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HOPE Spots!

As the world hurts, through ALWS you bring healing and hope. HOPE Spots show you what happens when your love comes to life!

HOPE Spot #21: Friday 26th May 2023

the power of one

This week I had a couple of meetings in town.

Between meetings, I had a moment to walk through a beautiful autumn-leaved park.

I found this plaque on a seat …


I have no idea who Ralph and Jennifer were …

… but I was really struck by the last line:

Too dearly loved to be forgotten


That message is at the heart of all you do for people through ALWS.

These days, media attention lasts a moment.


The devastating Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar two weeks ago: forgotten.

The crisis in Sudan forcing millions of people to flee: forgotten.


But not by you.

The compassion and generosity of people like you means ALWS has been able to commit $100,000 of emergency aid to help people hurt by those disasters.

Food. Shelter. Hygiene Kits.

Welcome. Care. Kindness.


You can see new updates on your life-transforming help here:


Which brings me back to my meetings in town this week.

I’d been invited to share at Comunet (a hi-tech digital company in Adelaide) about ALWS work in Somalia.

(I was more nervous than normal, because technology and I get on about as well as Collingwood and Carlton supporters do!)

The company was having a Porridge Party to raise money to help children in Somalia go to school, and be protected from famine, using our ALWS 18:1 Grant.

As you can see below, the company really got hold of the porridge idea and offered all kinds of varieties (though I was far too nervous to try any):

What made me smile was that the company is mostly young people, and they had to look up a recipe on the internet to know how to make the porridge!

Yet, look at what they achieved!



Dozens of children in Somalia can now go to school and have a cup of fortified porridge at school each day

What’s most amazing though is this all started with one person in the company.

Michelle organised a Team for our Barossa Valley ALWS Walk My Way a couple years back.

That led to this Porridge Party

… and the chance for me to share with staff the extraordinary things ‘ordinary’ people can do for others through ALWS.


That is the power of one.

That power starts with people like you who say about people in Somalia, Sudan and Myanmar:


Too dearly loved to be forgotten


Thank you – you are a blessing ALWayS!


Don’t forget those who are suffering,

but imagine you are there with them.

Hebrews 13:3b



HOPE Spot #20: Tuesday 23rd May 2023

Your name in the newspaper…


I wrote to the Weekend Australian about you yesterday.


On the weekend, the newspaper had a big story about the efforts of our Government and Defence Forces evacuating Australian-connected families from Sudan.

While I didn’t mention you by name in my letter, and I doubt it will be published …

… I wanted to highlight how people like you are also heroes in crises like Sudan.


(You can see my Letter to Editor below.)


Your kindness and generosity through ALWS are the reason families like this one …

Photo: Colin Delfosse

… can be welcomed with food and water, and love and care.

Treated not as refugees, but as guests.


When you hear Ashta’s story, you see what a blessing such a welcome would be. She’s 32, and fled her home in Darfur with her husband and six children:

 “At home I was growing onions. When a member of our community was killed, we decided to leave town …

We took our children and left. The older ones walked, the smaller ones were on the back of our donkey, and the baby was on my back.

 I’m relieved now, but I still think about what happened. I haven’t received any help yet, but I’m still happy.”


When I saw the photo of Ashti and her children on the donkey, I was reminded of Jesus’ story of The Good Samaritan:


… who, when he saw a man beaten and bleeding on the side of a dangerous road

… did not cross to the other side to stay safe

… but came close, kneeling down to patch up the wounds

… then loaded the injured man onto a donkey to carry him to proper care.


This is what you are doing now for families fleeing Sudan.


These are families it seems the world has forgotten …

… yet your compassion means ALWS can commit $100,000 to the relief effort of the LWF teams caring for Sudanese families fleeing to the Ethiopia and South Sudan borders.


It’s a big challenge, as you can see here on the border with Chad …


Photo: Colin Delfosse

… yet the power of love that comes to life is bigger. You’ll see this as you read Update 3 of your ALWS action.


If this touches your heart, you’re welcome to donate here.

I doubt your ALWS action will make a Letter to the Editor in a newspaper, let alone a headline to give you public glory.


So, let me thank you here, privately. You are a blessing – ALWayS.


PS:  the people of Sudan are not the only ones forgotten by the world. So are the people of Myanmar, hit by Cyclone Mocha last week, and struggling through a political crisis.

Through ALWS, you support them with food, shelter and Hygiene Kits, and rebuilding schools inside Displaced Persons Camps. You can see your ALWS action in Myanmar here in Update 2.

Thank you!


Dear Editor,

Thank you for Ellen Whinnett’s piece in The Weekend Australian (May 20-21), highlighting the heroic RAAF and DFAT effort evacuating Australian-connected families from Sudan. There are other Australian heroes responding to this crisis whose story won’t ever get a headline. These heroes are the Australians who donate through aid agencies to care for the people left behind. Already $100,000 worth of aid is being mobilised through the small aid agency where I serve – ALWS. The quiet generosity of these kind and compassionate Aussies means aid teams can welcome families at the borders of Sudan with South Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia. Here, people are welcomed not as refugees, but as guests. In that spirit, the food, fresh water and shelter they receive means much more than life-saving aid. It shows people they have not been forgotten, and that gives them reason to hold on to hope. On their behalf, thank you to every Australian who humbly helps the best they can.

Jonathan Krause


HOPE Spot #19: Thursday 18th May 2023

Your ALWS-supported team safe after Myanmar Cyclone


Through ALWS you help thousands of people hurt by conflict in Myanmar.

On Sunday, the areas you work in Rakhine State were hit by the devastating Cyclone Mocha.

Villagers saw a huge wave 10 metres high wash huts and whole villages out to sea.

460 people are reported killed, and fears are held for many more.


On-site volunteers and community leaders report:

• Family shelters, made of bamboo and tarpaulin, destroyed
• Latrines and bathing stations damaged
• Very limited phone connection

Communications have been challenging, but ALWS has received this update from the Head of our Partner’s team in Myanmar.

(For security reasons, I cannot mention our Partner’s name.)


Dear All,

All full-time staff are safe and accounted for, as are our camp and community-based incentive workers and volunteers.

The communications remain a challenge as power is still out and cell phone are running out of batteries in the more remote camps, etc.

We have succeeded in getting the generator at the office running so phones can be charged by staff.

We are working on Travel Authorizations for staff to access camps.

They returned to Sittwe yesterday and will be undertaking rapid needs assessments in coordination with OCHA and the UN Clusters starting today, access permitting, as some areas are still flooded.

Camp and communities in high-risk areas were also relocated to safer evacuation centres.

We lost communications for a day, but phone, internet and flights are all operational again as of yesterday evening. Electricity is still out.

We want to assure you that despite the challenges we have good working relations with the authorities and can informally access those in need through our camp and community- based staff.

Thank you again for your goodwill and to respond to all those in need after Cyclone Mocha and beyond.



There has been damage to our partner’s office in Sittwe, as you can see below:


On your behalf, ALWS has committed an immediate $100,000 for the emergency response.

Critical needs are likely to include:
• temporary shelter
• water and sanitation
• emergency food supplies
• clothing


The families you are helping already had very little.

Some have been living in Displaced Persons Camps for 10 years. The current political crisis increases the challenge.

That’s why our Partner’s network of community-based workers is so important.

They are trusted by both the authorities and the communities, and this is vital to getting your ALWS help through to where you are most needed.


The Australian Government also has confidence to support your ALWS work in Myanmar …

… and I have high hopes that very soon I can share news with you of a new 5:1 Grant!


You are a blessing ALWayS – especially at times of emergency!


PS: As soon as I have confirmation of the potential 5:1 Australian Government Grant for Myanmar, I will let you know.

I hope this will be within the next two weeks, so our 5:1 donations can be claimed as a tax benefit this financial year. Thank you!

HOPE Spot #18a: Thursday 11th May 2023

I made a mistake yesterday…


… so instead of eating Cornerstone Cake, today I’m eating humble pie!

When I told you about the amount of Development Aid in Tuesday’s budget, I wrote:


                   For 23/24, this is: $4,768 billion.


Of course, it should be: $4.768 billion.


A full stop instead of a comma.

But a factor of 1000. Sigh. Sorry.


In correcting my mistake, let me add one extra detail to my graphic from yesterday. It’s at the end:


  Imagine our total income

Gross National Income

       as one of these:










What we give to people

      in poor countries

         is one of these:








in fact, it’s less

– just 19 cents.




PS: Thank you to Neil for pointing out my error!


HOPE Spot #18: Wednesday 10th May 2023


Did you get your slice?

Last week I told you how students at Cornerstone College in SA created 52 cakes in their Annual Bake-Off …

… and sold them slice-by-slice to support children in Somalia to go to school.


As I’ve watched the media Budget talk …

… I thought about those cakes.


It seems everybody wants their slice of the Budget Cake …

… and for it to be bigger.


That’s for others to comment on.


I’ll just share the facts about Australia’s aid for people in poor countries. Our:

Official Development Assistance.


For 23/24, this is: $4,768 billion.


Which sounds like a lot of money. And is …


… until you look at Australia’s total income.


Imagine our total income

Gross National Income

as one of these:



What we give to people

in poor countries

is one of these:



In fact, it’s less

– just 19 cents.


That makes us 27Th out of 30 rich countries (OECD) in our generosity. (Sweden gives FIVE TIMES what Australia does.)

I don’t know how that makes you feel  …

… but it makes me feel a little ‘crumby’.


I don’t blame the Government. Whatever Government we have.


It is us as an Australian community who tell our leaders what is important to us …

… which is why ALWS does welcome the Budget commitment to increase the amount Australia gives by 2.5% per year from 26/27 forward.


If we want a larger slice of the cake for those who only get crumbs swept from our table …

… then we need to speak up, LOUD, so those who are most vulnerable are not forgotten.


Is that having my cake, and eating it too?


Thank you for being a blessing ALWayS.



 ALWS works with networks like MICAH to speak up for those who don’t get heard. I hope this info today is helpful when you talk with people. 😊






HOPE Spot #17: Tuesday 9th May 2023



When the kids at Kingaroy decided to help kids in Somalia through ALWS … 

… they really put their foot in it. 

Not just with the Crazy Socks Day you see above … 

… but stepping out on their own ALWS Walk My Way too. 


Meanwhile, in SA’s Barossa Valley … 

… you needed to be very careful not to put your foot in it. 

There, the local Lutheran Parish held Cockroach Races and Yabby Races outside a century-old shearing shed …  



… as they raised money to support children in Somalia at their annual ‘Blessing of Seeds, Soils and Waters’! 

What’s exciting about my role here at ALWS is that I get to see first-hand all the wonderful ways people like you bring love to life … 



… like St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Sydney, right near the heart of Kings Cross, who on Sunday served up porridge to raise money for children in Somalia. 


Today, I just want to thank you for all you do for others through ALWS … 

… and encourage you that you are not alone in having a heart of kindness in this world where so many people need our help. 


Tonight, when the Budget is delivered, media will encourage us to ask:  

‘What’s In It for Me?’ 

Meanwhile, people like you ask:  

What’s In Me that I can do for Others?’  


That’s why together we can support children in Somalia … 

… and respond straightaway to help people fleeing the Sudan crisis*.  

Crazy socks.  






This is why you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you! 



* Please see Update 2 on your ALWS response to the crisis in Sudan. 



HOPE Spot #16: Friday 28th April 2023




These luscious creations weren’t lovingly handcrafted by a local Ladies Group for a church stall. 

Or made by me.  

(My first job was 5 years as a 5am pastry-chef in a Czech bakery in inner Melbourne.) 

 In fact, the amazing cakes you see here were created by students of Naturi House at Cornerstone Lutheran College in Mt Barker South Australia … 



… and are just 3 out of a total 52 cakes the students made!  

The best cakes are judged to find a winner … 



… and then sold off slice-by-slice to raise money to use the ALWS 18:1 Grant  



… to support children in Somalia to go to school 



… with a hot meal of porridge each day for the whole school year 



… prepared in a kitchen perhaps ‘slightly’ different to yours 

 No matter what kitchen you have, or what quality cook you might be … 

… if you’re kind and caring, they’re the only ingredients you need to make a difference in a child’s life. 

As the students at Cornerstone did … 

… with the $2217.60 they raised in their Bake-Off, to support 220 Somali children at school. (Proving you can have your cake and eat it too!) 


And as you do … 

… with everything you do to bring love to life for people through ALWS. 


That’s why you’re a blessing ALWayS – thank you! 



PS: See how I resisted making any bad Dad jokes about cakes?   


Until now.  

What do you call your Dad when he’s eaten so much cake he’s about to explode? 


Sorry – that was crumby. 😊 



HOPE Spot #15: Tuesday 25th April 2023


Today, on ANZAC Day, we take time out from our everyday to reflect on those who gave their lives, their health, their youth, their sons and daughters … 

… that we might live in a world of peace. 

Sadly, for millions of people that world of peace seems a world away. 

Ukraine. Myanmar. Ethiopia. Somalia. Afghanistan.  

Sadder still, is when those of us who are blessed with comfort, forget those who are hurting.



   That’s why today, as I huddle in the cold with the crowd gathered around our town’s war memorial … 

… waiting for dawn to break and the bugle’s mournful cry to call the past into the now  

… I’ll also take time to think on those people hurt by war and conflict who, through ALWS, you work so hard to make sure are not forgotten.    

 Lest we forget, let’s remember… 



I remember Jacob …




… who quietly kept me out of trouble’s way at Dadaab Refugee Camp on the border with Somalia 

… who saw friends killed by the Improvised Explosive Devices of terrorists Al Shabaab 

… who had to live behind a 3 metre high dirt-packed wall, designed by the US Army to stop the shred of shrapnel 

… who wanted to be an Accountant in Nairobi  

… but told me God had called him to serve here 

and so serve he would. 






I remember Ma Med …



forced to live in a Displaced Persons Camp just five kilometres from his home in Myanmar 

… who saw his house burned 

… his neighbours attacked with ‘long knives’ … 


… who told me: 

“At this time the children are crying. They cannot eat for three days. The children saw everything that happened, and after they see, they hold on to us, and are crying.” 

… a Dad, who could find it in his heart to say: 

“I still love the people who did these things.” 







I remember Concepta



… whose husband was killed in the war in South Sudan 

 … who fled with a child on her back, another held by the hand, another in her belly 

 … whose two teen daughters were kidnapped to be ‘wives’ to commanders  

 … who became a leader in education for children at Kakuma Refugee Camp, working with your Lutheran-supported team to give other children what she could not give her own 

 … telling me: 

 “Since the beginning of this pre-school, the people of Australia have been supporting us, and we are very much appreciating it. Without them, we thought the pre-school would close down. Tell them we are still working hard, and we welcome them helping us very much. They are the top people in the world assisting us. We are really thankful.” 



Today I also remember you … 

… and how blessed ALWS is that you do not forget those who are suffering 

… and through your kindness and caring bring love to life in their lives. 

Thank you for saying, and living, ‘Lest we forget’.  


Today, and ALWayS. 




Don’t forget those who are suffering, 

but imagine you are there with them. 

Hebrews 13:3b 


HOPE Spot #14: Tuesday 18th April 2023


I had hoped to be writing this HOPE Spot to you from Tigray in northern Ethiopia.

I wanted to show you where the food and support you supplied through ALWS was transforming lives.

However, last Wednesday we received an urgent email from Sophie Gebrayes, who leads the LWF team you support in Ethiopia.



(That’s Sophie in the photo, at the opening of a borehole you supported through ALWS.)


Conflict has broken out. Two aid workers have been killed. The Australian Government has issued a ‘Do Not Travel’.

That means instead of seeing first-hand the food you provide for people threatened by famine in the Horn of Africa …

… I’ll be in my office at home south of Adelaide.

Selfishly, I was feeling a bit disappointed for myself, until two messages arrived in my In-Box:


Photo: LWF Ethiopia




Subject: Porridge


Dear Jonathan,

This is in response to an email I have just received regarding the 18:1 giving.

I am involved in a small Bible Study group and recently I invited the ladies to bring to our study $10, in lieu of the regular morning tea we usually share before study.

I then served them porridge for morning tea. They were allowed a choice of maple syrup or brown sugar with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any photos but we discussed the plight of children in Somalia and especially that of girls and requested that our donation went to help girls if possible. The ladies all agreed it was the most unusual morning tea they had ever been served!




(I know at least two churches are also holding a Power Porridge Party to help provide food and school for children in Somalia using our 18:1 Grant.)


That brings me to the second email that arrived in my In-Box, from the front-line team you support in Somalia. They wanted to show you the children receiving the porridge you provide: 


Photo: LWF Somalia


This is your work, what happens when your kindness brings love to life!

After the children have finished their porridge, they’ll go into the classrooms you see behind them (which you also helped build through ALWS).

There they will receive the schooling you provide through the 18:1 Grant


Photo: LWF Somalia


… where your $10 donation can support a child in school for the rest of this year with teachers, desks, uniform, support for children with disabilities

… along with a cup of fortified porridge each day (200+ meals this year).


So, when I see the joy you bring these children in Somalia, then I happily say:

 ‘No, I am not sick of porridge yet!’


Thank you for being a blessing to these children – ALWayS!



PS: If prayer is one of the ways you care for people, I know Sophie’s LWF team in Ethiopia would appreciate your prayer support at this time. Thank you!


PPS: And if you’d like to hold your own Power Porridge Party, check out the details below!




HOPE Spot #13: Wednesday 12th April 2023



$2 for 1.8kg. 

That’s how much the rolled oats cost for the Power Porridge Party I cooked for ALWS Staff and Board Members before Easter. 

Add a litre of milk, and total cost was under $5 … to produce 40 serves. 

Which we offered for a $10 donation.  

($10 with the 18:1 Somalia Matching Grant can support a child in school for a year with a School Meal each day – around 200+ meals.) 


Our Guest Speaker, the Reverend Tim Costello, who leads the Help Fight Famine campaign of Australian churches through the Micah Foundation, got stuck in … 



… though I didn’t have the same success encouraging people to ‘go commando’  

(having the porridge plain, to feel even closer to the children they help in Somalia). 

Instead, people donated extra for access to this table … 




Which brings us to the school renamed ‘Jacinta’ in Somalia. 

I can’t show you a photo of the school, because that kind of exposure makes it a target for terrorist group Al Shabaab. (The same reason the school has no name on it anywhere.) 

Yurub, a front-line LWF worker you support in Somalia, explained why the community renamed the school Jacinta – the name of your ALWS Program Coordinator for Somalia: 



When I read all these things you achieve for the children through ALWS … 

… the school could just as well have been renamed <<MARTHA>> SCHOOL! 

I don’t know what kind of day you’re having today … 

… or what you had for breakfast  

… but I hope this message from Somalia brings you a smile as big as these: 



That’s your work <<Martha>> … and why you’re a blessing. ALWayS! Thank you! 

PS: You might consider having your own Power Porridge Party? Maybe for the first day of winter? If you do, take a photo and tell me about it!  JK 



HOPE Spot #12: Tuesday 4th April 2023

What do you remember about 2018? 

For me, it seems a lifetime ago. 

My clearest memory is my wife Julie beginning the 18-months planning and production process for our 70s-themed 60th birthday.  

Which turned out like what you see in the photo (check out the shoes!)



















Back in 2018 … 

… who could have imagined some of the things that have happened since then: 





… 761,402,282 cases worldwide  

… 6,887,000 lives lost 



Russia invading Ukraine… 

… up to 60,000 Russian soldiers killed 

… 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers 

… 7,200 civilians 

… 8 million Ukrainians become refugees 

… another 5.3 million displaced inside Ukraine 




… five years ago Australia was in the grip of the horror 2018 – 2019 drought 




… 8 submarines 

… up to $368 billion 

… (Australia’s foreign aid budget 2022/23:  $4.549 billion) 



AI … 

… did a computer write this HOPE Spot? 

