Local community responds generously to Project Compassion 2017

Caritas Australia, the international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church in Australia, has just run its annual fundraising appeal, Project Compassion, in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The Lenten fundraising appeal seeks to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity all over the world and this year took as its theme, “Love your Neighbour.” Already, the diocese has contributed over $75,000 to Project Compassion.

Project Compassion was launched locally on 28 February by Bishop Bill Wright, who commissioned parish and school community members to take up Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion with love, compassion and generosity.

Patricia Banister, Team Member with Caritas Australia for Maitland-Newcastle, noted the powerful community response this year’s campaign generated, and the enthusiasm and passion shown by students, teachers and parishioners.

“The Caritas Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle thanks the parish and school communities for their generous support to Caritas Australia,” Patricia said.

Patricia also explained that investing in the existing skills and assets of communities, rather than emphasising what they might lack, is what makes Caritas Australia’s approach to development unique.

“The development programs of Caritas Australia always promote and build on the existing skills and resources of people to help them improve access to food, clean water, education, healthcare and income, regardless of their religious, political or cultural beliefs,” Patricia said.

For Aloma in the Philippines, Caritas Australia has been an empowering force, enabling her to take a leadership role in environmental conservation − an initiative which is crucial to her entire community.

In 2009, when a major typhoon raged, Aloma and her small children cowered while their home fell to shreds around them.

“My kids were traumatised with that experience, as well as me. We were lucky to survive,” Aloma said.

But through training from Caritas Australia’s partners, Aloma has prepared her community for new high risk scenarios. She’s encouraging villagers to practise disaster risk management and to value the natural environment.

“The greatest change in my life was to realise that the environment is very important, because we grow up cutting down all the trees around us, including the mangroves…and use [them] for firewood,” Aloma said.

“Now, instead, we are planting the mangroves for our own protection. It is important to protect the environment. This will protect us, because we are in a coastal area, from a tsunami or eventual flooding.”

It’s not too late to help people like Aloma who are facing challenges all over the world. Caritas Australia is working with marginalised and disadvantaged people in 29 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific and with Australia’s First Peoples.

Learn more about Caritas Australia and make a donation.

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Daniel Nour

Daniel Nour is Content Specialist, Caritas Australia.

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