to thank you for purchasing a Caritas Australia Global Gift. In 2012, we raised over $670,000 which assists the world’s poor, excluded and marginalised. In late 2011, Caritas Australia began developing a strategic plan to guide our work from 2013 to 2018. Adopted by our National Council in December 2012, the new strategic plan will create a more agile agency, capable of responding to the needs of the poorest of the poor. Our new Mission, Inspiration and Vision statements are available

Jack de Groot, CEO

online; please visit our website at

NEW! for more. The Project Compassion website at features an interactive Virtual Village for you to explore Ditosa’s community; an online Lenten Calendar (also available as an iPhone app), plus a Photo Message Board for you to share how you are opening doors into the future.

For the latest news, events and updates head to: Twitter: Facebook: YouTube: Website: Phone: 1800 024 413 (toll free) 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday Cover: Ditosa, 12, lives in the village of Matuba, near Chokwe in Mozambique. Thanks to your support Caritas Australia funded the Matuba Children’s Centre. At the Centre, orphaned and vulnerable children, like Ditosa, find hope for the future and a safe place where they can grow. Photo: Erin Johnson All photos Caritas Australia unless otherwise stated.

Caritas Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of the land.




Project Compassion

Opening Doors Our 2013 stories are about children, young people and their communities. Caritas Australia’s worldwide partners are helping to open doors so more people have a brighter future. We hope you enjoy reading and sharing this year’s stories and thank you for supporting Caritas Australia. Your support means we can continue assisting those in need.

Week One: Mozambique With the support of Caritas Chokwe, children in Matuba, Mozambique, are receiving healthcare, food and education. We are ensuring that in the absence of family and in the presence of poverty, children like Ditosa have safety, security, love and the opportunity for a brighter future. Read Ditosa’s story on pages 4 and 5. Week Two: Bolivia Centro Creativo Artistico “educar es fiesta” (education is celebration) in Bolivia provides education and circus skills training for young people from marginalised communities, like Raymundo. Read Raymundo’s story on page 6. Week Three: Bangladesh The Safe Motherhood Project is reducing maternal and infant mortality in rural Bangladesh by training midwives in antenatal and postnatal treatment for women like Salma. Read Salma’s story on page 7. Week Four: Cambodia Lives for displaced children in Cambodia are a daily struggle. The Youth Empowerment Project is offering hope for people, like Vannak, through the provision of food, education and life skills training. Read Vannak’s story on page 8.

For many years, Bernard’s life was spiralling out of control but thanks to your support, Red Dust Healing helped him see the world in a whole new way. Bernard, Tahlee and their young daughter, Aila, live near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. See page 9 for his inspiring story. Photo: Rob Maccoll

Week Five: Gumbaynggirr, Australia Red Dust Healing is a healing program for Australian Indigenous men and women. It encourages participants, like Bernard, to examine their own personal hurt, allowing them to heal from within. Read Bernard’s story on page 9. Week Six: Papua New Guinea Mercy Works in Papua New Guinea supports displaced people and communities who are denied access to basic resources such as education, healthcare and social welfare. They work with young men and women, like Rollen, to promote justice and self-reliance. Read Rollen’s story on page 10. For more information, head to or call toll free 1800 024 413.

autumn 2013




Ditosa’s Story

In 2007, thanks to your support, Caritas Australia funded the building of the Matuba Children’s Centre. The Centre provides education, food and life skills for orphaned and vulnerable children, like Ditosa, 12. Ditosa lives in the village of Matuba, near Chokwe in Mozambique. Her parents died of AIDS-related illnesses, so Ditosa and her little sister, Fique, 7, are cared for by their grandmother and aunt who are both HIV positive and too weak to work. An extremely poor community, most of the houses in Matuba are built of mud bricks. There is no sewerage system, so the toilets are deep holes in the ground surrounded by reed screens. Until two years ago Ditosa’s family had to walk two kilometres to collect water from a water pump. Now with one installed in the village, there



are two taps which dispense clean water for the community. Without having to walk such a long way to collect water, Ditosa’s daily routine is now much simpler. On the days she attends school, she enjoys sharing what she has learnt with her grandmother. “I like my grandmother because she takes care of me; she helps me wash and gives me clothes.” Many children in this area have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS. In Mozambique, an estimated 11.5% of adults live with HIV and there are approximately 670,000 children aged