… no – but apparently now it can. 


All this happened in just five years. 

Few could have predicted any of it. 

Which makes it really hard to know what might happen during the next five years.  

(Apart from Julie starting planning for our next ‘big’ birthday!) 


This is the challenge we all sometimes face. Finding the balance between … 

looking forward to responsibly plan for what may be 

looking back to learn from what has happened. 

What’s really important is we don’t overlook what is happening now … 

… like the famine threatening the Horn of Africa, which the world seems to have forgotten. 


That’s why ALWS is so thankful for people like you. 

You see what people need now, and you act.  

We’ve seen that in the wonderfully generous response to the 18:1 Somalia Grant to help children in Somalia go to school and have food to eat … 

… and how the ALWS family is providing shelter and support through our partner LWF to survivors of the Turkiye / Syria Earthquake. 


Your kindness last year … 

… we’re preparing your 2022 Annual Report. When you receive it, you’ll see: 


In 2022, working with other caring people like you, 

 together we impacted the lives of 343,267 people! 

(PLUS the tens of thousands of Ukrainian people that continue to benefit from our ALWS support through ACT Alliance.) 


For me, this demonstrates that no matter what the world (and the next five years) bring … 

… when we work together to bring love to life, each one of us can do extraordinary things! 


Thank you for all you do – you are a blessing ALWayS! 


PS: One of the ways I am looking to the future is updating the gift Julie and I leave in our Wills to ALWS – though hopefully that’s still a few birthdays away yet!  

If you’d like a copy of our Lives You Touch brochure to show how you can do that too, simply give us a call on 1300 763 407. Thank you! 





HOPE Spot #11: Tuesday 28th March 2023


Last year, Australia had a record winter grain crop.

Our farmers harvested 67.3 million tonnes.

(That’s despite the floods that hurt so many.)


If you loaded that grain into a B-Double like this …



… you’d need 1.5 million trucks to transport all that grain!

Put those B-Doubles end-to-end, and there’d be a line of trucks 30,000 kilometres long …



… that’s TWICE around Australia on Highway #1!

That’s something our country can be thankful for, and proud of …

… but doesn’t come close to the pride and thanks that farmer Amare Mulawa feels about four cobs of corn he’s grown in Ethiopia.


Photo: LWF Ethiopia


You know already about the five years of drought that threatens famine in  Ethiopia and Somalia.


What you might not know is that a new corn seed variety

– called ‘Lutheran’! –

 is transforming life for families like Amare’s.


Amare is a role-model farmer, supported by the LWF team in Ethiopia, now successfully growing ‘Lutheran’ corn.


“For the first time, I was able to earn almost ETB 9,000 ($600) from the sale of ‘Lutheran’ grown on my land.”


Amare is happy to explain why he prefers the new grain.

“To start with, it has a superior taste.

Secondly, the corn stalk holds three or four large cobs, whereas the old kind only holds one or two small ones, maximum.

Furthermore, due to the leafiness and thickness of the cob cover, it does not get attacked by birds and pests.

I now get 6 ETB (30 cents) for one cob, whereas before I used to get half the amount.”

“Finally, even if Lutheran takes two extra months to grow, it’s worth the wait due to the size, yield, taste, overall quality and potential for commercialisation.”


Amare concludes: “If you want to triple your income, get Lutheran!”


 I’m not sure if you watched Foreign Correspondent last week, with its feature on Somalia. (You can still watch it on ABC iView.)

What’s happening with the drought there, and in Ethiopia, threatens famine.


ALWS action like the 18:1 Grant to provide Daily School Meals of fortified porridge, and a year of schooling, to 8,080 children in Somalia …

… along with agricultural innovations like Amare’s ‘Lutheran’ corn

… and the fact ALWS supporters like you continue to reach out with care and kindness to help people far away, people you’ve never met

… means for families like Amare’s, you deliver a B-Double load of blessing. ALWayS.


Thank you!



PS: I will be heading off to Ethiopia straight after Easter to look at how ALWS can grow our action here as we work together to help fight famine. If you’d like me to visit your church / school / Fellowship Group / Probus etc, just reply to this email, or call 1300 763 407. I’d love to share with you (and promise not to tell too many of my ‘corny’ Dad jokes! 😊



HOPE Spot #10: Thursday 23rd March 2023

Tonight (urgent) … and yesterday 


 Can I urge you to watch Foreign Correspondent tonight.

 It’s on at 8pm on ABC (or catch up on iView). 

 The 30-minute program is focused on Somalia, where you work through ALWS. 

 I only saw the promo on TV this morning, but you will see scenes like this:




What you may not see is the food you are already delivering through ALWS and our partner LWF Somalia:

















The photo shows one of your ALWS-supported food distributions in Somalia.  

Each pack you see is a monthly food ration for a family of six.  

($105 can supply that 80kg pack of rice, wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and dates.) 


Foreign Correspondent tonight also interviews a young Somali mum, 7 months pregnant, who walked 30 kilometres a day, for many days, to find safety … 

… exactly the safety and support you offer in Displaced Persons Camps to families in Somalia who have lost everything. 

Later, the reporter looks fearfully into the camera, as the crew has received word that terrorist group Al Shabaab knows where they are. 


I vividly recall that same fear when I was talking with a Somali mum in a refugee camp, and we received word that Al Shabaab knew we were there. (That kind of challenge is why we at ALWS always welcome your prayers!) 


While I’m not sure what else will be in the Foreign Correspondent story tonight … 

… you can take heart knowing that through our 18:1 Matching Grant, you are supporting Somali children, like those you see on the TV, to go to school: 




Thanks to the 18:1 Grant, just $10 can provide a Daily Meal of fortified porridge (200+ meals in a year) plus everything a child needs to go to school. 


That brings us to another school, back here in Australia, yesterday. 


Celia, who leads our ALWS work in schools inspiring students to action, shared what happened after she’d delivered a chapel to the school about Somalia: 

Delivered a chapel this morning and then a big Year 12 lad, Muhammad, came up to me afterwards with his phone in hand and asked how he can make a donation.  

He wanted to donate $20. 10 each for him and his brother. 

I helped him get onto our website on his phone, and showed him how, and he did it then and there. When I asked him what moved him to do this he said: 


“We have so much… I wish I could give more,  

but I want to do this for two people like me and my brother.” 

Thank you for your love and care and kindness. 


Please watch Foreign Correspondent tonight at 8pm on the ABC, and see first-hand the people for whom you are a blessing – ALWayS. 



PS: Something else happened yesterday … ALWS Team Member, Julie, was calling supporters to say thank you for their generosity. A very senior lady, who’d been faithfully giving donations of $20, was grateful for the call, and even had Julie pray for her as she was feeling unwell. It was only when Julie finished the call that she realised the lady hadn’t given $20 … but $20,000! 





HOPE Spot #9: Tuesday 21st March 2023

Bless our guest

Last Friday I went to the funeral of a family member – ‘Uncle’ Keith.

It was a small funeral. 

Just 12 people. 11 of us family. 

Up back, on his own, sat a gentleman no one knew.


It was only at the graveside, when

he shared a few words, that we

learnt he had been the hairdresser

for Uncle Keith for many years.


He’d quietly made the journey from

citysalon to country town for the

funeral farewell.

That sort of extra effort made me

think of you,

our supporters….

… and what you do for people

through ALWS. 

You give quiet humble care.

Happy to sit in the ‘back row’, yet ready to help make sure no one is forgotten or overlooked.


On the same day as Uncle Keith’s funeral, I received an update from the

LWF team you support in Poland, caring for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.


NB: Poland hosts 1.5 million people forced to flee Ukraine.


The LWF team don’t refer to the people they serve as ‘refugees’.

Instead, they call them ‘guests’.

That says a lot.

The people aren’t numbers to be processed. They are guests to be welcomed. 

Made to feel at home. Delighted with hospitality, and little acts of kindness.

The vicar of the Lutheran Church welcoming guests from Ukraine, Adam Bujok, explained:

“The word refugee creates a distance. There is no distance in the word guests.”

You can see that approach come to life in the care the LWF team, and volunteers from

Lutheran churches, give their guests, on behalf of people like you whose kindness

helps make it possible:


Volunteers help children make handcrafts.

Others bake cakes … then listen.

Some serve up spaghetti.

New friends manicure the nails of mums who survived bombings

You can see why this hands-on personal care is precious when you hear stories from

survivors – like 10 year-old Fedir, who escaped from a town close-by a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

One day Fedir rode his

bicycle to get milk:

“I heard explosions and

rode my bike very fast. 

I saw a crowd of people. I

came closer, and I saw a

person lying in blood. 


People cried, and there was broken glass everywhere. 

A tree was burning in the city centre. The explosion had thrown a man’s dog away.

An ambulance came and took the person that was lying there. 

He was a power plant worker, and people said he died.”

That happened six months ago, and Fedir still recalls every detail.

Children carry trauma with them …

… as you can see when children playing with Lego build army checkpoints with their

plastic bricks.

That’s why kindness is so critical.

         Reading storybooks.

                    Manicuring nails.

                             Cooking food.

                                       Cutting Uncle Keith’s hair.

Thank you for all you do through ALWS to bring your love to life for guests like …

… Fedir, now safe in Poland 

… children going to school in Somalia thanks to 18:1 Grant donations 

… earthquake survivors in Aleppo in Syria, who now have shelter.

Your kindness and care help make sure no one is forgotten.

That’s why you are a blessing to your guests – ALWayS.


Jonathan Krause,
Community Action Manager, ALWS


Photos: LWF Poland

HOPE Spot #8: Wednesday 8th March 2023

Someone is stealing my future – International Women’s Day


Sometimes you don’t know what’s hiding behind a smile …

… like Istahil, a young woman I met in a refugee camp after she fled Somalia.


“When I came here, I was very young.

I remember my home in Somalia is very beautiful, and everything is correct, except the war.

I am hearing the guns. I remember the bombs.

The advice was to stay at home, and not go out. I felt so afraid. When I saw the guns were going, I felt so afraid, and went crying to my mother.

After that, we had to leave our home. I don’t remember a lot, but I do know I came from a good home to nothing.

I had to leave school in Grade 3. My mother asked me to stay at home and look after my brothers. I had to leave school so my brothers could go.

I wish I could have stayed at school.”


The good news is that through ALWS you are supporting girls from Somalia, like Istahil, to go to school.

As you can see below, the buildings may be basic …


… but it’s what you’re building inside the classroom that’s important.


Istahil was very clear about your impact on her life:

“Now, I would like to learn everything, so I can help the children I will have. If they come to me with homework, now I cannot help them.

The reason girls miss out on school is often economic problems.

Some don’t have anyone to assist them, and they may leave home because there is no work. They don’t have any help, so they must go clean houses. They divide the money they earn by two. One half they use for themselves, the other half they give to their mother to help care for the children.

The mother, she is happy, and says continue working to assist my children.

“I am disappointed I did not finish school.
I feel like someone is stealing my future.”

I see people working for my community, but when they ask questions, I cannot answer. But now I want to work for my development.

I am disappointed that girls miss out on school.

We feel shame.

Most of us cannot even write our own name.

Some are disappointed they got married early and stopped education.

Today I know the value of knowledge.

If I was the leader of this community, the first thing I would do is build education for girls like me.

Then I would find out what is happening in each home, so I can help them. I will make females strong, even help them have a small business.

We need work and education together.”


Today is International Women’s Day. The call to action is to embrace equity.


Through ALWS, you can do this in a very practical way by supporting girls in Somalia to go to school, using our 18:1 Matching Grant.


Tragically, too often girls in countries like Somalia are left behind, and their needs overlooked or forgotten. That’s why, out of the 8,080 children we aim to support in Somalia to go to school, more than 5,000 are girls.


Your kindness can help protect them from the hurt-filled future they face:


FACT 1: 99% of girls and women suffer Female Genital Mutilation
FACT 2: 45% of girls are married off before age 18
FACT 3: 75% of women aged 15 – 49 have no education


Your gift of just $10, using the 18:1 Matching Grant, can support a girl in school for a whole year, providing:

[x]  daily School Meal

[x]  school uniform

[x]  school desk

[x]  renovated classrooms

[x]  facilities and assistive devices for children with special needs

[x]  training for teachers

[x]  Dignity Kits for girls


That daily School Meal is vital, as Somalia is facing the threat of famine, and more than 500,000 children are in deadly danger from hunger.


Your $10 donation, over a year, with the 18:1 Matching Grant, provides 200+ meals for the girl you help!


Your kindness and compassion take girls in Somalia like Istahil from life like this (‘home’ in the refugee camp)…


… into a classroom, where the future that’s been stolen, can start again.

This is what lies behind Istahil’s smile.

That’s equity we can all embrace.


Thank you for being a blessing today …

… and ALWayS!


Jonathan Krause,
Community Action Manager, ALWS


HOPE Spot #6: Friday 24th February

What a life is worth…



Today it is one year since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.


8 million Ukrainian people were forced to flee.

180,000 Russian soldiers are estimated killed or wounded.

100,000 Ukrainian soldiers too.
















Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert


40,000 Ukrainian civilians killed.

At least 400 children.


What’s a life worth?


The death toll from the earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria is now more than 46,000 people.

A million people homeless.

26 million people needing aid.



















Photo: GOPA– DERD / ACT Alliance


What’s a life worth?


When you read those numbers, you can feel overwhelmed.

Wonder what you can do.

That’s why I want to tell you about Christian… 
















(That’s Christian being a funny fella as he and I worked the barbie at an ALWS Walk My Way.)


Christian was a highly-valued colleague here at ALWS.

A good friend.

A loving husband.

A fun-filled dad.

On Wednesday, it was the second anniversary of cancer taking Christian’s life.

















Photo: ALWS


When I think about how much we miss Christian:
•    his big ever-present smile 
•    his over-the-top generosity – especially with lollies!
•    his heart full of passion to help others, as a Primary teacher … advocate for the poor through ALWS … worker of wood

… it reminds me how precious each person is who you help through ALWS. 


How loved they are … 

… how much love they give

… and how worthy they are of the love you bring to their life:

In Ukraine, building bomb-shelters in basements of schools so children are safe to learn.

In Syria, serving meals and putting up emergency shelters for families left homeless by the earthquake.













Photo: GOPA- DERD / ACT Alliance


In Somalia, sending children to school, with a meal of porridge each day to protect them against the deadly threat of famine.


So, what’s a life worth?


Your kindness and generosity tell the people you help they are valuable, and valued.

For people in danger of being forgotten by the world, that’s a priceless gift.

So today, on these anniversaries that bring so much pain …

… I thank you for bringing love to life.


It is worth it.




Jonathan Krause – Community Action manager

PS: Just a reminder about the 18:1 Matching Grantto support children in Somalia to go to school. Thanks to the Grant, your impact is 18 TIMES your personal donation … so, just $10 can provide support for one year – school uniform + school desk + daily school meal (200+ meals of porridge) + renovated classrooms + Dignity Kits for girls + training for teachers. Donate 18:1 now!


HOPE Spot #5: Tuesday 21st February

Porridge – how do you like it?

I’m not sure if you think much about porridge.


It’s been on my mind because of the new 18:1 Grant you can use to provide porridge to children threatened by famine in Somalia.


Back when I was a kid, we had two versions of porridge – Dad’s was boiled in water, Mum’s in milk.


Dad’s was thin, Mum’s thick.



I’m not brave enough to say which I liked best … but neither matched the Froot Loops I craved, but our family couldn’t afford.


Instead, porridge was a cheap easy way to fill the tummies of four hungry kids – Porridge isn’t cheap and easy anymore.


Go to a café, and they add fancy this, and healthy that, and colourful something else.

For me, the only fancy thing to put on top of porridge is Milo! Two spoons.


But whatever porridge you prefer …


… I’m sure none will taste quite like the porridge you serve up as a School Meal for children in Somalia, using the new ALWS 18:1 Matching Grant.


The School Porridge you provide is mixed cereal food (rice, wheat, sorghum, millet) and protein (beans) blended to porridge.


Not so delicious, but super nutritious!


The porridge is delivered as a dry ration to parents, up to 10kg per family per month.


This has two benefits – it saves cost plus engages parents in the process.


There is a special focus on ensuring children with disabilities receive all the nutritional support they need.


What’s amazing is the 18:1 Grant means your donation of just $10 can support a child in Somalia in school for one year ($184 value) – school uniform + learning materials + renovated classrooms + training for teachers +


… 200 School Meals of fortified porridge!


Your gift of porridge keeps children strong and healthy now …

… while the schooling you provide builds children for the future.


This really came home to me when I talked to Regina, a refugee cook at the Reception Centre at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Here, you support new arrivals from countries like Somalia to be welcomed with food and shelter …


             “My biggest priority is education

              for my children. I will do whatever

              I have to do, go wherever I have

                   to go, so they can have

                       a stable education.”


Photo: ALWS


“I have nobody here at Kakuma, but I know that education is the biggest gift I can give my children.


That is why we are here, and why I work in this kitchen.


After we arrived, I was one year without a job.


I was praying very hard God will bring me a job because I did not have any money to help my children. I kept coming here in the Reception Centre asking for a job. They kept saying no. But I kept asking and asking.


I begged the Officer, even if you don’t pay me, let me work here for just a little extra food I can give my children.


I worked for one month without pay, and then I got this official job. They had seen my efforts, and my good work, and so they gave me a job.


On the days I must cook porridge, I wake up at 5am. I come here and I build the fire. In the pot I put water until it boils. I put in the porridge, and stir this for 15 minutes. Then it goes in the serving pot.


Some days I cook for 2,000 people. Today it is more than 1,000.


There are four cooks working with me. One person is at the pot, stirring. Another is collecting wood to put in the fire. The other is washing the utensils. Two remain for serving.


I want to say thank you very much to the people who give. You really help us so much.


There are children here who have lost their parents, but at the end of each day they have a plate of food because of you.

God bless you.”


I think you can see now why your porridge is so precious!


Our ALWS aim is to use the 18:1 Grant to support 8,080 Somali children to go to school, and have the porridge each day that can protect them from the threat of famine.


If you’d like to help serve up porridge, you’re welcome to donate 18:1 now!


Jonathan Krause,
Community Action Manager, ALWS


PS: Earthquake Update Yet again, the kindness and generosity of the ALWS family is shining through, and we have now met our in-faith ALWS commitment of $80,000 to support earthquake survivors. Your help will go to work in Aleppo in Syria, through our partner LWF and Caritas Syria, aiming to provide shelter, meals and support for children to return to school. Thank you!

 Spot #4: Wednesday 15th February

GOOD NEWS – new 18:1 Grant to support Somali children to go to school


Each day seems to bring more bad news from Turkiye and Syria, where more than 35,000 people have lost their lives to the earthquakes.

Through ALWS, you have a special focus on helping children, including with education…


















Photo: GOPA- DERD / ACT Alliance


School is one of the most effective ways to help children recover from trauma, as they see life can be ‘normal’ again.

Children learn. Have fun. Make friends. Play.


Right now, as the world is focused on Turkiye and Syria, it’s vital that families threatened by famine in Somalia and Ethiopia aren’t forgotten – especially the children.


That’s why I’m excited to bring you good news today:


A new 18:1 Grant means you can protect children

in Somalia from deadly hunger…

… plus support them to go to school!












Look at what you do for each child you help:










The cost to give this support to one child for one whole year averages $184.


The 18:1 Grant means you can do

all this for a child for just $10!


(Includes 200+ School Meals of fortified porridge

– one per day for the whole school year –

vital to protect children against hunger!)


Why the children need you – especially the girls!


