Catholic Schools share in a close partnership with Caritas Australia to end poverty, uphold dignity, and promote justice around the world. In 2015, a record 86% of Australian Catholic schools participated in Project Compassion, with school students and their families contributing almost $3 million to our annual Lenten appeal.
This year marks fifty years of Project Compassion. Every year since 1965, our Caritas family demonstrates their extraordinary commitment of faith, love, generosity and compassion by supporting our Lenten appeal. With the support of schools, students and parents around the country, Project Compassion has grown from a modest act of alms giving to be one of the largest fundraising appeal of its kind in the country.
Fifty years ago, our first Lenten appeal raised the equivalent of $90,000. Last year, Project Compassion contributed more than $11.5 million towards Caritas Australia’s humanitarian and long-term development programs in more than 35 countries, and with First Australian Communities.
Through Project Compassion we put our faith in action. With their creativity, energy and resolute commitment to just leadership, the next generation of Australian Catholic school students will send Project Compassion soaring to new heights!
This year, the theme for Project Compassion is: ‘learning more, creating change’.
This year, we champion the many ways Caritas Australia works with local partners around the world to ensure all children, women and men can harness the power of education, training and shared knowledge.
As Pope Francis says: “Education is an act of hope.” This year, Project Compassion reminds us how education, knowledge and skills can empower the world’s most vulnerable communities to realise their hopes for peace, equality, dignity and justice.
Doney’s Story – “now I have a vision.”
Doney is a quiet and humble woman, but thanks to an innovative program supported by Caritas Australia, she’s creating big changes in her life, and in her village.
Doney beams when she talks about how much her life has changed in the past five years. “My life has been transformed,” she smiles. “I have a vision.”
Located in East Africa, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over half the population is living below the poverty line, with more than 80% of people living in rural communities, and relying on farming small plots of land to produce adequate food to live on.
In Doney’s remote village in the Blantyre region, her family has often gone months without enough food. Yet, when Caritas Australia and the local Caritas began a program in Doney’s village, they didn’t simply see poverty and isolation, they saw strength and great potential.
Caritas worked with Doney’s community to identify and build upon their strengths. Empowering the community to make the most of their land, our local partners trained families in new farming techniques, so they can produce more plentiful and reliable crops. Doney says, the problem of malnutrition in her household is an ‘old song’.
As the community looked at their strengths, Doney’s skills and passion for education were quickly recognised. “I was chosen by the community, and after that, CADECOM took me for training in Adult Literacy as a Facilitator,” she says. Doney’s training gave her the skills to teach literacy and numeracy to adults in the village.
Today, many more people are able to read and write and they know how to count money. Knowing how to count, tally and work with money is important because Caritas has introduced a Village Savings and Loan group as part of the program.
This group allows people to borrow money to invest in their own small businesses. Doney’s husband Nedson is a tailor. With funds from the Village Savings and Loans program, the family can buy materials for him to sew. And with the profits they make from his business, the family can afford to send their children to school.
Today, Doney is determined that her five children will also have the chance to learn, to grow and to create the bright future they deserve. Even though just 7% of 15-24 year olds in Malawi complete secondary education, Doney is resolute: “I encourage my children to attain education so that they can be independent in the future,” she says. “This would make me proud!”
Doney is proud of her new skills and of the fresh hope that her community has gained. With the support of Caritas Australia and our local partner, Doney’s community has been able to harness and grow their strengths. Today, they are building new livelihoods, improving health and growing literacy to create paths towards a better future.
Please donate to Project Compassion 2017 by calling 1800 024 413 or visiting www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion.