For each of the six weeks of Lent, the Diocese of Parramatta is sharing one of Caritas Australia’s feature stories of lives changed through support and empowerment programs.
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT – 18 March, 2018
In Mozambique, a country where over 10% of adults live with HIV, Caritas Australia is working with local communities to create sustainable education and work opportunities.
Ditosa lives in Matuba, near Chokwe in southern Mozambique, where many children have lost one or both parents to an AIDS-related illness
Ditosa started attending the Matuba Children’s Centre (which Caritas set up in 2007) after school each day. The Centre provides vulnerable children, like Ditosa, with lunch every day, study help, and training in computer skills, jewellery-making, sewing, raising chickens and growing vegetables.
This essential support has enabled Ditosa to embark on a positive journey of education and she has since graduated from school and hopes to go to university.
“I love to learn and want to be a police woman,” Ditosa says.
“Education is important in my life but I know that university is expensive, so if I can’t go to the police academy I want to learn commercial science so that I can work in a bank.”
But Ditosa has faced many challenges. In 2013, for example, floods devastated her house and community.
Incredibly, she stayed in the top of a tree for five days with a neighbour’s family, with no food or drink, until the water subsided and she could find her family.
In recent years, the Matuba Children’s Centre, of which Ditosa was a member, has expanded its activities to include a pig project, teaching the children to sew uniforms and build carpentry benches for sale. It has been so successful at generating its own income that it only needs to access Caritas funds in an emergency such as the distribution of maize, beans and sweet potato seeds during droughts.
“The joy of Matuba Children’s Centre is that it is now sustainable without Caritas Australia’s financial support,” says Elvira, the Centre’s Director.
“I never thought the day would come. Now we are thriving, with enough food from the seeds that were given to us and the rains this year have been good. But we don’t want to be forgotten. We are fighting to keep Matuba operating for the sake of the children who are so poor,” Elvira says.
As well as supporting her to finish her education, in 2014, Caritas Australia and Caritas Regional Chokwe (CRC) helped Ditosa’s family to build a new two-room house and for this support she is very grateful.
“Without the support of the people from Australia and Caritas I would not have been given this opportunity to continue my schooling.”
“I am also so happy to have a house. There were previously four of us living in one room, after our home got washed away with the floods,” Ditosa says.
“Now I share a room with my grandmother and am more comfortable. This is all because of the generosity of the people of Australia…”
Your support through Project Compassion is helping young women like Ditosa to grow up with confidence and hope, providing them with a just future.
This year Caritas Australia, the International Aid and Development Agency of the Catholic Church in Australia, highlights the way that the pursuit of ‘Just Future’ is changing lives. Youth are the future leaders of their societies, and are the focus of this liturgical, ‘Year of Youth’, in Australia. During Lent, Australians are invited to support Project Compassion by making a donation, or by hosting fundraising events in their local school, parish, community or neighbourhood. Supporters can also to share their stories on social media at #ProjectCompassion. To donate to Project Compassion or for fundraising ideas visit www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion or phone 1800 024 413.