Our aim is to support 8,080 Somali children to go to school …

… of whom 5,300 are girls – about the same ratio as the photo above.


The reason is only 3% of girls and women in Somalia have completed primary education …

… and 99% have suffered the trauma of Female Genital Mutilation.


Supporting girls to go to school is a very practical effective way you can help girls overcome this disadvantage they suffer simply because they are girls.

Your 18:1 donation even includes Dignity Kits for girls with female-only hygiene essentials!


Here’s how your 18:1 Grant works

I have sent out a Mail Pack with all the details of the 18:1 Grant from ALWS partners in Europe and the US, but this simple diagram summarises what it means for you:









The 18:1 Grant you give help 18 TIMES your personal donation 

Plus, your donation is tax-deductible.

So, if you’d like to support a child in Somalia to go to school, and be safe from hunger, simply DONATE 18:1 NOW!


The table below is a guide to how many children you can support:





Thank you from Hani

Let me leave you with Hani, a girl in Somalia who has already benefitted from the schooling people like you have provided through ALWS:


“I missed my chance for education because my parents couldn’t afford the school fees. This had disappointed me a lot.

In fact, it was very painful. When you get discouraged, your future remains in the dark, but I always wished that better chances would arrive.


I never had such opportunities before, and now there is great difference.

I am very happy. Thanks for giving me such a wonderful support.”

Thank you for your wonderful support. You are a blessing ALWayS!




PS: Our ALWS aim is to support 8,080 children in Somalia to go to school, and be safe from hunger. Using the 18:1 Grant, your donation of $10 can support a child in school for one year – including 200+ daily School Means. Please donate 18:1 now to give more Somali children like Hani ‘better chances’ and ‘opportunities’!



HOPE Spot #3: Tuesday 14th February

You did it for me …



Thanks to the kindness of people like you for victims of the Türkiye Syria earthquake:


ALWS can DOUBLE AGAIN our in-faith commitment

for the emergency relief effort – to $80,000!


Already, as of 8 am Tuesday 14 February, $75 901 has been donated … 

thank you!  




Our ALWS commitment will support the work of Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Aleppo in Syria. LWF will work with Caritas Syria to: 


  • support 8,250 children with education 
  • supply shelter and householder essentials to 5,000 people 
  • deliver food for 27,500 people 
  • give health support to 2,600 people 
  • implement water and sanitation for 8,800 people 
  • provide psycho-social first aid 


While there are challenges helping when so many are hurt … 

… you can take hope seeing the impact of your generosity, as these photos from another ACT Alliance partner, GOPA-DERD (from Greek Orthodox church) will show you:  


“When I was hungry …













… you gave me something to eat 













When I was thirsty …












… you gave me something to drink 

















When I was a stranger … 












… you welcomed me 















When I was naked … 












… you gave me  something to wear 


















When I was sick … 












… you took care of me 


















When I was in jail … 















… you visited me 













“Whenever you did it for any of my people … 














… no matter how unimportant they seemed 












… that was me,  you did it for me.” 


Inspired by Matthew 25:34-40 


Today, Valentine’s Day, celebrates romantic love. 

I thank you for the generous selfless humble love you bring to life for people who have lost everything. You are a blessing ALWayS! 



Jonathan Krause
Community Action Manager


PS: Even as ALWS responds to this earthquake emergency in Türkiye and Syria, we have today mailed good news of an 18:1 Matching Grant to support 8,080 Somali children to go to school. This includes a daily school meal of fortified porridge to protect them from hunger.  Donate 18:1 for Somalia  to help make sure children threatened by famine aren’t forgotten. Thank you! 


All photos supplied by: GOPA-DERD, MECC -ACT Alliance


HOPE Spot #3: Thursday 9th February

Hope where it’s hardest – your ALWS Earthquake Action DOUBLES!



Yesterday my son sent me a photo from the Turkiye earthquake.


It is too heartbreaking to show you here …

… a father was holding the hand of his daughter, who lay crushed under the concrete.


My son is a 19 year-old tradie.

Tough as nails.













Yet he said the photo brought him to tears.

It did me too.


The photo reminds us that when we see the horrifying death toll of more than 11,000 people …

… that each of those 11,000 people has a family and friends, who will now have to bear a loss that lasts a lifetime.

That’s why your help through ALWS is so precious, and why I’m thankful I can tell you:


Your generosity means we can now DOUBLE

our in-faith ALWS emergency support to $40,000!


Photos like the one my son sent me, and the one below from an ACT Alliance partner,  remind us that every single life is precious…















Photos: GOPA-DERD / ACT Alliance

… worth clawing away with bare hands in the rubble of a collapsed building, even as darkness falls and the temperature drops to freezing.


Your ALWS action is precious not just here in Turkiye and Syria …

… but in crises the world seems to have forgotten:


  •      threat of famine in Somalia and Ethiopia
  •      families displaced and in danger in Myanmar
  •      world’s poorest communities in South Sudan and Burundi.


Thank you for bringing hope where it’s hardest.


You can see this in a report I received overnight, outlining what ACT Alliance church partners are already doing in Turkiye / Syria:


  •     provide hot cooked meals
  •     distribute blankets and winterization items
  •     deliver shelter items



On-the-ground teams in Syria are also carrying out needs assessments.

This work is challenging because of the impact of the 12 year civil war. It is planned that Christian Aid will lead response in non-government-controlled areas, while MECC (Middle East Council of Churches) will lead in government-controlled areas.

Your prayers are welcomed for the ACT Alliance teams you support here.


How else can you and I find hope where there is so much hurt?

I see flickers of hope in the humanity of:


  • 45 nations sending aid and rescue workers
  • churches of the world responding together through ACT Alliance
  • Australian Government committing $10 million of aid
  • Australian aid agencies working through Emergency Action Alliance
  • Russia and Ukraine offering to help
  • China making a contribution
  • and, of course, people like you who care, and act


I pray that even as you see the hurt and pain in Syria and Türkiye …

… and think of the photo of the father holding the hand of his lost daughter

… you can take heart knowing your actions of love shine through the darkness, and show a way out of misery.

Thank you for being such a blessing. ALWayS.



Jonathan Krause – Community Action manager

PS: As ALWS responds to this earthquake emergency in Türkiye and Syria, we will maintain our efforts to help families of Ethiopia and Somalia threatened by looming famine.It is our commitment they will not be forgotten. The good news is we have locked in an 18:1 Matching Grant to support 8,080 Somali children to go to school – where they will receive daily school meals. The 18:1 Matching Grant means your personal impact is 18 TIMES your donation. 


Donate 18:1 for Somalia


PHOTOS: *GOPA-DERD is Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development



HOPE Spot #2: Tuesday 7th February

Your ALWS action for Türkiye / Syria Earthquake


You will have seen the news today of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Türkiye / Syria.

ALWS has committed $20,000 from our Emergency Fund to the response of churches worldwide through ACT Alliance.

The fact we can do this so quickly is because of the kindness and commitment of people like you – thank you!

If you would like to be part of this emergency response, simply…




  •        Monday 6 February, two powerful earthquakes
  •        key impact: south-east Turkey and northern Syria
  •        first quake 7.8, epicentre in south near Gaziantep city
  •        second quake 7.5, epicentre Central Turkey
  •        24 hours after earthquake, death toll reported as 3,800+
  •        officials from WHO warn this toll could increase 8-fold
  •       13,293 people reported injured in Turkey alone
  •        temperatures dropped to freezing overnight



Our plan is that your ALWS aid will be channelled through on-ground ACT Alliance partner, Christian Aid.

While damage assessments are still in process, our experience in responding to previous earthquake disasters indicates likely needs may include:

  •      shelter
  •      clean water
  •      sanitation
  •      household essentials
  •      warm clothes


Thank you for any emergency response you may like to give – donate now



Jonathan Krause – Community Action Manager







HOPE Spot #1: Friday 3rd February

What ABC listeners got wrong at Christmas


Lovely to talk with you. I hope you had a blessed Christmas.

If you got to have holidays too, I trust they went well. (Mine did – family, food, fun!)

One of the things I like most about summer is listening to the cricket on ABC radio.




Such a summer thing to do. The voices so smooth and soothing you soon slip into a nap.

(Not a good idea though if you’re wielding a power tool at the time!)

This year, the Australian team was so strong, the games all seemed to finish early, and I’d have to listen to ‘normal’ radio.


In one such session, the radio host asked listeners for three words to describe the season of Christmas.

(As you’d expect these days, Jesus didn’t get a mention. ☹)

What encouraged me though was that the three top words were:






As I thought about that, I realised I’m blessed to experience those three things year-round.

They are what you do for people through ALWS.

My only change would be to re-order the words:


      Your KINDNESS …

                                    … brings HOPE

                                                              … which creates JOY


The world can use all the kindness it can get.

The famine threatening in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Violence in Myanmar, and hurt for Rohingya refugees who fled.

The cold-blooded attacks on Ukraine.


When you see all the hurt …

… you may wonder if what you and I do together through ALWS makes a difference.

When I feel like that, I lift my eyes and see:


•      300 families in Somalia with 80kg of food per month,

because of you

•      thousands of displaced children in Myanmar with a school to go to,

because of you

•      schools in Ukraine with bomb-shelters in their basement to keep children safe,

because of you

Going back to the ABC listeners’ list of Christmas words, I reckon there’s one missing.

The most important word of all.



The love we receive.

The love we then offer others.

The kind of love that never gives up …


… despite the fifth year of failed rains in Somalia and Ethiopia

… despite the unrelenting missile attacks of the Russians on Ukraine

… despite it being a full two years of brutal military junta in Myanmar


Love that is patient, kind, supportive, loyal, hopeful, trusting,

(1 Corinthians 13)




You can see what this means to these children, and their parents, at a Learning Space you helped build inside a Displaced Persons Camp in Myanmar.

Thank you for bringing your love to life through ALWS – you are a blessing ALWayS!




PS: Next week I can share news of an 18:1 Matching Grant that will vastly increase your ministry through ALWS for the children of Somalia!




HOPE Spot #46: Friday 16 December

When Frankenstein came to Christmas 


How’s your Christmas prep going? Busy, isn’t it.

I haven’t started yet …

… apart from sharing about your ALWS work at the Christmas & Carols service of two churches in the Barossa Valley last Sunday.

I wasn’t sure how to link together Christmas in Bethlehem 2,000+ years ago … to us here in Australia today … to the famine that’s been looming Somalia over the last few months.


It’s so easy for those worlds to seem so far apart.



That’s when Frankenstein came calling.


I was thinking about the Three Wise Men who came to welcome and worship the baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh …

… which led to my wife’s story of her uncle who managed in the Christmas reading at church to include Frankenstein among the gifts the Wise Men brought!


You can see in the photo the ‘gifts’ I used to symbolise the gifts of the wise men …

… but when children from the congregation opened the ‘Ho Ho’ gift boxes, they found something very different:




This is the food ration you deliver to families threatened by famine in Somalia.


What you see here is food for a family of six for one week:
•    6kg of wheat flour
•    6 kg of rice
•    6 kg of sugar
•    a litre of vegetable oil
•    250 gms of dates
(Cost: $25. Value: priceless.)


The children placed the food in the manger the church had made for their ‘Live Nativity’ Christmas presentation to their community.

This is a little different to how your food aid in Somalia is actually delivered …


Photo: LWF Somalia


… but it’s a way of showing that while you may not bring actual gold, frankincense and myrrh 

… your gift of food to hungry families in Somalia is just as precious!




I know people like you help others through ALWS for all kinds of reasons. 

For me, as a Christian, it’s a way to live my faith and bring love to life. 


Whatever reason you have for helping …

… at Christmas I feel especially blessed to witness your kindness and generosity, and see your humble selfless love for others.


In a world that is so crazy and commercial,
you are the true spirit of Christmas.

That’s why I want to thank you for everything you have done for others through ALWS in 2022:

  * people of Ukraine, under attack from the failed Russian invasion

  * child victims of conflicts forgotten by the world – Ethiopia and Myanmar

  * people with disabilities in the world’s poorest communities

  * girls and women in Nepal suffering simply because of their gender

  * farming families in countries like Burundi hurt by changing climate


Right now, I especially thank you for the help you give to mums and dads and kids and grandies and aunties and uncles threatened by famine in the Horn of Africa.

You are extra important here because the world seems to have forgotten these people.

We haven’t though.


That’s why, heading into the new year, ALWS is working on a partnership to increase the number of lives you can save and children you can protect.

The partnership aims to bring you together through ALWS with …

… the Church of Sweden and the American Friends Service Committee 

… to access a large matching grant from Bread for the World in Germany 

… delivered by LWF (Lutheran World Federation) in Somalia!


That sounds complex …

… but what it will mean for you is simply that any donation you give will be multiplied many times over!

Together, we hope to help 25,000 of the hardest-hit families.

(We’ll need a very big Christmas manger to fit in all that help!)


As we work on that partnership …

… can I leave you with a message from another partnership you have in Africa through ALWS, in Burundi.  

Pablo Lo Moro, who oversees the program for LWF, wrote to me this week:


I take advantage of this opportunity to thank everyone at ALWS for their unwavering support.

Without ALWS, there would literally be no LWF in Burundi, ranked as the world “hungriest” country by some measures. 

My gratitude to the Australian taxpayers as well. We do strive to make a difference with these hard-earned funds.


This is how precious you are in the lives of the people you help.

You live the spirit of Christmas with every gift you give, every prayer you bring.


That’s why I pray you have a blessed Christmas season with those you love …

… and thank you for the love you bring to life for people at risk from hunger and poverty and injustice and discrimination and the danger of being forgotten.

Truly, you are a blessing ALWayS!




PS: Just a reminder that I (and all the team here at ALWS) welcome invitations to visit your church, school, Probus, Rotary or Social Group, to share stories of what you do in people’s lives through ALWS. Just call 1300 763 407 or reply to this email.

Thank you, and may God bless you with a very happy Christmas!


HOPE Spot #45: Monday 5 December

Simple things, small help, smiling faces


One of the special joys of working for you at ALWS is hearing from people like you!

Whether that’s a two-line email after a HOPE Spot … a quick chat over dodgy coffee when I’ve presented at a church … or a note like this one from Rosemary about Gifts of Grace:

I appreciated the little write-ups about how each donation gets used in the ‘Gifts of Grace’ catalogue. I wanted to add why I chose some.


When I turned the page to the ‘Assistive Devices’, the girl in the picture is Irene. My dear mother’s name was Irene, and although she died nearly 20 years ago, I still think of her every day. She was a kind and lovely lady who helped others, so this is in memory for her.


Then I saw ‘Irrigation’ and that made me think of my dear Dad who died just a few months ago. He always ate vegetables, so I thought those veggies are in memory for him.

The ‘School Sets’ are because my grandchildren are still in their school.


 It saddens me to think of how hard it is for these people. But these simple things seem to help them so much and they seem to appreciate the help so very much. 


I hope our small help can help them very much. Their smiling faces help me.




When I read this note, I got a tear in my eye.

In just a few lines, Rosemary has summed up what your help through ALWS is all about.

You might think that ‘simple things’ like giving someone a Mosquito net … or teaching them how to use Drip Irrigation … or providing pencils and paper with a School Set are ‘small help’ …

… yet ‘smiling faces’ like these children at Kakuma Refugee Camp show you just how precious you are:



Now, as you and I look forward to Christmas …


(when the greatest gift in history

came in the smallest of packages

in the simplest of places!)


… I pray you will know in a special way, just like Rosemary, that you are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: If you haven’t yet ordered your Gifts of Grace or want to order more, you can still do so here. Be quick though, as the mail through December can be quite slow to receive your Grace Cards in time for Christmas. Thank you!


Photos: ALWS


HOPE Spot #44: Tuesday 22 November

Your starting role in tomorrow morning’s Socceroos World Cup campaign


I’m not sure what your foot skills are like with a soccer ball.

Or if you can direct a header into the back of the net. 

But when Australia takes on France at 6am tomorrow morning (Wednesday 23/11) …

… you’ll be there.

Not just in the stands, or on the bench, but right there on the pitch.




Because Awer Mabil, Australia’s winger and goal-scoring sensation, was born and grew up at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya …

… where, through ALWS, you support refugee children (like he was) to go to school

















… and play sport (soccer, volleyball, basketball, girls comps too)

… and even join in Kakuma’s Got Talent! as dancers, rappers, singers

… while making sure children with disabilities are not forgotten and left behind!


That’s not Awer Mabil in the photo …

… but one day, with your support, he might be.


Awer’s mother fled the war in South Sudan in 1994. Awer was born a year later. In 2006, the family were accepted into Australia as humanitarian refugees.

Last week, the Weekend Australian newspaper featured an interview by journalist Cameron Stewart, where Awer talked about going back to Kakuma for the first time in 2014.


“It was very emotional for me going back … When I left, I was only a boy, but coming back as a young man I saw it from a completely different perspective to when I was a carefree kid…

“I saw how it was such a difficult place and a difficult situation and a difficult environment.

“We lived in a mud hut the size of a one-bedroom house and we cooked outside … every second week we got a kilo of rice and we had to make that last until next time.”


Awer was inspired to start a charity ‘Barefoot to Boots’ to provide sporting equipment to children and young people at Kakuma.

You do too, through ALWS.


Whether it’s through Walk My Way where caring Aussies like you step out so refugee children can step in to school …

… or a $7 Gifts of Grace to help provide assistive devices to children with disabilities at Kakuma Refugee Camp

… you can see from the photo below just how precious your support of sport and children and young people at Kakuma is:














Without your support, days with no school or sport can drag into boredom (the word ‘Kakuma’ means ‘nowhere’).

Without your kindness, months can become years and decades as people at Kakuma wait for the chance to start a new life in a country like Australia (only 1% of refugees are granted visas to anywhere each year) …

… or to return to their home country when peace makes it safe.

Right now, the fifth year of drought in the Horn of Africa is forcing more people to become refugees, as famine looms in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Even if you don’t get up to barrack for Australia tomorrow morning …

… or you have read my email too late and missed it

… you can support another very special soccer team – Kakuma United:














Kakuma United won’t be at the World Cup, but they do play in the Kenya Premier League.

What’s special about Kakuma United is the players are all refugees.

They come from many different nations, and many tribes within nations. In times past, this may have been a cause of conflict …

… but football (soccer) has brought them together as brothers.


There is also a girls’ league, with the team known as Kakuma Divas! 

The 200,000 people living at Kakuma come together too, to cheer on their team. They know the players by name, as they have graduated to Kakuma United after playing in local Premier League-style competitions set up inside the camp by our ALWS partner, LWF.


So, when the World Cup match against France starts tomorrow …

… look for Awer Mabil – playing for Australia, and for all the people still at Kakuma.


You can feel a special pride knowing your ‘starting role’ through ALWS is supporting other young refugees to ‘kick on’ and begin ‘heading’ for a better life.

That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS.




PS: It’s not just Awer Mabil to look out for in the Socceroos jersey. Also in the Australian World Cup Squad are:


Garang was born in Egypt, to parents from South Sudan. The family moved to Shepparton in Victoria, where the local Lutheran Church flourishes as it welcomes refugees from across the world. Garang is set to be the youngest-ever player to represent Australia at the World Cup.


Thomas comes from South Sudan, and grew up in refugee camps in Kenya. He captained the Olyroos at the Olympics, and was Player of the Match in the win against Argentina.


All photos: ALWS      

Awer Mabil quotes: The Weekend Australian, Cameron Stewart, 12 – 13 November 2022


HOPE Spot #43: Friday 11 November

How your Long Drop Loo is a lifesaver

HOPE Spot #42: Wednesday 2 November



HOPE Spot #41: Tuesday 25 October 

Mozzies, Aussies, becozzee …


I live in SA, and last week the Government passed a law that shops could open Sunday mornings from 9am. 