0-17 orphaned to AIDS (UN 2009). In Matuba, the proportion of people with HIV is even higher. Five years ago, when Caritas Chokwe offered free HIV tests in Matuba, over 50% of the people who came forward for testing were HIV positive. “Lots of local people go away looking for work. They contract HIV while they are away and bring it back to the community, and it spreads. Many are sick and many parents have died of AIDS, leaving children with no food or education,” said Mama Cacilda, Director of Caritas Chokwe. With a generation missing and many grandparents struggling to provide for grandchildren, in 2007 the need for a centre for orphaned and vulnerable children was identified. Caritas Chokwe coordinated the project and Caritas Australia supplied the funding for the Matuba Children’s Centre.


“I like coming to the Centre because it helps me … What I enjoy most is making earrings and necklaces.”

Atlantic Ocean

Indian Ocean

AFRICA Mozambique


8 0 0 mi 800 km


AT A GLANCE Mozambique, on the east coast of southern Africa, is one of the world’s poorest countries with four out of five people living on less than $2 per day. After nearly five centuries of Portuguese presence, Mozambique won independence in 1975 but the country’s development has been severely impeded by civil war and natural disasters. Population: 22,894,000 (estimated population 2009 UN Data) People living with HIV/AIDS: 11.5% Capital: Maputo Official language: Portuguese

Caritas funding 2011/2012: AU $377,428 With your support, Matuba Children’s Centre opens doors for children and young people. Here, they find hope for the future and a safe place where they can grow.

Here, children learn computer skills and crafts such as sewing and jewellery making, and receive extra help with their study. The Centre also provides children and family members with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to help manage HIV/AIDS. There is a chicken house, where they learn how to raise chickens for food and to sell, and a workshed where they learn carpentry and make wooden stools. The Centre also has a vegetable garden where the children help to grow vegetables to eat and to sell. In the kitchen, lunch is prepared every day by community volunteers; this is often the children’s only meal for the day. Hygiene is also an important focus at the Centre and to help with this, a toilet and shower block was installed. “I teach the children that they always must be clean,” said Elvira Mabundi, Centre Coordinator.

Ditosa’s favourite things to do at the Centre are carpentry and jewellery making, and she appreciates the extra help she receives with schoolwork. “I like coming to the Centre because it helps me. I come to study and I get something I don’t get at school. What I enjoy most is making earrings and necklaces,” she said. As Ditosa’s grandmother and aunt can’t work, their family depends on the kindness of distant family members. So the food, medicines and support they receive from the Centre are a lifeline.

spent on long-term development programs in Mozambique.

With your support, Matuba Children’s Centre opens doors for children and young people. Here, they find hope for the future and a safe place where they can grow. “The love that I have for my own children is the love that I have for these children too,” said Elvira. “I know the Centre will help them in life. We teach them that even if they don’t have parents, we are together with them … they are going to be the teachers of tomorrow.”


