A just future starts with you

Love helps us to change lives. That’s the message of Caritas Australia which, this Lent, takes as its theme: ‘A Just Future starts with You.’

Project Compassion 2018 will be launched in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle on Shrove Tuesday 13 February by Bishop Bill Wright at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Hamilton. Members of parish and school communities are warmly invited to participate.

After the liturgy, all are encouraged to immerse themselves in the daily lives of the people that Caritas Australia supports through interactive virtual reality goggles. Delicious pancakes and ice cream will also be on offer in the Southern Cross Hall.

The stories of six young people will show Caritas Australia supports individuals to improve their own lives, those of their families and even entire societies, when we walk alongside the vulnerable in support and empowerment programs.

One of the stories of a life changed is that of Janaki, a young entrepreneur who has turned her life around by participating in a youth club formed by Caritas Australia partners, Caritas Nepal and the Ekata Foundation.

In the Surkhet district of Midwestern Nepal, where Janaki grew up, she lived with poverty and disadvantage.

Forced into marriage at the age of 12, her already vulnerable position deteriorated further following the death of her husband only two years after they wed.

“I was so frustrated that I thought that my life was a waste. Slowly I realised that I need to move on and have some skills,” says Janaki.

In 2015, after joining the Caritas supported youth club, part of a Children and Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP), Janaki participated in training to learn the craft of sewing better and also received a loan from the youth club to purchase her own sewing machine.

“Everybody used to doubt my skills. But I stand on my determination and stand firm to learn tailoring skills,” says Janaki.

Nine years on, Janaki has 11 sewing machines and is running her own small business, teaching others the craft. She is now considered a community role model.

“My confidence level has raised,” says Janaki.

“I appreciate all those respected peoples of Australia who are supporting this wise cause. Through their help, women who experience domestic violence and who are financially vulnerable are getting new hope in their life.

“I thank you from bottom of my heart.”

“Because of the Caritas supported Deaf Development Program (DDP,) I’ve had the opportunity to develop and to learn and increase my knowledge, now I’m much more confident in everything that I do,” Rattanak says.

Father George Sigamony, Caritas Australia’s Manager of Community Engagement, has worked in Nepal with young women like Janaki and will visit the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle this March. He will speak on Caritas Australia’s work, which is changing lives and fostering social justice.

As National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka from 2009 to 2016, Father George worked tirelessly with communities as the nation continued its recovery efforts from the devastating 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, and 30 years of civil war where more than a hundred thousand people lost their lives.

Fr. George also worked with Caritas Asia on Migration and Human Trafficking. Nepal is one of the countries where Human trafficking is very high within the South Asian region. He was coordinating this program in Collaboration with Caritas Internationalis.

Parishes will have Project Compassion boxes and share packs available from Sunday 11 February, 2018. Please visit www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion.

Project Compassion 2018 will be launched on Shrove Tuesday (13 February) at 10:30am, by Bishop Bill Wright at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton. All are welcome.

If you would like further information about Project Compassion 2018, please contact Patricia Banister, Caritas Diocesan Team member, 0409 300 192 or Email pabanister7@gmail.com.

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Daniel Nour Image
Daniel Nour

Daniel Nour is Content Specialist, Caritas Australia.

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