(Before this change, it was 11am. No jokes please, 11am was perfect, keeping Sunday mornings special.) 


In the same news bulletin, it talked about the flood waters pushing down the Murray.  


Here in SA, the biggest concern seems to be the extra mozzies that might disturb campers.

Which brings me to your brand new ALWS Gifts of Grace catalogue, hitting mailboxes from today.


Our world seems to be in so much turmoil right now … 


  • floods hurting so many people in NSW and northern Victoria 
  • brutal war in Ukraine 
  • looming famine in the Horn of Africa … 


… not to mention the cost-of-living pressures hitting all of us. 

It can feel hard to know where to start in getting through all that. 


May I suggest with a $4 Mosquito Net. 


Not for those campers on the Murray, but for a family in Bangladesh, forced from their home in Myanmar, and now refugees. 


You already support these families through ALWS … 


… but this Christmas you could add a Gifts of Grace Mosquito Net that for just $4 can help protect the family’s children from deadly malaria. 



Mum Habiba told your front-line team: 


“The mosquito net is useful,  because there is a drain here infested with mosquitoes, and my family are not sleeping due to mosquito bites.” 


The $4 Mosquito Net is one of 6 gifts under $10 in this year’s Gifts of Grace. 


You can also give: 

School Set for a child in Myanmar (including solar-powered lamp) – $9 

Drip Irrigation to support ladies in Nepal to grow veggies – $6 

Tree Saplings to restore environment in Bangladesh – $8 


Our hope is these ‘priced less, but priceless’ gifts will help make sure no one needs miss out on Gifts of Grace this year – either giving them or receiving them.  




You receive a Grace Card for each gift you buy …  


… and this becomes your gift, or a special ‘extra’ to the gifts you ordinarily give.  


Each Grace Card has a press-out bauble, as you can see Diana showing you above – and these can add an extra special layer of meaning to a Christmas Tree. 


First 500 orders also receive a FREE tea-towel printed with a design created by Omera … 

Photo: ALWS / Daniel Bury 


… a young girl from Indonesia, whose drawing shows the impact on her family because of the love you shine into their lives through ALWS. 

(When you see the challenges caused by the disability in Omera’s hands, you will marvel at what she’s made for you!) 




The good news about Gifts of Grace is you don’t need that extra two hours of shopping on a Sunday morning we South Australians now have …

… ‘becozzee’ you can do your Christmas shopping from home (or wherever you are), right now, or any time you like – just click here! 


Of course, you can also use the Order Form in the printed catalogue …  

… or simply call 1300 763 407! 


Once you work through your Christ List, and make sure you haven’t forgotten anyone, it really helps our ALWS volunteers if you can order early 



… this also helps make sure your Grace Cards don’t get caught in mailing delays. 


As Aussies, we like to get in and lend a hand when we can … as we have seen in the wonderful community spirit of people of all ages filling sand-bags to protect other people’s homes from floods. 


Thank you for all you do to shine love into the lives of others through ALWS. Your kindness and generosity and Gifts of Grace are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: If you – or friends or family – have been affected by floods, please know our thoughts are with you. We will Express Post your Grace Cards and tea-towel if, and when, you are ready to order. Thank you! 

HOPE Spot #40: Tuesday 18 October 

Walk which way? 


What do you see when you look at this photo?

Photo: St Mark’s


Yes, they are paper dolls stuck on a wall …

… but what I see is this:

Photo: ALWS


I met these three children – Irakoze, Alongi, Badinabi – at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. They attend a primary school supported by people like you through ALWS …

… just like the refugee children who will step in to school because caring Aussies step out in ALWS Walk My Way.

The paper dolls are how St Mark’s Lutheran Primary School in Mt Barker SA are inspiring each other to help more children …

… and it’s working! Look at what they have achieved together:

Meanwhile, in Darwin, Good Shepherd Lutheran College did a Walk My Way between their two campuses at Howard Springs and Leanyer:



Photo: GSLC Darwin


No, that’s not a mistake (putting the same photo in twice) 

… Good Shepherd was so excited about the success of their first Walk My Way 

… and some students so disappointed at missing out 

… they did a second Walk!!!

Meanwhile at another Good Shepherd Lutheran College – this time on the Sunshine Coast – the Year 12 Spiritual Senior Leader Group showed you don’t need a big number to make a big difference:

Photo: GSLC Noosa


(I hope you’re smiling at the fact the ‘Sunshine’ Coast still did their Walk in the rain!)

Down south, in the Adelaide Hills, the Jones family aim to walk their 26 kms through October, and are already quarter way there …

Photo: Jones family


Mum, Michelle, says what’s incredible is seeing how the area you see above – the Lobethal Bushland Park – has recovered from the December 2019 bushfires that devastated this area. Life renewed – exactly as you do for people in need through ALWS!

Also doing Walk My Way is the Verrall Family:

Photo: Verrall Family


They shared why they are stepping out:


“We always look for ways to challenge our place of privilege here in Australia, and we came across the “Walk my Way”. 

We took up the challenge to do 26kms each over the month of September – so, in total, walking 104kms as a family, and then getting those around us to sponsor us.

We have our own challenge spreadsheet set up to make sure that we all (4 family members) complete this challenge in the month of Sept (for a busy family it is actually a good distance to walk to be challenged on!)

I feel it is important to share that so many people said what a great way to do the challenge and that they would definitely consider doing it too.”

Already, across Australia, Walkers have raised enough money to support 4,812 refugee children to go to school!

It’s not too late for you to be part of Walk My Way this year. Register HERE

You can go to the website and set up your own Walk wherever you are, whenever you want, however you want to do it – just click here.

If you’re anywhere near Victor Harbor in SA this Friday, 21 October, you can:

  • come down and join the Walk (with 500 students from Lutheran schools!)
  • Sign up to volunteer: to sizzle snags, be a road marshal, hand out drinks   
  • meet the Pastor Penguin waddle-walking the Causeway to Granite Island!!!!
  • Welcome Walkers at the Finish Line while you sip a Latte, or munch a Taco!

Whatever way you walk … or whichever way you help … you’re a blessing ALWayS!





HOPE Spot #39: Friday 14 October 

Lame Bora


HOPE Spot #38: Monday 10 October 

The bomb shelters you build in schools in Ukraine

I expect you heard Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ask Australia last week to increase our military support as Ukrainians defend their homeland.

Your ALWS action for the people of Ukraine is also increasing.

The generosity and kindness of people like you means last week ALWS was able to commit an extra $100,000 of aid. 

The total of our life-restoring help together is now $300,000

– SIX TIMES our March commitment of $50,000. THANK YOU!


A key part of your ALWS action now is building bomb shelters in schools inside Ukraine. 

You can see below the basement of the school at Dorogin. You support the LWF team to have toilets and amenities installed, to protect 100 students and teachers during air raids.



Bhoj Raj Khanal is the Interim Leader of the LWF team you support in Ukraine. He emailed me on Monday, and shared:

“The most urgent needs are repair of houses, 

renovation of schools including bomb shelters, 

protection-related community activities and preparing for winter.”

Bhoj explained that schools in Ukraine cannot open unless they have a bomb shelter. 

Your support through ALWS will help ensure children and young people can safely return to school after months of interrupted school and on-line learning.



Natalia Mykolaivna Greben, who you see above, is Deputy Director of the Dorogin school where a basement is being converted to a bomb shelter. Natalia recalls:

“I saw the Russian troops march through our community, 

and shoot at everything around.”

Natalia was forced to hide in her own basement for many days, then sneak out to try to find food for her and her elderly neighbours. On the last day of the occupation, the retreating soldiers shot at Natalia’s home, which burned down. 

“I lost everything on that last day.”



Your continuing ALWS action in Ukraine is even more critical now as winter approaches. 

Temperatures in Ukraine over Christmas can drop to minus 10. With so many buildings and so much infrastructure damaged by bombing, these freezing temperatures are a real threat.

Your work is focused in the Chernihiv region, between the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the Russion border. This area was under Russian occupation for three months, and it was only a fortnight ago that it was safe for your LWF team to enter and plan the school renovation work you support.

The plan is to gradually increase support to the Kharkiv and Sumy regions.






HOPE Spot #37: Tuesday 4 October 

Your Cash Food Vouchers arrive to help fight famine

There have been very few headlines about the famine looming in the Horn of Africa.


Photo: WFP


Four years of extreme drought have killed millions of livestock – a family’s wealth, and crops have been decimated as you can see in the photo above from Ethiopia.

In Somalia, Reuters news agency has declared:

‘Half a million Somali children face hunger

in the world’s worst famine this century’.

Through ALWS, you are already taking lifesaving action. 

In the photo below, you see the LWF (Lutheran World Federation team you support handing out Cash Food Vouchers in an Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Somalia.


Photo: LWF/A. Mahdi


The Cash Food Vouchers you provide through ALWS are vital to protect children from hunger.

That’s because wheat is a staple food here. 

Not only are locally-grown crops destroyed, but with 40% – 90% of supply coming from Ukraine and Russia, the shipping blockades and delays have hit hard.


One of the families you help with Cash Food Vouchers is Mr Abdullahi’s. He is a farmer in Somalia, and when drought killed 60 of the family’s cows and two donkeys, he despaired:

‘‘Our priority at the moment is to find food to eat.

In the process, we often find ourselves facing other risks 

– such as having to leave behind the weak amongst our families, 

including persons living with disability, children and women.

It’s so heartbreaking for us to be separated from our loved ones.”


Photo: LWF Somalia



HOPE Spot #36: Monday 12 September 

A life of service

I wrote this HOPE Spot the day before the passing of Queen Elizabeth 2.

I wondered whether I should change what I’d written …

… but when I hear the words used to describe Her Majesty – a life of service, commitment to duty, humility, genuine care for people – I realised I didn’t have to change a word.

          *                            *                            *                            *

Last week I attended the Memorial Service for Annette, a wonderful friend of ALWS.

Before her health intervened, Annette worked alongside her husband Paul, and friends Rex and Claire, to raise money to help people through ALWS.


They propagated plants. Tended them until they were beautiful and strong. Then got up super-early on Saturday mornings to sell the plants at Community Markets. Markets that were often wet, windy and wintry.



Between them, Paul, Annette (on right), Rex and Claire (on left) have graced our planet for more than 350 years.

Time for a rest, you might think.

Yet, meet them at one of their market stalls, and straightaway you’d see a smile as big and bright as a daisy in full flower!

At Annette’s memorial, we were all invited to have a candle lit from the Christ Light Candle, and then place it in a bed of sand.


Photos: ALWS


I found this simple act very moving. 

What a blessing you and I can be when we choose to shine the light of kindness into a world that so often feels so gloomy.


Those flickering candles made me think of you …

… as right now I’m putting together your new Gifts of Grace catalogue for this year. 

(You’ll receive it in second half of October.)

Our Gifts of Grace theme is shine*, and my hope is the joy you see in the smiles of the people you help, will also bring smiles to those who receive your Grace Cards,

You’ll see smiles like this …


Photo: ALWS – Daniel Bury


… as Filifo and Niaman’s family in Indonesia propagate and grow a Kitchen Garden, one of this year’s Gifts of Grace.

Just like Paul and Annette, (and Queen Elizabeth 2 and Prince Philip), Niaman and Filifo work as a partnership. Mum, Niaman, says:

“I love my garden. 

I grow chillies, beans, mustard leaves, corn, eggplant, tomatoes and water spinach – my favourite! 

My husband helps too. 

Filifo often hangs out the clothes, and does the sweeping around the house. He has this spirit within him and wants to help his wife with the family work. 

If other men laugh at him, he just laughs back. 

I feel so very happy, because when I want to use vegetables in my cooking, it is already there! We can have a variety of vegetables and not the same every day! 

I don’t need to go and buy, especially when we have not much money. 

The children get nutrition from the vegetables. 

I thank the people of Australia for helping my family to make the garden.”

If the world is feeling gloomy to you, or to people you care about …

… I pray the day is brightened by the light that a life of service shines, from people like you and Paul and Annette and Rex and Claire, to people like Filifo and Niaman.

You bloom a bright beautiful blessing ALWayS. Thank you!

* Our theme shine is inspired by the prophet Isaiah in the Bible: 

Give your food to the hungry

 and care for the homeless.

Then your light 

will shine in the dark.

Isaiah 58:10



HOPE Spot #35: Friday 19 August

Slow-roasted pulled pork, Olivia Newton John … and you


Last Saturday night, the blokes of our church put on a dinner for the ladies, and their friends from the community.

Our organiser and Chief Chef Pete came up with a menu that offered:

  • creamy pea & ham soup OR oxtail broth (complete with garlic croutons)
  • slow-roasted pulled pork OR shredded chicken (both with vegies & gravy)
  • chocolate brownie & berry jus OR scorched lemon tart (adorned by cream quenelles)

There were six of us blokes out back in aprons, and three up front in bow-ties.



(That’s me, fourth from right. Our Pastor, Kevin, is on the right in the Longest Lutheran Lunch apron, and Chief Chef Pete is on the left holding the bottle of ‘secret ingredient’!)

Photo: Addi Stark


Now, maybe there’s someone somewhere who might find something wrong with this ‘gender divide’…

… but it was a simple act of service, out of love, to make life better for others.

And judging by the laughter from the ladies’ tables, it was a night enjoyed by all.

There might not have been quite so much laughter in the kitchen when the gravy refused to thicken and then threatened to go lumpy … or when the vegetables seemed certain to run out … and the stream of dirty dishes to be washed seemed endless …

… yet, when the last dish was packed away, there was a quiet sense of satisfaction.

It made me think about you and your service to others through ALWS.

Instead of slow-roasting pulled pork … 

… you stir up vast vats of porridge and beans at Kakuma Refugee Camp to welcome new arrivals fleeing war and drought and hunger.



Instead of taking tickets at the door …

… you welcome people in countries like Nepal marginalised by their communities because of disability or gender or ethnic origin, with your smile telling them they are precious, and loved, and safe.




Instead of sinks full of dirty dishes …

… well, there are dishes and cutlery and saucepans and wash basins and detergent you provide to people made homeless by floods and other natural disasters in places like Tonga, Kenya and South Sudan.



Like our team of blokes last Saturday night, you offer your service humbly and graciously, simply to make life better for others … so, thank you!

Which brings me to Olivia Newton-John.

I’m not sure if you are a fan of her music …

… but all of us must admire her life of service to people diagnosed with cancer, even as she struggled herself with breast cancer.

I was privileged to be part of the team that worked with Olivia on raising the funds for her Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne. 

My job was to shape Olivia’s thoughts and words into messages for the public. In one big project, we organised dozens of celebrities to walk the Great Wall of China with Olivia, each celebrity seeking sponsors. (An early version of Walk My Way 😊)

What always struck me about Olivia was the way she looked past the cancer, to the person.

Olivia’s focus was on helping people have the best life they could, despite the challenges cancer had brought.

That’s what I see in you too.

You look past poverty, and disability, and age, and gender … and simply see a person you can support to have a better life. 

That’s a special gift. 

Just as precious as the dollars you donate. 

Your kindness and generosity bring love to life as you show the most vulnerable people in the world they’re not forgotten, that someone cares, that they are worthy of support.

That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!



PS: The pulled pork was sensational. Not that I sampled it more than 27 times, just to make sure it was OK. 😊 (One of the blokes at church makes his own spicy sweet rub, and it made the pork perfect.)



HOPE Spot #34: Monday 8 August

Your priceless gift


If you lined up all the students in Lutheran schools you helped learn about ALWS last year …

… at a socially-distanced 1.5 metres apart …

… you’d have a line more than 30 kilometres long! 




My son, AJ, was one of them. 

AJ is in Year 12 at Tatachilla Lutheran College (TLC), where he is Vice School Captain. Not only is this AJ’s last Semester at school … 

 … it’s my last Semester supporting one of my children to go to a Lutheran school.  


After 72 semesters! 


I started adding up my $ investment … 

 … but stopped, knowing a good education is a priceless gift. 

(I feel very blessed by the Lutheran education my parents made such sacrifices to give me, at Luther College, back in 1971 to 1976*.) 




Your work in Lutheran schools through ALWS is a vital part of inspiring more people to join you in taking action to care. 

It’s not just the students, but their families and teachers too.  

We are blessed that Lutheran schools share your passion for caring and service, and work in partnership with ALWS to inspire and equip their students to help others. 


We saw this last month at ACLE – the Australian Conference for Lutheran Education – where instead of providing gift bags to registrants, the organisers donated $10 per registration. 

Each person received two stars, each representing $5, and chose an ALWS Gifts of Grace they wanted to support … 



All these stars now represent teachers  

sharing your ALWS work in their classroom! 


You can see by the board above how teachers in Australia regard school as vital for the children in education-challenged countries like South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. 

That’s why School Kits will feature in this year’s ALWS Gifts of Grace (open for you in late October), when once again you can let your light shine … 



For now, thank you for all you do to bring education to children who would otherwise miss out because of poverty, disaster or displacement … 

 … including in this school you helped build at Ali Addeh Displaced Persons Camp in Djibouti. Check out the school’s motto below: 



Thank you for shining the light of education – you are a blessing ALWayS! 



* It was at Luther College in 1976 that I first worked to raise money to help people hurt by hunger and poverty. We closed down the school tuckshop (including the 10 cents long sausage rolls, my once-a-term special treat), and sold cups of boiled rice instead. The aim was to raise money to provide food to the hungry … encourage students to feel a little of what it’s like to have to go without … and demonstrate authentic Christian love through service. That was 47 years ago, and it’s still my mission in life! 😊 


All photos: ALWS 



HOPE Spot #33: Tuesday 2 August

Fire and flood…and the people you rescue


Here in Australia it seems we have had an endless run of natural disasters.

Floods. Bushfires. COVID.

The photo you see below is from a fire a fortnight ago in a community you support in Nepal through ALWS …



The fire destroyed 6 houses, and left 38 people homeless, including 19 children.

Tragically, the fire happened at a time when the community faces severe threat of flooding.

Ms Suhagi Bibi, who you see sitting in the photo, shared:


“It is very hard to live in open spaces during this rainy season, and to keep our children safe.”


This is where you stepped in. Through ALWS, you provided Dignity Kits for people who have lost everything:


· 3 pieces of bathing soap

· 1 piece of laundry soap

· 3 sanitary napkins

· 3 items of underwear

· toothbrush and toothpaste

· comb

· nail-cutter

· torch

· plastic bucket with cover

· 10 metres of rope


You also provided corrugated iron sheeting, so families could build temporary shelters:



Ms Bibi is grateful for your ALWS help, delivered through LWF in Nepal:


“The CGI sheeting we received enabled us to rebuild our house immediately after the fire, and we are very thankful for this support.

The Dignity Kits were also very useful for us during the transition to maintain our health and hygiene.”



The local government in this community is supporting your ALWS work by providing each homeless family with a gas stove and cylinder to do their cooking.

Your ALWS action is also supported by the Australian Government.

This includes providing flood rescue equipment, as you see below:



This Disaster Preparedness Kit includes:


· 125 metres of static rope

· 2 x searchlights

· 2 x Rescue Kits (chest harness, seat harness, auto-lock carabiner)

· 2 x Throw Bags


Your help is especially important in communities like this one because people already living in poverty have no way of recovering from disaster without support.

The fire, and its 38 victims, made no headlines in Australia.

If not for your kindness and commitment through ALWS, these people could have been forgotten.

You made sure they weren’t.


That’s why your generosity is so precious – a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!





HOPE Spot #32: Wednesday 20 July

Why a homemade sausage roll beats a $3.50 Bunnings sausage…


Photo: ALWS


As you can see, there are cakes and biscuits and fruit and plants and jams and preserves and, of course, the most important item of all – homemade sausage rolls!

