Caritas launches Project Compassion Lenten Appeal

Through this year’s theme, ‘Love your neighbour’, Caritas Australia demonstrates how this approach can transform lives.
Dinia having lunch with her family at home. Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia.

In support of the world’s poor, including millions in our immediate region, thousands of parishes, schools and community leaders across Australia are putting their compassion into action, during Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion Lenten Appeal.

Image supplied by Caritas Australia.

The World Bank estimates that 90 million people live in extreme poverty in Australia’s neighbouring region. Another 300 million are vulnerable to falling back into poverty due to natural disasters, climate change, disease and economic shocks.

Project Compassion funds humanitarian and long-term development programs in more than 29 countries across Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Latin America and First Australian communities. Starting on Ash Wednesday, the appeal runs over the six weeks of Lent. Last year, Project Compassion raised $11.1 million.

Through this year’s theme, ‘Love your neighbour’, Caritas Australia demonstrates how this approach can transform lives.

Paul O’Callaghan is the CEO of Caritas Australia. “Caritas Australia has worked with partner agencies overseas and in First Australian communities to assist those communities lift themselves out of poverty,” he said. “We have transformed millions of lives in the process, including providing assistance to more 2 million people directly last year through our emergency and development programs.”

Focused on the ‘Love your neighbour’ theme, Caritas Australia will feature human stories from the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Australia, Vietnam and Fiji.

“I encourage you to support Project Compassion because your donations make a big difference to our capacity to help impoverished communities become stronger and more resilient. This can only lead to a better future for our world,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Dinia from the Philippines

Dinia’s story is a story of healing, through her own skill and perseverance, and through support from a program funded by Caritas Australia. Living in the Philippines, she struggled daily with poverty in a country with many vulnerable communities. People living in rural and coastal areas have very little access to basic services. They face extreme weather events, environmental degradation and the effects of internal conflict and have little hope of a sustainable income. For Dinia, the untimely death of her husband meant an end to his small income and a greater struggle to feed and educate her children.

She struggled alone, facing a future without hope, until her community encouraged her to participate in the Socio Pastoral Action Center Foundation Inc (SPACFI) program supported by Caritas Australia. SPACFI’s Integrated Community Development Program helped Dinia develop diverse ways to gain a sustainable livelihood, continue to send her children to school and contribute to her community. The program foregrounds the need to work together for the common good, awakening Dinia’s innate generosity and leadership qualities. She was able to learn about organic farming, managing livestock, and starting a small business.

Now she has an integral role in her community, a sustainable livelihood, and a brighter future for her children. “My life is much better now. It is much easier,” she said.

During Lent, Australians are invited to support Project Compassion by making a donation, or by hosting fundraising events in their local parish or school. Supporters can also to share their stories on social media at #ProjectCompassion.

To donate to Project Compassion or for fundraising ideas tel 1800 024 413 or click here.

Source: Caritas Australia.

Published on 10 March 2017.

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