autumn 2013




Raymundo’s Story Raymundo, now 24, was only nine years old when he joined the circus. This was the beginning of a whole new life, away from the influence of gangs, drugs, alcohol and a potential life on the streets. positive lives; with dignity, increased One of six children, Raymundo was self-esteem, awareness of their rights born into a very poor family. At eight and more ability to express themselves. years of age, he was told to start earning “My wish for the kids is money for the family. that no one is poor. We as At first, Raymundo “My wish for the Bolivians and Australians cleaned mini buses, kids is that no have the opportunity to and delivered and one is poor. We work together to create new cleaned water tanks. as Bolivians and paths with Caritas Australia,” Later, he found work said Raymundo. washing cars for Australians have visitors to the cemetery the opportunity and carrying 25 litre to work together “At the age of nine, I had the buckets of water for opportunity to start learning to create new women cleaning the something that turned my life paths with around in a complete circle. gravestones. It was And what I’d like to do is a hard life and so Caritas Australia.” provide that same opportunity Raymundo and his to others,” said Raymundo friends sought escape by sniffing glue; aka Coco the Clown. quickly becoming addicted. The money Raymundo earned was given to his family but he was spending more and more time with his gang. When some gang members started to attend Centro Creativo Artistico “educar es fiesta” (education is celebration), a circus school for vulnerable children, Raymundo went along to be with them. At first he enjoyed the musical activities but when they moved on to street theatre, such as acrobatics and juggling, he began to see new possibilities for his life. Today, 250 young people are involved in Centro Creativo Artistico “educar es fiesta”, a Caritas Australia partner. Set up by Edson Quezada, the school is run by children and young people, and is a place where orphaned and vulnerable children can learn, not only reading and Edson Quezada always dreamed of setting up a circus run by children and young people. writing, but how to work together and He’s standing outside Centro Creativo Artistico’s Big Top. Photos: Richard Wainwright build a brighter future. Over the years 1,500 children aged 7 to 18 have taken part. In 2009, Caritas act Australia helped Centro Creativo Watch Raymundo’s story at Artistico “educar es fiesta” buy their own big top and in 2011 the circus performed and share it with family and friends. for 25,000 people. Edson says that hundreds of children are now living



week three: BANGLADESH, SOUTH ASIA When Salma went into labour, she felt at peace just knowing that rural midwife, Pronoti, was there. “I felt amazed that my baby was so healthy and that I had given birth without any problems.”

Salma’s Story When Salma fell pregnant, she felt frightened and unsure. Thanks to Pronoti, a rural midwife from the Safe Motherhood Project, Salma’s fears dissolved and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl called Maya. Salma, 18, lives in Fulbaria, in the heart of Bangladesh. When she and her husband, Masud, found out they were expecting their first child, Salma was experiencing abdominal pain, she couldn’t eat and was very sick; they were both concerned. Frightened by some of the villagers’ stories that the baby could be abnormal, Salma sought care from the village’s elderly traditional birth attendant, but she did not feel comforted. When she was six months pregnant, Salma heard about a rural midwife called Pronoti; she also heard that women who delivered under Pronoti’s care did


not end up with a prolapsed uterus, as was common in the area. Nor did their infants die within the first week of life from pneumonia or birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen during the delivery). Trained by Caritas Bangladesh’s Safe Motherhood Project (SMP) which is supported by Caritas Australia, Pronoti

“I would like to thank the people of Australia. We are poor, but we want women and babies to have good lives, like in your country,” said Pronoti. conducts comprehensive antenatal and postnatal care, carries out deliveries, and refers women to hospital if needed. During her first antenatal check-up, Salma was advised to drink more fluid and increase her food intake. “These words surprised me, as we were always told to eat less during pregnancy so we would not have a big baby. Her words reassured me,” said Salma who was also informed that she was anaemic and to include iron-rich foods in her diet. When Salma did go into labour, she felt at peace just knowing Pronoti was there. “I felt amazed that my baby was so healthy and that I had given birth without any problems.” Sister Julienne Hayes-Smith, SMP Coordinator, said that people tell her the number of maternal deaths has greatly decreased, while Pronoti enjoys making women’s lives better. “I would like to thank the people of Australia. We are poor, but we want women and babies to have good lives, like in your country,” said Pronoti.