While everything was very friendly-priced – no $3.50 Bunnings sausage here – the Trading Table raised more than $200*!

It was part of an Ecumenical Ladies Fellowship, put together by the ladies of the Mid North Lutheran Parish. I was invited to share about the work they (and you) do through ALWS in places like Ukraine and Ethiopia.

Afterwards, it struck me that the photo you see above is a lot like the photo you see below:


Photo: LWF/Albin Hibbert


The produce on the table may be a little different …

… but the smile of the lady at Nyagati Railway Station serving refugees newly arrived from Ukraine is the same, don’t you think!

Whether we are in Clare at a Trading Table, or on the border of Ukraine at an Emergency Centre, each of us has something to give. Time. Money. Skills.

What’s amazing is that when we give, we are also given – a joy we find nowhere else.


This week we have mailed out ALWS Annual Donation Statements for FY 21/22. That shows $s. With the Statement, there’s a Report Back on what you have achieved for others through ALWS in the last 6 months. That shows the people.

On behalf of those people, I say thank you for your kindness and generosity …

… and pray you are blessed with the same beaming smile of service you see in the ladies of Clare and on the border of Ukraine

… (the same sauce-smeared smile I get from home-made sausage rolls – and Bunnings sausages, even at $3.50)!



PS: If you’d like an ALWS speaker to visit,  call 1300 763 407 or email Sneak-peek your Report Back here and keep an eye out for your Annual Donation Statement! Thank you! 😊


* The Trading table proceeds was part of $1307 donated by the 43 people who attend the Fellowship Morning. Thank you Mid North!

HOPE Spot #31: Monday 11 July

What floods cannot drown

Our hearts go out to the people of NSW, facing floods yet again.

For many, this is the fourth time they have seen their homes and livelihoods and hopes washed away. The people of Queensland have suffered too.

As Australia rallies to support our community, I offer you 8 words from my Bible reading this morning:

Love cannot be drowned
by oceans or floods.

Song of Solomon 8:7a


When I think of what people like you do for others through ALWS…

… despite the ‘floods’ of challenges that threaten to overwhelm us

… I see the power of your love making life better for others.



Just last week, thanks to your kindness and compassion, ALWS was able to rush $30,000 worth of your help to the people of Bangladesh as they faced their own floods.


You provide Emergency Family Food Packs to 1,150 of the most vulnerable families.

You focus on families in danger of being forgotten:

  • displaced by flood
  • no regular income
  • female-headed families (including widows)
  • people with disabilities
  • pregnant or lactating mothers
  • elderly people
  • socially excluded people

Your help is delivered by ALWS partner RDRS Bangladesh.

Your Emergency Family Food Packs contain:

  • 10kg rice
  • 1kg lentils
  • Kg soyabean oil
  • 2kg potatoes
  • 2kg salt
  • 1kg sugar
  • 5 packets Oral Rehydration Salts
  • 1kg detergent powder
  • 1 pack of sanitary napkins

The cost per pack is $24 … but the impact for a family who has lost everything – priceless!

Photos: RDRS Bangladesh



I don’t know if you follow ‘real’ football (AFL – go Pies!) …

… but the June Collingwood vs Melbourne game features the ‘Big Freeze’. Celebrities slip down a slide into a pool of ice water, to raise money to fight Motor Neurone Disease.

The people of St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Loxton SA did their own ‘Big Freeze’ to raise money for the village in Cambodia they partner through ALWS.

Instead of a pool of ice water …


… they jumped into the River Murray and floated downstream. As you can see, even the water temperature – 11 degrees – could not ‘dampen’ their enthusiasm!

This is the kind of love that floods cannot drown.

The kind of love that sacrifices for others.

The love you bring to life through ALWS.

Thank you – you are a blessing ALWayS!


HOPE Spot #30: Thursday 30 June

Playing piano to change a child’s world

You are likely much more musical than me.

(I was a teenager in the 70s, and my music tastes have never moved on, much to my children’s disgust!)

So, you might understand what the music chart below means. What might surprise you is how an enterprising music teacher from Victoria is using this Circle of Fifths Chart …

… to help child victims of war in Ethiopia through ALWS.


Rachel Cheesman is teaching her students to play key signatures and scales on the piano.

Rachel had the idea that for every scale the students could play, they collected a special donation for the ALWS Children of War Appeal.

(You can see the students’ names in coloured texta on the chart.)


The students practiced hard, made posters, even sold cookies.

Last Friday, they came together to play around the whole Circle of Fifths. (Whatever that means!)

Rachel says it was a real treat to see the children perform with technical awareness, and show their developing knowledge…

… and even more exciting was seeing the amount they raised to help children their own age, who had been hurt by war – $834!!!


What a brilliant hard-working effort from the students, and their sponsors …

… and their passionate, caring, creative music teacher!


Rachel explains why she came up with the idea:

 “When we hear of tragedy happening around the world, we can feel helpless and far away.

 But we can find comfort and hope through action.

 Music can be a useful tool in many ways!”


Today is EOFY – End of Financial Year – and there will be businesses everywhere urging you to get a bargain for yourself.

What Rachel and her students show us is that the best bargain comes not from what we get … but what we give.

Thank you for all you give to others through ALWS. You are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: ALWS 21/22 Annual Donation Statements will be posted Monday 18 July, to help you claim any tax benefit you are due. It includes a report back on what you have achieved for others through ALWS so far this year. You can also explore the full ALWS Annual Report for 2021 here. Thank you!

HOPE Spot #29: Monday 27 June

5 minutes for 5 moments for your 5:1 Burundi

I first went to Burundi nearly 15 years ago.

To my shame, I didn’t even know where it was. Let alone understand the pain the people suffered as one of the five least-developed countries in the world.

I saw horrors that I won’t share here …

… but I was also blessed with moments that will live with me forever.

Can I take 5 of your minutes to share them with you too?


Moment 1: What are you building?

Each Saturday morning in Burundi, the people stop whatever they are doing and give a morning’s work to a community project. Young and old. Men and women. Rich and poor. City and country.

The people of Burundi are renowned for making mud bricks.

We passed through one little village, just a handful of houses, and I saw a group of people working in a field with a large pile of bricks.

I asked what they were building …

… they replied: “A university.”


Moment 2: Why are you still here?

Through ALWS, you work in the poorest provinces of Burundi – Cankuzo and Ruyigi, on the eastern border with Tanzania.

When I went there, LWF – Lutheran World Federation, known in Burundi as FLM (Federacione Lutheran Mondiale) – was the only aid agency working there.

I asked why, and was told there had been violence in the streets, leftover battles from tribal conflicts. An aid worker’s body had been left on a road.

All the other aid agencies left.

Your Lutheran-supported team stayed.


Moment 3: Why do you sing?

One Sunday morning, I went to church.

The church building was in the middle of a slum. It had no walls apart from some UNHCR plastic. Dirt floor. The chairs a motley collection scavenged from anywhere.

We were the only white faces in a crowd of hundreds packed body to body.

Many people were barefoot.

Some wore clothes so old they barely held together.

Yet when worship started it seemed the roof would lift.

There was a ladies’ choir. A younger ladies choir. A children’s choir. A mixed choir. A drummer hammering out ‘a joyful noise’ on a cracked and clattery old drum. A keyboardist all hip-hop and elbows.

Joy poured out of the people. Too much joy just for song. Dancing. Clapping. Ululating.

A basket was set up at the front of the church. One by one people came out and left an offering. The poorest of the poor, yet each had something to give.

After four hours, the worship ended.

We tumbled outside … where we were gathered up into a large circle, all holding hands, so the lady Pastor could pray for us as went back into our worlds.

My hand was taken by an lady, one of the Batwa tribe (formerly known as pygmy). The Batwa are landless, homeless, shockingly poor people, mistreated and pushed to the edge of the community.

When the prayer ended, the lady spoke to me through the translator.

She said, “I am sorry our church today went so long. Normally we finish in three hours.”

I asked why church went so long.

She smiled and said, “There is so much to thank God for.”


Moment 4: What is this?

Burundi has a trade in carved wooden crucifixes.

I travelled with Pastor Peter who bought a bagful of tiny crucifixes, one for each member of his congregation back home.

He also had one very large crucifix, more than a metre long.

At the raggedy airport, a man in uniform and sunglasses sat at a desk with a hand-scrawled sign saying CUSTOMS.

He took one look at Peter’s crucifix and said in a stern voice: “What is this?”

Pastor Peter, a little worried, but also always on the lookout for a chance to witness to his faith, declared in a proud voice: “This is Jesus.”

Sunglasses man listened. Was quiet. Then slowly shook his head. “No, this is not Jesus.”

Pastor Peter got excited. A crowd had gathered. A sermon beckoned.

Sunglasses man listened for a while, then put up his hand.


Peter paused mid-proclamation.

I sighed, fearful we may not get our passports stamped to get home.

Sunglasses man said again: “No, this is not Jesus.”


“The Jesus I know, He is alive!”


Moment 5: Why don’t you eat?

We stopped for lunch on a back road in the middle of nowhere.

A lady at the hostel had made us an egg and salad sandwich.

I was hungry, and just about to hoe in, when I saw a young boy on the side of the road.

He was dressed in faling-apart clothes. Ribs pressed through his skin. His eyes were faraway.

I gave the boy my sandwich.

But he just held it. Didn’t take a bite, even though he was days hungrier than me.

I asked the translator why the boy didn’t eat.

The boy said: “I will share this with my family.”



Five years ago it was feared the Lutheran-supported program in Burundi would have to close down.

The Government was planning new laws that threatened the work of aid agencies.

There was conflict and confusion in the streets.

Donor countries pulled out.

The world looked away.

Here at ALWS, we had to decide what to do. We had long discussions. Times of prayer. We looked at lots of papers. Then we looked at you.

People like you are kind and generous and faithful in your caring.

The people of Burundi are brave and hard-working and holding on to hope.

So, stepping out in faith …

… instead of pulling out of Burundi, we increased our ALWS commitment, trusting in you.

God has blessed that step of faith, working through people like you.

Today …

… the Australian Government is matching 5:1 your ALWS support for Burundi

… other countries have committed to helping

… your LWF program is growing and strong.

Of course, there are still challenges, and no one can say for certain what lies ahead …

… but, this coming year 2,571 of the poorest families in Burundi will receive your ALWS care. Their lives will be better because of people like you.

That’s momentous.

These are the moments that matter. Thank you.


PS: You are still welcome to use the new 5:1 Government Grant to help the people of Burundi. Your donation is tax-deductible. If you donate by 5pm this Thursday 30 June, you can claim your tax benefit in this financial year. If you have any questions about your ALWS action, simply call: 1300 763 407. Thank you!



How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care

Your donation supports the ALWS program in Burundi, aiming to support 2,571 of the most vulnerable families. Your donation is matched 5:1 with an Australian Government Grant, as follows:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding
from the Australian Government to reach more people.
ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5
received from the Australian government.
Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in the Burundi project, your donation will be used in other ALWS-supported development projects.

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407


Your donation is used carefully

In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 years average is 15.4%.

A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407


Your privacy is important to us

ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is the Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #28: Tuesday 21 June

Your 5:1 basketful of goodness in Burundi

Do you have 3 minutes to meet 3 farmers? 

Or watch on vimeo here

Jacqueline, Perina and Gisela will show you how your 5:1 donation for farm families facing a hunger crisis in Burundi can be life-transforming.



When Jacqueline learned how to mix fertiliser and animal manure to improve her harvest yield, her life changed:

“Now I harvest a lot from small land.

I eat 3 times a day, whereas before I used to eat once a day.”

Meet Jacqueline here




Through ALWS, and the 5:1 Grant from the Australian Government, you support people to learn new income-generating activities.

Perina took up basket-weaving, alongside her farming.

She also joined a Village Savings and Loan Group.

Perina worked hard, and saved hard, and was able to buy a pig and a bicycle. She says:

“I appreciate this project because it makes me valuable.”





Gisela sums up the help you give people like her through ALWS very simply:

“Before this project, I had a joyless life.

I was always wondering how I will survive.

LWF taught me how to read and write.

As you can see, I have written on my basket: ‘God is good.’ ”




Take 3 minutes now to meet these brave, hard-working farm ladies face to face, and see the hope you give. Watch video

Now multiply out their success to the 2,571 families ALWS aims to support using the new 5:1 Government Grant in Burundi over the next 12 months!

If you have already used the 5:1 grant – thank you!

If not, donate 5:1 by 30 June to claim your tax benefit in this financial year.

From ‘a joyless life’ …

… through a project that ‘makes me valuable’

… to where ‘I eat 3 times a day’

… yes indeed, as Gisela says, ‘God is good’.


Thank you for the basketful of goodness you bring to the families of people like Jacqueline, Perina and Gisela in Burundi.

Your kindness and compassion show them they are not forgotten.

That is why you are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: The new 5:1 Government Grant is still available for you to support families in Burundi, and help children survive the looming hunger crisis. Donate 5:1 here. Your impact is increased FIVE TIMES, and your donation is tax-deductible. Donate by 5pm Thursday 30 June to claim your tax benefit in this financial year. Watch inspiring 3 minute video here. Thank you!

Images & Video: LWF Burundi



How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care

Your donation supports the ALWS program in Burundi, aiming to support 2,571 of the most vulnerable families. Your donation is matched 5:1 with an Australian Government Grant, as follows:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding
from the Australian Government to reach more people.
ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5
received from the Australian government.
Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in the Burundi project, your donation will be used in other ALWS-supported development projects.

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407


Your donation is used carefully

In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 years average is 15.4%.

A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407


Your privacy is important to us

ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is the Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #27: Friday 10 June

Your kindness to children, the forgotten victims of war

Last Sunday I jumped in the car and drove 730 kilometres to see my 12 weeks old granddaughter Maya.

36 hours later I drove 730 kilometres home again.

Maya melts my heart with every chuckle and cuddle, and a single moment with her is worth every hour of that drive.

I feel so blessed to be both a Dad and a Grandpa.

And PoPo for two other granddaughters.

That’s why my heart breaks and my stomach knots and my fists clench when I see innocent children hurt by war.

Ukraine is in the headlines… and the wars the world has forgotten – Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Myanmar.

What lifts my spirits is the kindness and compassion of people like you, reaching out in humble generosity to help the people of Ukraine and the child victims of other wars.

You do so much life-saving work, I can’t fit it all in one post 😊.

So, just click on the links below to see more of what you are doing through ALWS in some of the toughest places on earth.

I especially urge you to click on the Ethiopia link,
to read the story from Sophie Gebrayes on the front line.

I will talk to you again at the bottom of this HOPE Spot …


Photo: LWF Ethiopia


War broke out in Ethiopia on 4 November 2020, with conflict between the Tigray region and the Ethiopian Government. Up to 495,000 people were internally displaced in Tigray. The ongoing impact of COVID, drought and locust plagues threaten a hunger crisis for children, with children showing visible signs of wasting. Sophie Gebrayes, leading the LWF team you support, reports: “The thing that strikes you are the number of mothers with babies and toddlers in back-carriers.”

GOOD NEWS: 46,789 people reached with support for food security and nutrition, Multi-Purpose Cash Grants, water and sanitation and hygiene.   READ MORE


Photo: ALWS / Magda Vogt


A new study reports the number of children out of school has DOUBLED in the last two years. Since the military coup, 260 schools have suffered attacks, and children are scared to return. Through ALWS, you support Temporary Learning Spaces in 8 Displaced Persons Camps. 7 year old Zaw Ri Na Ha Tu is a student you support, as is her volunteer teacher you see here. Zaw says: “My favourite subjects are English and Maths. I am in Grade 2. I want to be a Teacher so I can help students.” 

GOOD NEWS: In Displaced Persons Camps, you support 9,737 children from Kindergarten to Grade 4 to go to school.   READ MORE



Fouzia is 14. She says life in Afghanistan was peaceful until her mum died two years ago. Fouzia went to live with her aunt and uncle. When the humanitarian crisis happened, they fled to Pakistan. Here the family received a Multipurpose Grant from the partner delivering your ALWS support in Afghanistan. Fouzia says: “My aunt bought food items so that we have sufficient meals every day as we barely had enough food for all of us in the family. She also bought my medicines for my migraines.”

GOOD NEWS: 525 families reached with Multi-Purpose Cash Grants   READ MORE


Photo: LWF


As the war in Ukraine continues, women and children flee to safety in neighbouring countries like Poland. Through ALWS, and our partner LWF, you support Lutheran churches to welcome and care for these refugees. The aim is to provide care to 60,000 people with cash grants to buy essentials. The LWF centres you support in Poland also provide counselling for children experiencing post-traumatic stress, and referral services for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

GOOD NEWS: Anglican Overseas Aid and Emergency Action Alliance have added more than $80,000 to your ALWS support for people of Ukraine.  READ MORE


Photo: LWF Burundi


The war in Ukraine has disrupted grain exports to Africa. These children in Burundi lost their mother to a heart attack a year ago. Now, Dad Leonidas does his best to support his four children. But no matter how hard he works, he cannot afford for the children to go to school. Often there is not even enough food. Through ALWS, you train Leonidas in modern farming methods. He is looking forward to teaching his new skills to others, and having his children return to school.

GOOD NEWS: 5:1 Australian Government Grant increases your impact to help 2,571 families increase local food production.   READ MORE    DONATE 5:1       



Thank you for all you do through ALWS to help child victims of war.

My prayer is your heart will be filled with joy at the hope your hands-on help brings to children and families in these dangerous places, especially to those who feel forgotten..

Truly, you are living out the verse from the Bible that inspires us here at ALWS:

Don’t forget those who are suffering,
but imagine you are there with them.
Hebrews 13:3b (CEV)

Even though you are far more than 730 kilometres away, you are there with them.

Thank you for being a blessing ALWayS!


PS: The new 5:1 Government Grant is still available for you to support families in Burundi, and help children survive the looming hunger crisis. Donate 5:1 here. Your impact is increased FIVE TIMES, and your donation is tax-deductible. Donate by 5pm Thursday 30 June to claim your tax benefit in this financial year. Thank you!



How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care

Your donation supports the ALWS program in Burundi, aiming to support 2,571 of the most vulnerable families. Your donation is matched 5:1 with an Australian Government Grant, as follows:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding
from the Australian Government to reach more people.
ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5
received from the Australian government.
Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in the Burundi project, your donation will be used in other ALWS-supported development projects.

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407


Your donation is used carefully

In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 years average is 15.4%.

A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407


Your privacy is important to us

ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is the Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #26: Monday 6 June

13 x 5 x 705 =

I’m not sure if you recall …

… but each 2022 ALWS Supporter Survey sent back by 13 May attracted a $5 donation from a Lutheran couple in Adelaide.

We were overwhelmed with 705 surveys by that date – and received a $3,525 donation!

(If you didn’t get to complete your Survey, no worries. You can still do it here. It will take you around 5 minutes. I’m really keen to hear your thoughts and ideas. If you can complete by this Friday 10 June, your survey will qualify for the $5 donation too!)



As I read through the 2022 ALWS Supporter Surveys, over and over people said they didn’t want any praise or fuss made about them.

They just wanted to get on with quietly doing what they can, when they can, as God had blessed them to bless. Like Shirley, who wrote:

“Due to my life and health,
my finances are very limited.

Therefore, I can only give when possible.

I would love to do more if I could.”

What I say to Shirley, and to you, is that whatever you do is a blessing.



Another thought struck me from the Supporter Surveys …

… the humble way you help others through ALWS is exactly how Jesus explained we should bring love to life:

“When you do something for someone else,
don’t call attention to yourself…

When you help someone out,
don’t think about how it looks.

Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively.”

from Matthew 6: 2 – 4 (The Message)

That’s you! Thank you!

(And sorry Nike, Jesus beat you to ‘Just do it’! 😊)



Just a reminder that the new 5:1 Government Grant is open now to help families in Burundi, in danger from poverty …

… and facing the new threat of hunger caused by the war in Ukraine disrupting grain and fertiliser suppliers, pushing up prices beyond what families can afford.


Your 5:1 donation will focus on increasing local food production for these families in danger of being forgotten. You help provide:

  • goats, chickens and cows for food, extra income and manure for fertiliser
  • training in modern farming methods
  • kitchen gardens
  • farm tools: hoes, wheelbarrows and shovels


Our aim is to support 2,571 families, at an average investment of $29 per person. If you feel called to use the 5:1 Grant, simply donate here.

Thank you for always thinking of others.

I don’t need a survey to tell me your kindness and generosity – it’s proven. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: If you didn’t get to complete your 2022 ALWS Supporter Survey, it’s easy and quick to do it here. Please do so by this Friday 10 June to attract the $5 donation for each survey completed. Thank you!


How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care

Your donation supports the ALWS program in Burundi, aiming to support 2,571 of the most vulnerable families. Your donation is matched 5:1 with an Australian Government Grant, as follows:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding
from the Australian Government to reach more people.
ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5
received from the Australian government.
Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in the Burundi project, your donation will be used in other ALWS-supported development projects.

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407


Your donation is used carefully

In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 years average is 15.4%.

A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407


Your privacy is important to us

ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is the Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #25: Wednesday 1 June

New 5:1 Matching Grant you can use!

I’ve got good news for you!

In my HOPE Spot last week, I flagged a new 5:1 Grant from the Australian Government for ALWS.

What’s exciting is the Government has approved a 12.2% increase in ANCP* 5:1 grants for ALWS!

This is directly due to your hard work and generosity, as I’ll explain at the bottom of this email.

Speaking of people who work hard, let me introduce you to Sylvie, a young mum in Burundi. Sylvie’s is one of 2,571 families you can using the new 5:1 Grant.  Donate 5:1 now!



Sylvie is a young woman of faith and courage.

When you see her smile, it’s hard to believe she lives extreme poverty.

Her country, Burundi, is one of the five least-developed countries in the world …

… and her life is made even more challenging by the fact she has a severe disability – her foot is twisted almost backwards.

No matter how hard Sylvie works, the family is so poor the children had to stop going to school. Many days there is little to eat.

That’s where you can step in with the new 5:1 Government Grant.

Donate 5:1 NOW to help a family like Sylvie’s.



A new danger facing families like Sylvie’s is a hunger crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. If you’ve been following the news reports, you’ll know:

  • Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s largest exporters of grain
  • many countries in Africa rely on this grain to feed their people
  • the war has disrupted grain harvest and pushed up prices
  • shipping routes have been blockaded
  • Russia and Ukraine also manufacture and supply fertiliser
  • supplies are cut, and prices increased
  • families who can’t afford fertiliser see their crop yield go down

This is the hidden tragedy faced by countries like Burundi.

 The danger is vulnerable families like Sylvie’s will be forgotten by the world.



Thanks to people like you, ALWS has been able to increase our commitment to help the people of Ukraine from $50,000 to more than $200,000 – thank you!

Now, as the war in Ukraine threatens a hunger crisis in Africa, ALWS is responding by increasing your support for local food production.

Your 5:1 life-protecting action in Burundi can:

  • set up agricultural groups to teach modern farming methods
  • supply livestock to diversify family income sources …

    … and provide extra food:

    • cows for milk
    • chickens for eggs
    • goats for meat
  • show how animal manure can produce no-cost fertiliser to increase yield
  • grow kitchen gardens for vegetables
  • introduce improved seed varieties like beans and maize + training in seed multiplication and harvest conservation
  • equip farmers with vital tools like wheelbarrows, hoes and shovels


As you can see, this Food Production Plan relies on the hard work of the people you support with your 5:1 donation. Your help is a hand-up, not a hand-out.

(Look at the joy the chickens you supply bring Sylvie’s son! More photos here.)



Because the new 5:1 Government Grant is so vital to protect families from hunger, I have snail-mailed ALWS supporters with all the details. Keep an eye out for this pack:


Our aim is to support 2,571 families like Sylvie’s.

This is a step of faith, but a step taken with confidence, knowing:

  • the proven kindness and generosity of people like you
  • the family you help will work hard to help themselves
  • the matching grant increases your impact FIVE TIMES

Donate 5:1 NOW!


The result of our work together is that someone like Sylvie can dare to dream:

“I dream of being able to build a decent home so my children and I can live in dignity.

I want us to be self-sufficient in nutrition.

 If these two needs can be met, I can find the strength to work harder so my children can stay in school.”


You are welcome to use the 5:1 Grant to support other families in Burundi to overcome poverty and protect themselves from the hunger crisis that threatens.

On a practical level, your 5:1 donation is tax-deductible. If you donate by Thursday 30 June, you can claim any tax benefit this financial year.

Thank you for everything you already do to bring hope to vulnerable people, in danger of being forgotten.

As I said to you in last week’s HOPE Spot, you ‘make ordinary people feel special’. I think you can see in Sylvie’s and her son’s smiles the joy being made to ‘feel special’ brings.

That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS! Thank you!


Photos: ALWS



The new 5:1 Grant is part of the Australian Government’s ANCP Program – Australian NGO Cooperation Program. (NGO = Non-Government Organisation) 

The official wording the Australian Government uses to describe these grants is:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding
from the Australian Government to reach more people.
ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5
received from the Australian government.
Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

What it means for you and me is:

$          +         $$$$$       =         $$$$$$

Your gift                    Government Grant                            Your total help!


The total the Australian Government has offered to ALWS for FY 22/23 is $2,084,567.

This is a 12.2% increase on the current financial year – a tribute to the generosity of people like you …

… because the amount ALWS receives is based on a formula that takes into account the public donations (you) ALWS received compared to what other agencies have achieved.

So, thank you – and the Australian Government!



How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care

Your donation supports the ALWS program in Burundi, aiming to support 2,571 of the most vulnerable families. Your donation is matched 5:1 with an Australian Government Grant, as follows:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding
from the Australian Government to reach more people.
ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5
received from the Australian government.
Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in the Burundi project, your donation will be used in other ALWS-supported development projects.

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407


Your donation is used carefully

In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 years average is 15.4%.

A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407


Your privacy is important to us

ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is the Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871



HOPE Spot #24: Friday 27 May

When what is ordinary is special

Two weeks ago I was driving through central Victoria, and something happened that made me think of you.

My wife Julie and I were doing a road trip.

We like to get off the main highways and explore old towns – Julie for cheap and crazy clothes in Op Shops, me for sausage rolls in bakeries.

Anyway, we came to a town from gold rush days that looked like life had passed it by. A bit battered and grey and worn-out. (No, that’s not what made me think of you!!! 😊)

I spotted both a bakery and what looked like an Op Shop.

However, the ‘Op Shop’ was something completely different.

Inside were racks of women’s clothes. But not just any old clothes – beautifully-tailored one-off high-end fashion labels. Pre-loved, but still in perfect condition.

Normally these clothes would cost hundreds of dollars, but here they were $10 to $20!

It took me about 20 seconds to find 20 things for Julie to try on, meaning a two hour wait for me.


And this is where I get to you. 

We asked the lady running the store why she had all these amazing clothes at such amazing prices in such an out-of-the-way place.

She said:

“I want to make ordinary people feel special.”


That’s exactly what you do through ALWS. 

The ‘dress’ you provide to the ‘ordinary people’ you help may be a goat in Burundi, a school kit in Myanmar, a Farmer Field School in South Sudan …

… but whatever practical aid you give, you also make the person you help ‘feel special’.

Your kindness and generosity tell them that someone cares about them. That they haven’t been forgotten. That they are precious.

That’s why you see smiles like this:

Photo: ALWS/LWF Burundi


This is Sylvie and her family.

Sylvie has a disability (a twisted foot) and her family live in one of the poorest villages in Burundi, one of the 5 least-developed countries in the world.

Through ALWS, you support Sylvie to receive training in modern farming methods, plus help to buy chickens and feed to start a little business.

Sylvie told us your encouragement gives her the strength to work harder, so she can feed her children and send them to school.

While the family’s clothes are very different to those in the dress shop we found, I think you can see from the smiles how special you make Sylvie’s whole family feel.

As Julie tried on dress number 17, I realised something else too.

What you do for families like Sylvie’s is exactly what Jesus did as He reached out to people living in poverty and feeling forgotten.

For me as a Christian, I see Jesus helping people with their physical needs …

… and by bringing His love to their life, showing them they are special. They go away smiling and filled with new hope for life!

Which brings me to one last thought.

As we left the dress shop, we asked the lady why she did what she did. She simply smiled and said:

“It makes me happy.”

I pray that what you do through ALWS to ‘make ordinary people feel special’ makes you happy too!



PS: Next week I’ll tell you about a new 5:1 Government Grant that can increase your ALWS help to families in Burundi FIVE TIMES, to make many more smiles like Sylvie’s family’s. You can take a sneak peek here.

PPS: If you want to know the town to find that dress shop, just reply to this email! (NB: The sausage rolls at the bakery are good too!) 😊

HOPE Spot #23: Wednesday 11 May

You and Ukraine – a step of faith becomes a leap!

The war in Ukraine continues to shock the world.

Each day brings more stories that break your heart.

At the same time, stories of courage and kindness inspire us.

You’ll see both those sides of the war in the story of the children in the photo, which I will share with you in a moment.

First, let me talk about you.

Within days of the tanks rolling in to Ukraine, churches in countries on the border set up to welcome refugees, and provide food, shelter and comfort.

You were, and are, part of that effort through our ALWS partner LWF supporting Lutheran churches in Romania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia …

… and through the ACT Alliance of churches of many denominations.

ALWS stepped out in faith, trusting in the generosity of people like you, and committed $50,000 to the Ukraine response.

Your generosity has been overwhelming, and enabled ALWS to DOUBLE our original commitment!



… that total amount has DOUBLED AGAIN, thanks to funds received by ALWS through the Emergency Action Alliance, supported by the Australian Government and a concert by Ed Sheeran broadcast on the ABC.



… the ALWS family has matched all of that with the same generosity for victims of wars the world has forgotten, in places like Afghanistan and Myanmar!


When you meet Irina, and hear her story, you can see straightaway how important your help is:

“During the first days of the war we tried to tell the children it was thunder.

But when the active bombing started, and the missiles fell near the house, the children started screaming, and didn’t want to leave the shelter.”


The ‘shelter’ Irina describes is not what you think. Her house did not have a basement, so she built a ‘shelter’ out of sofas and furniture.

“They ate there. They went to the toilet there. They were really very, very scared. That is why I realised that there was no time to wait, and it was time to evacuate somewhere.”


Irina’s parents didn’t want to leave, even when a bomb exploded in their neighbourhood. So, Irina and the children started walking on their own. That’s when the shelling started even closer.

“We saw a convoy of cars with white flags passing. One car had three spare places, so we decided to go with them. We did not know where it was going. There was no time to decide.”


That car run out of fuel in a village only a few kilometres away. Irina and the children stayed there for five days until the Russian army came, and they had to flee again. They found a train, but there were 12 people for every seat. Irina’s children (aged 5 and 8) slept on the floor.

Finally, the little family reached safety in a community shelter, which is where the kind of help you support through ALWS is being provided by front-line teams and volunteers from the ACT Alliance of churches.


You can see below the room that 12 people share:

It’s crowded, but it’s safe. Irina says:

“We receive meals three times a day. It’s not the same food as at home. When we ask for something, people try to give us what we need. I understand that it is difficult to feed one hundred people.”


Irina is a trained nurse, and longs to be able to go home to join her husband, her sister and her parents:

“If, in five minutes, someone calls me and tells me the Ukrainian flag is flying in the cities, I will be at the train station in half an hour.”


But for now, her priority is to keep the children safe, as they huddle together in the tiny space that is ‘home’ for now …

… at least here it is safe for the children to play outside

… and that’s thanks to the kindness and generosity of people like who reach out to help others in their time of need.


Thank you – you are a blessing ALWayS!



PS: The war in Europe is now starting to impact the Horn of Africa. Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of grain to Africa, and the disruption to food supplies threatens a hunger crisis in countries where you work through ALWS – Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan. Our plan is to now increase support for local food production. In Burundi this will include training for farmers, livestock like goats and chickens, Harvest Stores. I will keep you updated over the next few weeks about what you can do to help, and a 5:1 Australian Government Grant that will increase your impact. Thank you again!


Photos: ACT Alliance / HIA: Fekete Dániel
Interview: Hungarian Interchurch Aid

HOPE Spot #22: Wednesday 4 May

Fighting fraud so your donations ‘get there’

A colleague at ALWS ‘dared’ me to write this HOPE Spot for you.

She thought the subject ‘Fighting Fraud’ might be too boring to interest you.

I took on the challenge …

… because what I hear when I visit churches, and read emails from supporters, is that people like you want to know your donations to ALWS ‘get there’. (As do I!)

Through ALWS, you work in some very challenging places, where government systems are still developing, and the way things work can be different to what we expect in Australia.

That’s why training staff to fight fraud is critical.

So, here goes.

NB: If you’re not interested in making sure your money ‘gets there’, you can stop reading now 😊


Pennies in PNG

As you know, ALWS is accredited by the Australian Government. This requires ALWS to meet the highest standards of audit and accountability.

In 2019, the Australian Government granted ALWS $900,895 to support the aid work of the Lutheran Church in PNG.

It was found an amount of $1,500 could not be properly accounted for. This is 0.2% – 1/500th.

A full investigation was undertaken, and it was finally found that the amount unaccounted for was $22. That is: 0.002%.

You might wonder about the value of that investigation into ‘pennies’ …

… but it unlocked new ways to improve practices that take into account local situations

… plus showed partners again how seriously ALWS takes the care of funds entrusted to us.

Still with me? Good on you 😊

Let me take you now to Nepal …


52+ in Nepal

During April, you supported a 3-day training workshop in Nepal with the catchy title:

Training on Fighting Fraud in NGOs, Financial Management and Procurement Management.


The training was run by our ALWS partner LWF Nepal, supported by the Australian Government and ALWS … and attracted 52 participants, with 75% from the local partners delivering your ALWS aid at grassroots level.

I won’t go through the full curriculum with you, but the aims were:

  1. enhance knowledge and capacity to fight fraud
  2. have sound financial management systems
  3. ensure efficient procurement

Ms Asha Wod, a Finance Officer from a front-line partner delivering your aid, declared:

“We learned many useful things about financial documentation and procurement management … which we can use on a day-to-day basis in our work.

I would like to thank LWF Nepal and the trainers for making us clear on these subjects.

I assure you that what we have learned from this training we will share with our friends and colleagues in our respective organisations.”


Pastor Joseph Soren is Chairperson of the Lutheran Church Welfare Society, that also helps deliver your ALWS aid in Nepal. Pastor Joseph reflected:

“We have been asking for this training for a long time to help us develop proper policies and enhance our capacity … for financial and procurement management.

I do believe we must create the opportunity, and not just run after it.

… and we are hopeful and committed to improve our systems and documents with the learnings from this training.”


This is all part of your action through ALWS.

I trust these two examples show you how committed ALWS is to make sure your donations ‘get there’ and are used efficiently and effectively to transform lives.

If you have any questions, please ask!

Just email or call 1300 763 407

Thank you for all you do to help people through ALWS …

… including the remote villages of PNG and far-off communities in Nepal, where too often people who are the most vulnerable can be forgotten by the world.

You are a blessing ALWayS!



PS: This is a little cheeky, but seeing you made it this far in today’s HOPE Spot, can you send me a message – even just a 😊 – so I can show my colleague who challenged me to write about this subject for you! Thank you!


HOPE Spot #21: Friday 29 April

What COVID taught me…

A couple weeks back, our family came down with COVID.

For the boys, it was a day of symptoms and then 6 days of movies in bed. My wife, Julie, was knocked around a fair bit. For me, mostly weariness.

I don’t know if you’ve had COVID yet – and if you haven’t, I pray you don’t …

… but those days isolated from the world taught me a lesson I didn’t expect.

My job, working for you here at ALWS is to:

Help more people help more people.

Suddenly, COVID put me on the receiving end of help.

Casseroles appeared on the doorstep.

The weekend newspaper.

Medical supplies – Cold & Flu tablets, paracetamol, Cure-All chocolate.

Emails of encouragement.

And, of course, our church’s 50 persons prayer chain swung into action.

It was very humbling.

The practical help was helpful when we were helpless (especially the chocolate 😊).

Even more precious though was knowing that people cared about us.

Enough that they went out of their way to look after us. Give up their time and their money to make our lives a little bit better when we were doing it tough.

I didn’t realise how good it would feel to know that we meant that much to people.

What I felt is exactly what the people you help
through ALWS feel when they receive your care.

Yes, the practical ALWS help you give is important – the schoolbooks, the goat, the welcome at the refugee camp, the training in improved farming methods …

… but even more precious is the fact the person you help knows someone cares about them.

Your kindness tells them they matter.

That they are valued.

As you know, here at ALWS we seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and reach out to people who are the most vulnerable, and in danger of being forgotten by the world.

For these people, your kindness matters even more.

For some, it’s the first time in their life that anyone has said they are important.

That’s why they do whatever they can to thank you. If you were in their village, they’d invite you to a meal. Prepare a speech. Introduce you to the whole family. Sing a song. Gather you up in dance.

While distance and circumstance mean you can’t have that experience physically …

… I hope the stories I share with you through these HOPE Spots give you a taste of what your kindness means to each person you help.

Your kindness is precious, a gift beyond words.

That’s what COVID taught me.


HOPE Spot #20: Wednesday 20 April


That’s how many lives were touched by people like you through ALWS last year! Absolutely amazing. Thank you!

Those 509,873 people live in countries from Afghanistan to South Sudan, and received support from agricultural training to COVID supplies to education, and much more …

… which is why this week I have mailed you our 2022 ALWS Supporter Survey.

The Supporter Survey lets you tell us the areas of your ALWS work that most interest you, so we can update you more directly on all you achieve for others.

As you complete your survey, consider that each of those 509,873 people  …

… is an individual, like Mr Yam Narayan Adhikari from Chitwan in Nepal.

If you look closely, you’ll see
Mr Yam has only one hand.

This has not stopped him becoming Chair of his community’s Disaster Management Committee, which you supported to receive training through our ALWS partner LWF Nepal.  Mr Yam says:

“The training was very beneficial to me as physically I can properly work only with one hand, and people like me face difficulties and are more vulnerable during the time of flood.”

One of the key life-saving measures the community learned in the training was manufacturing homemade ‘flood protective swimming gear’.

They recycle local products like bottles and water pots to create flotation devices, as you see in the photo below …

The aim is to use local knowledge, local resources and local energy to help people protect themselves and others in this disaster-prone region. Mr Yam reports:

“This training has given me the abilities and self-confidence to make and use the swimming gear to try to protect myself, and support others too.”

“In the coming days, if the flood comes or not, we will practice
 making this swimming gear, and store it ready.”

You also trained people to:

  • make ropes from local resources
  • build stretchers
  • use effective ways to control fires
  • recycle plastic products to make life-jackets

The 3 days training reached 50 people, delivered in partnership with the Nepal Army and local Chitwan District leadership, supported by the Australian Government.

Together, the 50 people you see here are now equipped to protect themselves and others during time of disaster …

Multiply the people in this photo 10,000 TIMES …

 … and you have the 509,873 LIVES touched
by people like you through ALWS in 2021!


