Project Compassion Sunday, 11th February 2018
Today is Project Compassion Sunday, marking the beginning of Caritas Australia’s annual Lenten appeal. The Gospel reading this week, in the story of Jesus’ encounter with the man with leprosy, reminds us to open our hearts to those on the margins of society.
This year through Project Compassion, we celebrate A Just Future for all in conjunction with the Year of Youth. No one epitomises the future like the young, who offer us hope for a better tomorrow.
Caritas Australia has the privilege of working with some of our most marginalised young people in communities here and around the world. And there’s no better time than Lent for expressing our solidarity with young people.
The stories we are sharing during the six weeks of Lent demonstrate how Caritas Australia empowers young people to become channels of love and positive change for their communities.
Last year, with your help, Project Compassion raised over $11 million. This amount is testament to your enormous generosity and compassion. Again this year, you can make a difference and contribute to A Just Future for our most vulnerable youth and their communities. You can make your donation in the collection box or use the donation envelopes on your seat.
The story in today’s Gospel is striking witness to the compassion of Jesus. Jesus was moved by deep compassion for the suffering of the man with leprosy, reaching out his hand to heal him.
Project Compassion offers us a way to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. It is our opportunity to look with the heart and to respond with compassion in a practical way for young people here and around the world.
Thank you for supporting Caritas Australia this Lenten season and for keeping Project Compassion close to your hearts.
1st Sunday of Lent
Our Project Compassion story this week tells us of Janaki. Her story suggests that she too has experienced a time of wilderness in her life. She grew up in a world of poverty and disadvantage in Nepal and was forced to marry at an early age.
Janaki made several choices that put her on the path to a better future. She joined a youth club, took part in training and was encouraged to follow her dream of having her own sewing business. She took a loan from the youth club to purchase her first sewing machine. Two years on, Janaki has 11 sewing machines and is running her own business, as well as teaching others how to sew. She is considered a role model in the community.
The Project Compassion theme for 2018 is 'A Just Future'. For Janaki and others in her community, a just future has started with empowerment.
Her story reminds us of the words of Pope Francis who said, ‘let us not be satisfied with a mediocre life. Be amazed by what is true and beautiful, what is God.'
Project Compassion enables you to make a difference to young people around the world and share Janaki’s transformation.
2nd Sunday of Lent
Rattanak's story featured this week in Project Compassion gives us a glimpse into a story of courage and transformation. Rattanak is twenty-nine and a barber in the village of Poh Krom in south-eastern Cambodia. Contracting a fever and becoming ill with polio as a child, Rattanak has some difficulty walking and is profoundly deaf. Emerging from an isolated world at home in his early twenties, he gained skills at the Caritas supported Deaf Development Program. He can now use sign language to communicate and is running a successful business, supporting himself, his wife and their baby.
The program has been one of transformation for Rattanak. He can now understand and see the world in a whole new way. For Rattanak and other young people in his community, ‘a just future’ started with community.
Through listening to the scriptures today and to Rattanak's story of loving transformation, this has the power to move us. We can be partners in working for a just future for everyone.
3rd Sunday of Lent
Our Project Compassion story this week takes us to Jordan to meet 12 year old Bayan who fled Syria with her family, making the perilous journey to Jordan.
For Bayan, the trauma of the conflict and the disruption of her childhood, the Caritas Education Program in Jordan has been a source of encouragement and freedom. With this support Bayan looks with hope towards a future where she can finish her education and achieve her dreams.
The Project Compassion theme for 2018 is 'A Just Future'. For Bayan and many other children around the world, a just future starts with a safe place to learn.
4th Sunday of Lent
As the Church continuously revisits the long history of God’s relationship with God’s people, Caritas Australia takes this opportunity to revisit and explore the impact of its relationships. We first heard about Evangeline, a young First Australian woman a couple of years ago. She lives in the remote community of Beswick, also known as Wugularr, in the Northern Territory.
Evangeline’s work is, of itself, life-giving for her and her community. She helps to preserve and bring into the lighther own precious gifts and talents and the art and culture of her people. As a Senior Artsworker for Djilpin Arts, a non-profit Aboriginal organisation, her career has flourished along with the success of the enterprise. She has become an inspirational leader for youth, while the Djilpin Arts Centre has become an example of excellence in Indigenous tourism and is now a major employer for young people in the community.
5th Sunday of Lent
The weekly Project Compassion Lenten story from Caritas Australia this week revisits the story of Ditosa in Mozambique from 2013. Ditosa faced a challenging future with food scarcity, little education and few job prospects. Cared for by her grandmother and aunt, after her parents died of AIDS-related illnesses, the family also lost their house in severe floods.
With your contributions to Project Compassion, Caritas Australia has supported Ditosa’s family to build a new house and helped them to afford to send her to school. Caritas has also been supporting the Matuba Children’s Centre which provides vulnerable children, like Ditosa, with study help, food and skills training.
Five years on, Ditosa has finished school and is looking forward to a bright and just future - and Matuba Children’s Centre is now sustainable without Caritas Australia’s financial support.
6th Sunday of Lent
Through the liturgies of Holy Week, we participate in the remembrance of Jesus’ final days. We are mindful too of the many women, men and children around the world who are most vulnerable to extreme poverty and injustice. These are, in our time, the face of the suffering Christ.
One such face is Psyche Mae who when featured in Project Compassion in 2008, was a teenager living with her family in a squatter settlement on the edge of a giant rubbish dump in the Philippines. Like thousands of others desperate to make ends meet, her family was forced to pick through the rubbish and sell what they could to survive.
Fast forward to 2018 where Psyche Mae, her parents and siblings have managed to lift themselves out of poverty to a new life where they have built a better future. Psyche Mae herself is now a qualified social worker for the Philippines Government, helping informal settlers, particularly women. She is a hard worker, working full-time and studying after work at university, where she plans to continue to study for a Master's degree.
This story illustrates that renewal and the opportunity for new life can be the start of a just future, where people can become the architects of change in their lives.