50 Years of Putting Compassion into Action

2016 marks 50 years of Project Compassion, Caritas Australia’s annual Lenten fundraising and awareness raising campaign and one of Australia’s largest humanitarian appeals.

Each year Project Compassion, which runs during the six weeks of Lent, brings together thousands of supporters across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in solidarity with the world’s poor to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.

The members of the Diocesan Caritas Australia Team, Louise Roach, Teresa Brierley and Patricia Banister, have all expressed their gratitude to the parish and school communities for their generous contributions to the work of Caritas Australia through Project Compassion, emergency appeals and regular contributions. Project Compassion last year raised a record $11.57 million, including $258,000 from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

Money raised goes towards Caritas Australia’s humanitarian and long-term development programs in more than 40 countries across Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Latin America and with First Australian communities.

This year Bishop Bill Wright will officially launch Project Compassion at a liturgy at 10.30am on Shrove Tuesday, 9 February, at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. There will be representatives from the Catholic schools across the diocese as well as parishioners joining in this special Jubilee celebration. All are welcome!

“Lent is the time of year when we put our faith into action through prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” explains Patricia, a member of the Caritas Team. “The changes I’ve seen in communities with whom we work in partnership through the generosity of supporters have also shaped and inspired me.

“Project Compassion has transformed millions of lives and every year since 1965 we have demonstrated our faith, our compassion and our generosity towards the most vulnerable members of our global family.

“This year I encourage you to be a part of Project Compassion, as every individual, school, parish or community makes an enormous difference.”

Pope Francis has said, “Education is an act of hope.” The theme for this year’s Project Compassion, “Learning more, creating change,” celebrates the power of learning, and the many ways in which Caritas Australia is working with local partners around the world to provide vital learning and renewed hope to those most marginalised.

One of the stories highlighted during the appeal comes from Malawi, one of the world’s least-developed countries.

It’s the story of Doney, a mother from Malawi who, thanks to involvement in Caritas programs which map an individual and community’s assets, education and training, now has hope for the future.

Malawi has a largely rural population and its economy is based heavily on agriculture. Communities face poverty and isolation and food shortages many times during the year.

Doney had only completed primary school, but her passion for education was recognised as one of her strengths.

Today education has brought Doney new skills and new stature and influence in her community.  She’s now teaching literacy and numeracy to adults in her village.

“In the past the people I’ve been teaching didn’t know how to read and write,” Doney says. “They didn’t even know the direction of the bus as they didn’t know how to read the signpost. Now many are able to read and write.”

Doney is determined that her five children will complete secondary school. Although just 7 per cent of 15-24 year-olds in Malawi do so, she has strong hopes.

“I encourage my children to attain education so that they can be independent in the future,” she says. “This would make me proud.”

To donate to Project Compassion, or for fundraising ideas, please visit Project Compassion or P 1800 024 413. 

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Nicole Clements

Nicole Clements is Media Advisor, Caritas Australia

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