Thank you for bringing hope into so many lives – you truly are a blessing ALWayS.

Photos: LWF Nepal

HOPE Spot #19: Wednesday 14 April

Your daily bread …

My first job as a 17 year old was pastry-chef.

The Wednesday night before Easter was our busiest.

We’d work all night hand-rolling the best Hot Cross Buns in all of Melbourne. People would start queuing from 5.30.

I thought of that when I saw this photo from South Sudan …

… the only difference is people aren’t queuing.


The price of flour in Africa has increased dramatically, and people can’t afford to buy the goods Ring Majok (above) is baking.

And why have prices gone up?

The war in Ukraine.

18 countries in Africa import more than half their grain from Ukraine and Russia. So, as the war destroys crops, pushes up prices, cuts off reliable supply …

… families in poor communities in Africa struggle to afford their daily bread.

This bakery’s owner says:

“People just walk past my bakery.
Before, there was a queue here.

Now, children go to school
on an empty stomach.”


Through ALWS, you help protect families from hunger in places like South Sudan and Burundi by supporting farmers with:

  • new drought-resistant seed varieties
  • training in mulching, weeding and compost
  • animal manure fertiliser*
  • water supply and irrigation
  • home vegetable gardens
  • pineapple and banana plantations in Burundi
  • marketing skills to increase profit
  • co-operatives to share the benefits

* Ukraine and Russia also produce much of the world’s fertiliser


‘What’s the price of a loaf of bread?’…


… here in Australia, it’s a journalist’s ‘gotcha’ question during the election campaign

… but in the places where you help people through ALWS, it’s a real question for families about what they can feed their children.

Through ALWS, as you support Lutheran churches in Poland, Hungary and Romania to provide basics like bread for people fleeing the war in Ukraine …

… you also support families in places like Burundi and South Sudan, making sure they are not forgotten as they battle to feed their children.

Thank you for all you do through ALWS to put bread on the tables of people who, without you, would be hungry. You are a blessing ALWayS.



PS: Tonight, those of us who are Christians celebrate Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper through the breaking of bread for his friends. I’ll miss our church’s worship (I’m at home with COVID), but I pray Easter is a special blessing for you.


All photos: Anette Torjusen, Norwegian Church Aid

HOPE Spot #18: Friday 8 April

What care is all about

Can I take you to the border of Ukraine …

… to give you a first-hand insight into your ALWS action for refugees from Ukraine.

Your ALWS action is part of the LWF plan to serve 170,000 refugees from Ukraine.


Chey Mattner (an Aussie from the Barossa Valley) is Head of Operations for LWF (Lutheran World Federation).

On Wednesday, via Zoom, Chey shared his experiences supporting Lutheran churches in Romania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia as they care for refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Nearly 100 people attended the 30 minutes Zoom briefing …

… but if you missed it, you can watch it here


Chey shares eyewitness stories and expert insights that will show you how important and effective your action through ALWS is for refugees who have lost everything.

One of those refugees is Maria …

… who you can meet here in this two minute video from an Emergency Centre in Hungary.

Maria is one of the thousands of refugees receiving care from people like you through the ACT Alliance of churches worldwide, of which ALWS is a member. Maria shares:

“We come here to Hungary. We go to the volunteers and now we know what care is about…

… we have very thanks for the help because when you must go out from your home where you have friends and work and school, you have all these things, and then you are homeless, with just a bag …

 To be safe is the one thing. You go step by step.

 That’s why the help of other people is very, very important.”

‘Now we know what care is about.’

That’s your impact.

That’s what you do through ALWS – not just for the people fleeing Ukraine, like Maria

… but also for victims of other wars in places like Ethiopia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, far from media attention and in danger of being forgotten.

Your kindness and care bring these people the life-saving help they need, and encourages them they are not alone. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!


Maria video
(2 minutes)

Chey briefing
(30 minutes)

PS: you are also welcome to join Ed Sheeran leading the ‘Concert for Ukraine’ on ABC iView. Proceeds go to the Emergency Action Alliance, of which ALWS is a founding member. If you’d like to donate to help victims of war from Ukraine to Ethiopia and Myanmar, simply donate here. Thank you!


How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care: Your donation helps survivors of war in Ukraine and Ethiopia, and in other humanitarian emergencies where you are needed most urgently. Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in these projects, those funds will be used in ALWS-supported development projects. Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407

Being careful with your care: In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 year average is 15.4%. A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407. [ACFID logo]

Your privacy is important to us: ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is The Overseas Aid & Resettlement Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #17: Tuesday 5 April

‘Live’ from Ukraine frontline this Wednesday

As each day brings more disturbing news from Ukraine …

… this Wednesday, at 6pm AEST, you have the chance to hear encouraging news.

You are invited to a 30 minutes Zoom session with Aussie,

Chey Mattner, back from the front line in Poland.

Chey is a key member of the LWF operation supporting Lutheran churches in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to welcome and care for refugees fleeing Ukraine.


Through ALWS, you support this vital work ensuring churches can efficiently and effectively provide the care refugees need most – food, shelter, warm clothes.

You are welcome to join a Zoom briefing live with Chey:

Wednesday 6 April

* 6pm – Qld / NSW / Vic

* 5.30pm – SA / NT

* 4pm – WA

* 8pm – NZ 

Zoom Link


Your briefing is hosted by Leah Odongo, Acting Executive Director of ALWS.

Leah has 8 years of experience working on the front line of your ALWS work with refugees at Kakuma and Dadaab in Kenya. As Leah interviews Chey, she can bring you the benefit of her experience as well.


The briefing is open to all ALWS supporters. Simply use this link:

You are welcome to ask questions about the Ukraine work you support.

Simply send an email here with your questions for Leah and Chey.


You may remember Chey is an Aussie, and former Executive Director of ALWS. He now serves from Geneva as Head of Operations for LWF.

Chey continues the long history of Australians playing critical roles in LWF:

  • Pastor Bruno Muetzelfeldt – began ALWS work at Bonegilla Migrant Centre (near Albury), then led Operations for LWF in Geneva
  • Brian Neldner – served for 40 years, including 15 years in Director roles, and in the 1980s won UN support for specialised care for women in refugee situations
  • Shirley Golding – gave more than 15 years of service in LWF finances, including in Zimbabwe and in the wake of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake

Thank you for the service you give through your kindness and generosity. Together we can be a blessing ALWayS!



PS: Tomorrow – Wednesday 6 April – use this Zoom link to join the 30 minutes briefing on your ALWS work supporting the people of Ukraine, and refugees from other crises in danger of being forgotten. If you can’t make it on Wednesday, we’ll record the session so you can watch it later. 

HOPE Spot #16: Wednesday 30 March

Ed Sheeran joins you for Ukraine (tonight!)

Our ALWS community has already responded with overwhelming generosity to help the people of Ukraine through Lutheran churches serving on the front line.

Now, Ed Sheeran and other musical stars are adding their talents to your kindness, through a two hour Concert for Ukraine on ABC TV Plus, tonight at 8.30 AEDT.

(If you don’t know who Ed Sheeran is, he has album sales of around 23 million!)

Proceeds from the concert go to the Emergency Action Alliance, of which ALWS is a foundation member – thus boosting our ALWS action.

Other performers at the concert include:

  • Camila Cabello
  • Nile Rodgers & Chic
  • Snow Patrol
  • Becky Hill
  • The Kingdom Choir
  • Manic Street Preachers
  • Tom Odell

Viewers will be able to donate money to help the people of Ukraine through the concert, and for the following 30 days that it is available on ABC iView.

I know this is very late notice – the event only came together yesterday – but I hope you are as excited as I am at the way people are coming together for the people of Ukraine.

You are welcome to donate here for the kind of work you see here…

Photo: Finn Church Aid – photographer Antti Yrjonen


… working through our ALWS partner, Lutheran World Federation, and churches of many denominations from around the world through the ACT Alliance.

Your ALWS action focuses on supporting Lutheran churches in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to welcome refugees, and to also support the aid efforts of the Lutheran church inside Ukraine.

Hot meals. A place to sleep. Soap and toothpaste.

Even incontinence pads for elderly people in distress.

Most of all, a warmth of welcome that tells people they are not alone or forgotten, and that there are people of kindness and generosity willing to stand with them.

Together, we pray for an end to the suffering, and a swift return to peace and justice.

Your donation now will be a blessing ALWayS.

Thank you for all you do for others, and I hope that if you can watch the Concert for Ukraine tonight you will feel encouraged that world class performers of the calibre of Ed Sheeran share your deep concern for the people of Ukraine.


PS: As we support this action for the people of Ukraine, ALWS continues to take your care to the victims of other wars at risk of being forgotten – Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia. Thank you for caring here too. Donate now


     ACT Alliance logo     


HOPE Spot #15: Friday 25 March

How you help get girls to school in danger zones

Did you hear the overnight news from Afghanistan?

The Taliban are banning girls from going past Grade 6 at school.

This broken promise hurts girls now and for the future.

No matter how much courage girls and young women have in Afghanistan, without education they are condemned to a life that completely ignores their human rights.

While you and I cannot take on the Taliban face to face, through ALWS we can continue supporting careful work inside Afghanistan …

… and to Afghan families who have managed to escape to Pakistan.

At the moment, we cannot provide education directly to girls, but we can:

  • target vocational training at women
  • aim to ensure females are at least half the people you help
  • use trainers who are women
  • ensure female-headed households are a priority
  • train communities against gender-based violence
  • model having women in leadership roles

Clearly, this is not as direct as we’d like it to be, but I am sure you understand the challenges. You are welcome to support this work for the girls and women of Afghanistan through our Children of War appeal here.

Meanwhile, you continue helping girls in danger zones like Somalia…

Photo: LWF Somalia

In Somalia, girls face the danger of being forced into early marriage, and having children before they want, or before their bodies are ready.

Through ALWS, you support Somali girls in Displaced Persons Camps to go to school.

You provide education essentials like:

  • school uniforms – as you see in the photo
  • clean water
  • support and supplies for Menstrual Health
  • gender-segregated toilets

Donate here


In countries bordering Ukraine, our ALWS partner Lutheran World Federation (LWF) aims to provide more than one million Euros worth of education to children fleeing the war.

You can see the challenge when existing classrooms have had to be turned into refugee centres…

Photo: LWF / Filip Błażejowski

As you will know from news reports, men aged 18 – 60 must remain in Ukraine to help resist the attacks on their country. This means the majority of refugees are women and children – something we see in other refugee situations in other places.

That’s why children’s education and female-targeted programs are a critical part of your ALWS care for refugees.

Rebekka Meissner, from LWF, last week visited border crossings between Ukraine and Poland to look at how best to support the Lutheran churches delivering your care.

Photo: LWF / Filip Błażejowski

Rebekka noted there will be a longer-term need for education and child-care provided by Ukrainian language speakers.

“Those who have already found a place to stay in Poland
could be trained as educators, providing a sense of purpose
and preventing negative coping mechanisms.”

I have given you a lot of information today.

I hope this gives you a deeper insight into what you do through ALWS in the world’s danger zones, especially making sure the particular needs of girls and women are not forgotten.

You can support your ALWS work in these danger zones through our Children of War campaign, which has a special focus on education. Donate here

Thank you for continuing to care even when we face challenges like the Taliban’s banning of girls having education beyond Grade 6. You are a blessing ALWayS!



How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care: Your donation helps victims of wars where you are needed most – including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ukraine and Ethiopia. Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed in these projects, those funds will be used in ALWS-supported development projects. Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407

Being careful with your care: In 2021, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 16.7%. The 5 year average is 15.4%. A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407. [ACFID logo]

Your privacy is important to us: ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is The Overseas Aid & Resettlement Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #14: Wednesday 23 March

Baby steps


Two weeks ago, my daughter had a baby girl.

This is not her.

My granddaughter Maya has her own room in a lovely house by a beautiful Australian beach.

This baby girl is two months old Nastia.

She is with her mum and big brother in a room in a church outside of Lviv in Ukraine, after the family fled the bombing on their home.

The church has opened its doors to refugees, prioritising women and children so they don’t have to sleep out in the open and cold at the railway station. (Minus 5 on Sunday night.)

The priest says they have 150 people each night.

Most stay only a day or two, before moving on to seek safety outside of Ukraine.

It’s this kind of front-line hands-on help by churches that you support through ALWS and our ACT Alliance partners, including LWF and Hungarian Interchurch Aid.

If you would like to give your help too, simply donate here.





·     Toothpaste

·     Soap (x 3)

·     400ml Shampoo

·     500ml Cleansing gel

·     Toilet paper

·     Dishwashing liquid

·     Disinfectant

·     3kg Washing powder


·     2 litres Sunflower oil

·     Canned stewed meat

·     Biscuits

·     900gm Sugar

·     Condensed milk

·     2kg Pasta

·     1kg Semolina

·     1kg Peas

·     2kg Rice

·     2kg Flour

·     2 x Tinned fish

·     Incontinence pads






This is the kind of action ACT Alliance partners are working to deliver to families like baby Nastia’s – mum Natalia, and Nastia’s big brother Igor, who is 9.



What really touched my heart in this photo, (apart from the look on Igor’s face), is the painting on the wall above Natalia’s head …


It reminded me that Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus were also refugees. They were forced to flee their home for Egypt after being threatened with death by Israel’s king, Herod.

Right from the earliest months of His life, Jesus knew the trauma of those who lost everything.

Perhaps that’s why, in His ministry, Jesus always had a special heart for those who were hurt – people who were poor, rejected by others, lived with a disability, were forgotten by those who should care for them.

Here at ALWS, we seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in taking your care and kindness to people who are in need.

Like Natalia, Nastia and Igor.

In places like Ukraine, whose suffering fills our TV screens …

… and in other places where war hasn’t made headlines, and whose victims are in danger of being forgotten.

See latest Ukraine update here or donate now.

Thank you for your lifesaving ALWS help to the innocent victims of war … and poverty … and injustice. The challenges are huge, and you may think your care and kindness are only baby steps toward bringing peace and hope …

… but I pray that when you look at baby Nastia, you see that every step is precious, and that you are a blessing ALWayS.



People were also bringing babies to Jesus

for him to place his hands on them.

When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 

But Jesus called the children to him and said, 

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Luke 18:15,16 (The Bible – NIV)


Photos: Finn Church Aid / Antti Yrjonen. The children’s parents gave permission for their photo to be taken. Their names have been changed to protect their safety.

HOPE Spot #13: Friday 18 March

Embrace your style

As our TV screens are filled with the horror of children suffering from war …

… let me fill your screen today with a child doing her part to end the suffering.

Meet Hannah, from eastern Melbourne:

“I first heard about ALWS through my school – a Lutheran Primary School in Melbourne.  I was captivated by ALWS’s efforts to support refugee children’s education all over the world.

I believe we are so lucky to be in Australia
where we children don’t have to worry about wars.

In Australia most of the things we take as granted, such as education and basic human needs, are a privilege for the children in war-torn countries.

Ever since I heard about ALWS, I was determined to find a way to support their work.

During the school holidays I brainstormed fundraising ideas with my friends. I came up with an idea to make and sell bracelets and stickers to collect donations.

My parents agreed to buy raw material so I can make these items.

Initially I was going to sell these items via a booth in my street. However, to reach larger audience I’ve decided to sell these items online by creating my own website – Embrace Your Style

Anyone can purchase bracelets and stickers via this website and the buyers have to donate the value of what they bought to ALWS – Walk My Way.

My website has been active since January 2022.

I have a goal of donating $520 and I am nearly half-way there. I am grateful to ALWS, my parents and friends for their support to achieve this goal.”

If Hannah can achieve her goal, she will support 20 refugee children to go to school.


Photo: LWFKenya

These are children who have fled war, and found safety at places like the refugee camp at Kakuma in Kenya you support through ALWS.

Hannah shows it doesn’t matter what age you are, or what resources you have … if you have a heart for helping, you can make a life-transforming difference!

That’s a ‘style’ we can all ‘embrace’ …

… and you already do in what you do for others through ALWS. Thank you!

Jonathan – and Hannah

PS: Last year, the ALWS team presented to over 20,000 students like Hannah in 60 Lutheran schools across Australia. You support this work too – thank you!

HOPE Spot #12: Friday 11 March

Down in the mud to lift up the heart

See today’s Ukraine update

Photo: LCAQ

As the world works to support the victims of the war in Ukraine …

… back here at home, the people of Queensland and NSW are dealing with devastating floods that have destroyed homes and businesses and livelihoods.

In the photo, you see Mark Vainikka at work cleaning-up the Brisbane office of the Lutheran Church.

You can see by Mark’s T-shirt that he has also been part of ALWS Walk My Way to help refugees.

In fact, Mark RAN the first Queensland Walk in 2019 …

… and then in 2020, during COVID, ran a MARATHON on a treadmill, raising enough money to support 36 refugee children to go to school!

Mark’s example shows how we can care for those close to home and those far away, opening our hearts to where we can each make our own personal contribution …

… something so critical now as we deal with the war in Ukraine, victims of other wars in danger of being forgotten, and flood-hit communities in Queensland and NSW.

(By the way, Mark is also a Pastor, and now Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Queensland.)


When I saw this photo of Bishop Mark mopping up the mud, it reminded me of work you support through ALWS in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Photo: RDRS Bangladesh / LWF

The Rohingya refugees fled here from war in Myanmar three years ago.

One of the critical actions you support through ALWS is a Cash-for-Work program for refugees to clean drains around the camp.

This maintains cleanliness to help prevent diseases, and stops polluted wastewater flooding into people’s huts.

The aim is to clean 34 kilometres of drains this year …

…  plus spray 5 kilometres of drains
to control mosquito larvae
that cause deadly malaria.

Refugees use the money they earn to buy essentials for their families. 

Just like cleaning up the mud from the Queensland and NSW floods …

… and supplying Hygiene Kits to refugees from the war in Ukraine

… this is hard humble hands-on work.

It takes people with courage, and commitment to their communities, ready to do whatever it takes, whatever they can, to make a difference.

People who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty to help.

Which sounds just like you.

Your kindness and compassion for people in some of the toughest places on earth bring hope, and lift the hearts of those you help.

Thank you for all you do for others through ALWS, especially now in this time of such crisis.

For those in danger of being forgotten, you are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: Click here for today’s update from Ukraine, which focuses on the work of churches, and the coordinating role of our ALWS partner LWF. You can support the work in Ukraine, and for victims of other wars like the one in Myanmar that forced people to flee to Bangladesh as refugees – donate now!

HOPE Spot #11: Monday 7 March

Ukraine – how precious can a colouring book be?

This is Antonia (10) and her little sister Galyna (3).

They fled Ukraine to safety in a village in Hungary.

They fled Ukraine to safety in a village in Hungary.

There they were welcomed by Hungarian Interchurch Aid, part of the ACT Alliance taking your ALWS support to children and families hurt by the war in Ukraine.

Antonia could only bring one toy and one colouring book with her.

At the rescue centre, she saw another girl who had nothing.

Antonia gave this girl her colouring book.

You can see a crisis like the war in Ukraine … the floods in NSW and Queensland … and feel so small, as if you have nothing worthwhile to give.

You do.

Your love and kindness are precious.


Thank you.


PS: ALWS has stepped out in faith and committed $50,000 to support the work of churches around Ukraine welcoming and caring for refugees fleeing the war. You are welcome to help ensure the children of war are not forgotten. Donate here

See a 2 minutes video of aid being delivered by ACT Alliance partner, Hungarian Interchurch Aid, here

Hungarian Interchurch Aid are delivering:




·     Toothpaste

·     Soap (x 3)

·     400ml Shampoo

·     500ml Cleansing gel

·     Toilet paper

·     Dishwashing liquid

·     Disinfectant

·     3kg Washing powder


·     2 litres Sunflower oil

·     Canned stewed meat

·     Biscuits

·     900gm Sugar

·     Condensed milk

·     2kg Pasta

·     1kg Semolina

·     1kg Peas

·     2kg Rice

·     2kg Flour

·     2 x Tinned fish


·    Incontinence pads





Photo: Antti Yrjonen / FCA   The children’s parents gave permission for their photo to be taken. Their names have been changed to protect their safety.