Sister Julienne Hayes-Smith, Safe Motherhood Project Coordinator (second from left) said that wherever she travels in the SMP communities, people tell her the number of maternal deaths has greatly decreased. “The fact that no woman has died under the care of our midwives is proof that our project activities work.” Photos: Majed Chowdhury

autumn 2013




Vannak’s Story When Vannak left school at 15 to support his family he felt a sense of hopelessness and knew that he could end up in a youth gang. The Youth Empowerment Project, run by Caritas Australia’s partner, Youth for Peace, gave Vannak a whole new sense of direction. One of four children, Vannak, 17, his siblings and parents live in Andong Village, the largest slum in Cambodia and only 15 kilometres from Phnom Penh city. Home to approximately 8,000 people, Andong was established in 2006 when the inhabitants were driven from their homes in Sambok Chap, near the Bassac River. Their former homes have since been demolished to make way for development. When he was 15, Vannak left school to support his family. Around the same time, in the hope of achieving a better life, his parents had borrowed money. So every week he would give most of his daily earnings 12,000 Riels ($3) to them.

Also a team leader of six silk screen printers, Vannak feels good knowing he is helping others. In addition, for every silk screen order, he can earn up to 40,000 Riels ($10). Photos: Philong Sovan



Although he was helping his family, Vannak felt a sense of hopelessness and knew that he could end up drinking alcohol and gambling in a youth gang. “Adults thought I was useless ... However they sometimes praised me as a good boy because I was helping my parents pay off their debt,” he said. In Cambodia, 26% of the population is aged between 15 and 25 years old. Youth, in places like Andong, are in a difficult position to change both their situation and their society. Viewed as second class citizens by many in Cambodia, Andong youth often experience discrimination. In response, the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) was designed to provide life skills and vocational training such as handicrafts, gardening and small business management. Their goal is to increase youth employment, as well as build a sense of responsibility and solidarity in youth. Vannak heard about the project, so he decided to give it a go. As his parents were dependent on his extra income, initially they were apprehensive. However, when Vannak told them he could earn an income through skills learnt at YEP, they understood the importance. This was a chance for the family to be free from poverty. At first, Vannak wasn’t focused on learning; he was so hungry that what he most looked forward to was eating the food provided. However it didn’t

“The goal of the project is very clear and helpful, it is like our Godmother.” Vannak is the vegetable garden leader. The garden grows produce for the organisation and members’ families, and every dollar Vannak earns pays for his study (he has since returned to school) and supports his family.

take long for his hunger to grow for something else – learning; in particular silk screen printing and gardening. “The goal of the project is very clear and helpful, it is like our Godmother. It has shaped our thinking and provided us with skills to improve our living conditions,” said Vannak.

LEARN Project Compassion supports long-term partnerships for justice and transformation around the world. See projectcompassion for more.


Bernard’s Story For many years, Bernard’s life was spiralling out of control. Thanks to your support, Red Dust Healing helped him see the world in a whole new way. Bernard grew up in Gumbaynggirr (Nambucca Heads), on the north coast of New South Wales. The youngest of 13 children, his father left when he was only one and Bernard always felt it was his responsibility to keep everyone together. From a young age, Bernard had a strong bond with his mum whom he loved deeply. However when his cousins called out for their dad on family camping trips, Bernard realised how important a father is to a household, and as he got older, he thought more about his dad. For many years, Bernard bottled up his feelings. He managed to do very well at school and in 1996 he became the second ever Aboriginal school captain at Nambucca Heads High School. However two years later, his beloved mum passed away. “That really hit me hard. I was so close to her. We would sit down and talk about anything, mostly on our fishing trips. I would always tell Mum I loved her; when she cried, I cried – and then she was gone.”

A proud Gumbaynggirr man, Bernard understands how important his role within family life is and is determined to always be there for his daughter, Aila.

Bernard soon lost The program provided “Thanks to direction in his life, turning a safe space to talk and Tom and to drugs and alcohol, and Bernard said it changed Caritas at 25, he was admitted to everything: “Now I know Australia, hospital where his father how to express how I feel. I because Red know that it’s good to talk came to visit. Although his father was now back in his Dust Healing about things, to get it out life, Bernard still desperately has taught and not bottle it up inside.” grieved the loss of his Recently becoming me about beloved mum. a father, Bernard is being a man A close friend told him determined to always be and being a about Tom Powell’s Red there for his daughter; he father.” Dust Healing – a program understands how important for Indigenous men and his role within family life is. women which encourages participants “Thanks to Tom and Caritas Australia, to examine their own personal hurt because Red Dust Healing has taught and allows them to heal from within; me about being a man and being a without drugs or alcohol. father,” said Bernard. Red Dust Healing’s philosophy is: “if we do not know who we are and where we FUNDRAISE come from, then how Hold a Walk do we know where we are going?” As One film It is targeted at the screening and ask heart, not the head each participant and focuses on a to donate a gold spiritual understanding coin to Project of self, identity, Compassion. See love, belonging, family, security, hurt, heartache, good times au/walkasone and laughter.

for details.

Bernard and Tahlee are looking towards the future with their beautiful daughter with renewed hope and spirit. Photos: Rob Maccoll

autumn 2013




Rollen’s Story Rollen, 24, lives in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Village life is often demanding and for many years, she desperately wanted to study. At age 17 – she was finally able to. Since then, thanks to you and Mercy Works, Rollen believes that anything is possible. Province, Rollen always felt “useless and MERCY WORKS GOROKA/Mt Hagen in hopeless”. Every day, she would look PNG is a program of the Sisters of Mercy after the goats, care for the vegetable and is supported by Caritas Australia garden and do the housework, but she and Mercy Works (Australia). It offers desperately wanted more. One day, support to all who are vulnerable, with while looking at her blistered hands, a special focus on young people aged Rollen, then 17, decided she was going 15 to 25. Sister Maryanne Kolkia RSM, to start school. Director of Mercy Works, met The next day she did, Rollen in 2008. “Thank you to and after completing “Mercy Works is a place for the Australian Years 7 and 8, she then people to come and share people for completed Year 9. The their life journey in different following year, on World circumstances, and if one supporting Environment Day, she person can see the goodness Caritas volunteered to plant trees in herself or himself why not Australia and for Mercy Works. This others?” asks Sister Maryanne. Mercy Works.” was Rollen’s first contact “I encourage young women with the organisation and and men to see themselves as the following day she sat down with they are – special and unique.” the Sisters. “We all have the freedom and power Together, they spoke about problems within ourselves to make a difference in affecting PNG youth such as poverty, our lives. And while Rollen’s life journey unemployment, HIV/AIDS, addiction, has been filled with challenges, she now high child and maternal mortality rates, believes in herself. All she needed was law and order issues, and low rates of someone to empower her so she could children accessing education. They also make good decisions.” discussed Rollen’s life and what she Growing up in Kerenga, a small village wanted for the future. in the Bena district, Eastern Highlands

Rollen now works in a hotel in Port Moresby and is thankful for your support. She enjoys spending time with her family; and is pictured making a string bag with her grandmother.

They taught her microfinance, so her family could earn an income and assisted her with further schooling and studies. After completing work experience, Rollen now 24, works in a hotel in Port Moresby. “With a humble heart I would like to acknowledge Mercy Works for their support, encouragement and advice. Thank you to the Australian people for supporting Caritas Australia and Mercy Works,” said Rollen.

Mercy Works identified opportunities for Rollen to learn budget skills so her family could earn an income. This training provided the confidence to sell their home-grown pineapples at the local market. Her mother has since expanded the vegetable garden and cares for poultry too – providing income and food for her family. Photos: Father Philip Gibbs

ACT Watch Rollen’s story at projectcompassion and share it with your school, parish or local community.



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Caritasnews magazine, Autumn 2013  

In this issue of Caritas News, we introduce the stories of Project Compassion 2013.

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