HOPE Spot #10: Thursday 3 March

Your ALWS action for Ukraine

I bring you updated news of how you can help the people of Ukraine through ALWS.




Ukraine is not an area where ALWS normally works.

However, given the crisis faced by its people, we are working with partners on how best to provide support from Australia …

…and unite with the world in standing up against the madness and aggression that is hurting so many innocent people.

ALWS has stepped out in faith and committed
a minimum $50,000 of emergency support.




Our partner, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), is working with local churches in countries neighbouring Ukraine to find the best way to welcome and care for refugees.



ALWS is also part of a coalition of churches of many denominations from all around the world – ACT Alliance – working together to bring help and hope.

The Alliance is already having an impact through congregations of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Rostov region of Russia. These generous Christians have welcomed 4,500 refugees with hot meals, clothes, hygiene items, baby supplies and shelter.

The ACT Alliance aims to grow action through Hungarian Interchurch Aid, working in Berehove and Lviv in west Ukraine.

The focus is on 1,500 children who need shelter, food and medicine. They are among 30,000 refugees seeking safety here.


DONATE NOW * CALL 1300 763 407



As the world focuses on the crisis in Ukraine, there is danger that victims of other wars may be forgotten – particularly the 1.2 million people displaced by the war in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Children and families here are suffering the same agony as you see on your TV screen as happening in Ukraine.

Bombs dropping. Children bleeding. Families fleeing.

That’s why ALWS will immediately increase by $50,000
your emergency aid to these victims of war.


A LWF colleague who just returned from the front line shared how she met a young couple who were so grateful for the support they received from ‘the Lutheran’…

… that they nick-named their new baby, born in the heart of war, as ‘Luther’.

This is the impact you make . It’s proof you are a blessing ALWayS!

Thank you!                               



CALL 1300 763 407 OR DONATE NOW



ALWS has recommitted your support for the girls and women of Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban. You help those who have made it to safety in Pakistan, and those still in such great danger inside Afghanistan.

Through ALWS, you also work inside Myanmar, despite the challenges posed after the military coup one year ago. Your emergency aid is being carried into the jungle by local church members … along tracks only locals know … in small quantities to spread the risk of loss should military intercept.

You also provide school inside Temporary Learning Spaces for Rohingya children forced to live in Displaced Persons Camps in Rakhine State in Myanmar …

… and to children who have found safety from war at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Thank you!

HOPE Spot #9: Friday 25 February

When we wake up to war

I had a different HOPE Spot written for you today …

… but the invasion of Ukraine has shattered what made sense yesterday.

As we wake up today to TV screens filled with war, and as the world grapples with what to do next …

… you and I as individuals can feel helpless, anxious, uncertain about what we can or should do.

I don’t have any easy answers.

The only thing I can think of is to encourage you by showing you what you are doing for victims of another war, one the world seems to have forgotten, in northern Ethiopia.

Your kindness here is offering practical aid to those who are most vulnerable – people forced from their homes, little children, the elderly, mums, people with disabilities …

The people you help find hope in knowing they are not forgotten.

While none of us know yet what we might be called to do to support the people of Ukraine under threat from war…

… I pray you find comfort in knowing that through ALWS you already bring life-protecting care to:

  • people displaced by drone and on-ground attacks in Tigray, Ethiopia
  • the girls and women of Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban
  • Rohingya families forced by conflict into Displaced Persons Camps in Myanmar and refugee camps in Bangladesh
  • victims of war who have fled to safety at Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya.

As we await what happens next in Ukraine, I thank you on behalf of each person hurt by war who you already help. Your kindness gives them hope and is a blessing ALWayS.


HOPE Spot #8: Tuesday 22 February

When lives are touched by kindness

It’s a year ago today that our ALWS rep for Queensland, Christian Stern, passed away from cancer.


We miss the Big Fella so much …

… but take hope from Christian’s certain confidence he was going home to be with his Lord.

Christian was passionate about inspiring people to help those in need.

He saw it as a very practical way each of us can bring love to life, building a more just and fairer world as we live out our values in acts of service.

Even in his last few weeks of life, Christian would encourage us in our ALWS ministry, reminding us of our privilege to work for you, taking your care to where you are most needed.



Our thoughts are with Christian’s wife Tanya, and son Jasper.


We can see the impact of Christian in the fact that when he passed, friends and family and ALWS supporters donated $9,300 to help his legacy live on in the ALWS projects he was passionate about in Nepal.

I thought you might like to see the lives touched by this generosity …

Kitchen gardens

Christian loved growing a wide range of veggies. Now, poor families in Nepal will be taught how to grow vegetables, receive seeds to plant, and shown how to make the most of their nutritional value so children will grow stronger.

What matters isn’t those who planted or watered,
but God who made the plants grow.

1 Corinthians 3:7


Teaching teachers

Christian was a teacher, loved and respected by all. In his ALWS career, Christian continued teaching in a different way, inspiring students to action to help others. In many communities – in Australia, as well as the countries where ALWS works – people with disabilities can be overlooked. This gift trains teachers in Nepal to engage students with disabilities in inclusive education.

Now go; I will help you speak
and teach you what to say.

Exodus 4:12

Banana plantations

Born ‘im Deutschland jah’, as he would pronounce with a smile, Christian worked in around Australia. With wife Tanya, he created an exciting home in Hervey Bay in Queensland for their son Jasper. And what would Queensland be without bananas? That’s why this gift supports farmers in Nepal to develop their own banana plantations.

They are like trees growing beside a stream,
trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves.
Those people succeed in everything they do.

Psalm 1:3


Anyone who visited Christian at home would know straightaway his love for animals – big booming dogs, tanks full of fish – life flourishing under his care. This gift celebrates Christian by providing piglets to poor families in Nepal, so they can breed their own litters, and gradually build up a bank of pigs to breed and sell.

The LORD cares for his nation,
just as shepherds care for their flocks.

He carries the lambs in his arms,
while gently leading the mother sheep.

Psalm 1:3

Thank you for your grace in allowing me to share this personal reflection with you on this special day for your ALWS team.

As we think of what our brother Christian offered for others through ALWS, we also think of you and all you do to touch the lives of people in need, and in danger of being forgotten.

Thank you for the lives you touch. You are a blessing ALWayS.


PS: ALWS is keen to find someone who feels called to carry on the work of Christian in passionately inspiring Queenslanders to bring love to life through ALWS. Might this be you? Or someone you know? Find out more here

HOPE Spot #7: Wednesday 16 February

What is it about ducks?

There must be something special about ducks.

If you’re out driving, ducks seem to have right of way.

No matter how busy a road is, if there is a duck family wanting to cross the road, suddenly there is a traffic jam.

Cars have hazard lights on.

A bloke in terry-towelling shorts has jumped out of his car and is doing his best traffic cop impression, sternly holding his hand up as a STOP sign, before waving the ducks across the road with a big flourish.

While ducks matter here in Australia …

… they are even more precious for the families you support through ALWS at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh – the world’s largest refugee camp.

The refugees are Rohingya people, who lost everything when they were forced to flee from their homes in Rakhine State in Myanmar.

(Last week I shared with you about your ALWS work inside Myanmar, supporting women to start their own businesses, like soap-making. Watch 2 minutes video here)


Thanks to generous caring people like you, the ducks you see in this photo aren’t just ducks …

… they are a new business for a refugee family!


Jannatul Ferdous, a refugee Rohingya widow who supports two children and her mother-in-law, received a grant of $115 (7,000 Taka – BDT) to buy 10 pairs of ducks.

Jannatul is very happy to explain what your ducks mean for her …

“I have a pond with my rented property, so I planned to rear ducks.

I approached RDRS Bangladesh for help, and they supported me to get training. I am grateful to them.

My ducks have already started to lay eggs. Some of the eggs are consumed at home, and some are sold at the village market at BDT10 each (15 cents).

I plan to bring in more ducks as they support my family’s food needs, and other household expenses, and school materials for my children.”

RDRS Bangladesh is the ALWS partner delivering your care inside the Rohingya refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar. Your ALWS action also supports the Bangladesh communities generously welcoming and hosting the refugees.

Your ALWS support here is not just for ducks. Other refugees are supported in poultry-rearing … growing vegetables … planting trees to restore the environment …

… even drain-cleaning, as you can see in the photo below.

This hard humble work is part of a Cash-for-Work program. It provides income for refugees PLUS helps protect the health of families inside the camp! You have a double impact!

While the world might have forgotten the people of Myanmar, including Rohingya refugee families forced to flee to Bangladesh …

… through ALWS you are right there with them!

You are helping those who are most vulnerable – widows like Jannatul, people with disabilities, women and girls, the elderly.

On their behalf – thank you for your compassion and generosity. You are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: So, what is it about ducks?

Maybe it’s because we see an innocent family … with potential to be something wonderful in our world … vulnerable and in danger … through no fault of their own … and we want to protect them from hurt … so they can flourish.

 On that note, let’s ‘get quacking’! 😊

 PPS: Your work in Bangladesh is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).


 All photos: LWF RDRS Emergency Program (LREP) – thank you!

HOPE Spot #6: Friday 11 February

When life is a Soap Opera(tion)

COVID seems to have made life way more complex and confusing than it used to be.

Good news is in short supply. Challenges keep growing. You can feel like you are in a high drama soap opera.

That’s why today I am taking you to a real-life Soap Opera(tion).

My hope is you will be inspired by these people you’ve never met, in a place you’d never expect …

… women from poor communities in Myanmar, who you support through ALWS.


Last week made it one year since the military coup in Myanmar. While much of the world has forgotten the needs of the people here …

… through ALWS, and our local partners in Myanmar, you are now giving direct development support to more than 19,000 of the country’s most vulnerable people!

Exciting change is already happening, through creative ideas like this Soap Opera(tion) …


Watch 2 minute video now!


The ‘Moon’ Women’s Group’s Soap-making Business is proof of what can be achieved as you empower women to:

  • develop business skills
  • build co-operatives
  • set up small livelihood enterprises
  • gain confidence to seek their human rights


The video will soon have you smiling at the ladies’ suds-cess …

… as you admire their determination, creativity, hard work, talent, care for each other:

“We are all united
and this is one of our strengths.”

You are united with groups like this one through ALWS. The strength you bring is your kindness and care.

The result of this Soap Opera(tion)?

The ladies have profits they can use to pay school fees. They say they are able to “donate to help others”. Just as important is the fact the ladies are confident to declare:

“Now I am not afraid to speak.”


Watch video – 2 minutes of soap, success and smiles!


At a time when there is so much bad news coming out of Myanmar …

… you deserve to hear this good news of how your quiet humble hard work is supporting people with so many challenges to transform their lives.

In Myanmar, you are a blessing ALWayS! Thank you!



PS: Your ALWS work in Myanmar is supported by the Australian Government with a 5:1 Matching Grant*. You are welcome to use this grant to donate.

Together, our plan is that 19,296 people are helped directly, and a further 48,000 people receive flow-on benefits. 57% of people supported are women. 446 are people with disabilities. All are the most vulnerable, in danger of being forgotten.

*Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people. ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5 received from the Australian Government.

HOPE Spot #5: Wednesday 2 February

Tonga – here is what hope looks like …

As soon as the HOPE Spot about the Tonga tsunami went out last week, the phone at ALWS office in Albury started ringing!

People like you saw the needs of our neighbour and wanted to help.

At a time when Australia is struggling with all the challenges of COVID, what a joy it is that kindness and compassion and generosity can flourish!

The good news is aid supported by churches in Australia is already flowing into Tonga …

… here you see supplies being loaded in Suva, Fiji, bound for Tonga through our ALWS partner, Anglican Missions.

As I told you last week, ALWS has stepped out in faith and committed $20,000 (minimum) to the relief effort on your behalf.

Your ALWS support is delivered through CAN-DO (Church Agencies Network – Disaster Operation) from here in Australia …

… working directly with local churches in Tonga.

These churches live and serve among the people, and so are in the best position to identify who needs help most, and what support will help most.

Clean water is a critical priority.

Another CAN-DO partner, Caritas, is already distributing:

·     Hygiene kits

·     Buckets

·     Jerry-cans

·     Water bladders

Water-purifying tablets can also be critical.

You are welcome to add your personal support to the relief effort of ALWS through CAN-DO:



We all know how quickly the world moves onto the next headline.

The danger is people hurt by disasters like the tsunami in Tonga are forgotten. That’s why your work at ALWS is guided by these words from the Bible:

Don’t forget those who are suffering,
but imagine you are there with them.
Hebrews 13:3b

Thank you for everything you do through ALWS to be with people who are suffering.

No matter what aid is needed, it all begins with loving caring people like you. Your generosity drives action. Your kindness restores hope.

As we work together, I pray you are encouraged by the smiles of the team bringing your love to life for the people of Tonga…

God bless you!


HOPE Spot #4: Friday 28 January

Hair, hair for Australian of the Year

Did you get a lump in your throat when Dylan Alcott was named Australian of the Year?

Dylan is the first person with a visible disability to be recognised in this way. In his acceptance speech, he talked about his purpose in life:

“… it’s not to win tennis tournaments, it’s to change perceptions
so people with disability live the lives that they deserve to live.”

What you may not know is that through ALWS you already do exactly what Dylan describes …

… as you can see when you enter the hairdressing salon of Bhakta Bahadur in Nepal:

Bhakta was a young man when he was paralysed in an accident.

When Bhakta’s wife saw his disability, she left him.

Sadly, in Nepal (just as in Australia) the needs of people with a disability can be regarded as too challenging to support … or the person may suffer discrimination … or simply be forgotten and left behind by the rest of the community.

What makes life even harder for people with disabilities in Nepal is simply the poverty.

Bhakta’s family owned only 0.2 hectares of land, not enough to grow a family’s food. Bhakta’s parents are senior citizens, unable to work and needing support.

Bhakta said life was miserable …

… until people like you stepped in through ALWS and our partner LWF Nepal.

Bhakta was supported to use his hairdressing skills to open his own salon. You helped make sure he had essentials including:

  • Scissors
  • Hair straightener
  • Hair gel
  • Hair dryer
  • Shaving kit
  • Spray bottles

Bhakta says his specialties are styling clients’ beards and dying their hair!

What’s exciting is that Bhakta’s business is bringing in 6,000 Rupees per month. This is about $70 AUD, which may not sound much to you and me …

… but is TRIPLE the poverty line in Nepal, and enough for Bhakta to support his whole family – an achievement of which he is very proud.

Bhakta has also been trained in human rights, and public speaking …

… and now, just like Dylan Alcott, he can speak out to change perceptions of people with a disability, so they can live the life they deserve to live, just as he is.

While you may not be Australian of the Year …

… you do deserve a cheer – ‘Hair, Hair! – for your support through ALWS of people with a disability in some of the world’s poorest communities. You are a blessing ALWayS!


Photo: LWF Nepal

Did you know …

… ALWS is taking the lead across the LWF partnership in supporting projects to have world best practice in Disability Inclusion?



HOPE Spot #3: Friday 21 January

Tonga – your ALWS action

Sorry for not updating you sooner on your ALWS response to the crisis in Tonga.

The underwater volcano eruption and tsunami on Saturday (15 January) caused severe damage, and we have been waiting to get detailed information through for you …

… but as you may know, an undersea cable was damaged, cutting communications. Even satellite phones were dropping out after 3 or 4 minutes.

The good news is ALWS can take your love and care to Tonga through our membership of the Church Agencies Network* here in Australia.

The capacity of churches in Tonga to be delivery centres for aid is already being assessed.

ALWS is stepping out in faith and committing $20,000
to the combined churches relief effort.

It seems clear that priority needs will be in water, food and shelter:

  • majority of people rely on rainwater and boreholes, and these sources have been contaminated
  • 80% – 90% of people depend on farming and fishing: root crops are heavily hit by ash
  • a tropical cyclone looks to be forming and approaching, putting people without shelter at further risk

Once communications are more reliable, I hope to have more details I can share with you about your response through ALWS.

If you would like to help already now, you can donate here.

We pray for the people of Tonga, as we are inspired by their immense faith that enables them to hold on to hope in this time of crisis.



Did you know …

  • the population of Tonga is an MCG AFL Grand Final crowd – 105,000 people (pre-COVID!)
  • 99% of the population are Christian, and Sunday is by law a ‘day of rest’
  • Tonga is 50 times more crowded than Australia (147 people per km2 compared to 3.2)
  • Tonga has had only 1 case of COVID


* Church Agencies Network partners able to directly deliver aid in Tonga include:

  • Act for Peace
  • Adventist Development and relief Agency
  • Anglican Overseas Aid
  • Australian Baptist Mission
  • Caritas
  • Transform Aid
  • Uniting World

HOPE Spot #2: Tuesday 18 January

Wedding and watering and weeping

10 days ago, my daughter got married.

I was a blubbering mess all day.

Especially at the moment you see here, waiting to walk her down the aisle.

And again when I handed her over to her husband.

And when I made my Father-of-the-Bride speech.

And had our Daddy / Daughter Dance.

You get the idea.

(Darn, it’s happening again now!)


As a parent, you do all you can to equip your children to build a safe and secure and happy life for themselves.

You work hard to give them an education. You share what you have learned. Offer comfort and care when needed, and advice when sought. You help out when things go wrong.

Your child’s wedding highlights their life is their own.

While it made me weep (half with joy, half with an emotion I can’t put a name to) to see my daughter take this step …

… I struggle to think what it must be like for parents too poor to be able to give their children the start in life they desperately want to.

To be so poor, they can barely feed their children – let alone put them through school, or find medical care when they are sick.

Too often, the needs of these most vulnerable families are forgotten by the world, and the danger is poverty is then passed on from parent to child.

Through ALWS, you reach out to help parents like Mrs Vorn Rem from Cambodia.

Mrs Vorn Rem is just a few years older than my daughter. She has three children, and struggled to support them, no matter how hard she worked. Before your help, she grew vegetables in old and inefficient ways on a plot of land just 20 metres x 25 metres.

At best, she earned little more than $2 a day.

When floods came, and insects attacked, she earned just about nothing.


What grows when you water

Your help through ALWS, matched 5:1 by the Australian Government, supported Mrs Vorn Rem to find a way out.

 She received three days of training in drip irrigation techniques, and other climate-friendly agricultural techniques.

The training was provided through our ALWS Cambodian partner, Life with Dignity, and included new integrated farming systems, agriculture kits, and material support like tools.

Mrs Vorn Rem then started growing diverse types of vegetables – string beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, chilli and sweet corn. She has big plans:

“I have saved money from vegetables and had bought a water pump.

“I have also bought more agricultural materials and seeds. I am going to scale up my farms to be as big as commercial medium vegetable farms.

“I will generate more income from my farming fields to commercial horticulture through applying new technology. I am confident to apply this because I have learnt from LWD and have used my new skills in practice”.

The work is still very hard, but you can see by Mrs Vorn Rem’s produce and smile the success she is achieving.

In fact, her family’s income has DOUBLED!

What’s most important is the future Mrs Vorn Rem sees for her children:

“I have spent my new income for food and for my children’s education.

My family condition has increased through this support. I am free from debt, and have stable food all year round. I have saved for health treatment and my children’s schooling in the future!”

When I see what your support, and Mrs Vorn Rem’s hard work, have helped her achieve for her children …

… I realise it’s exactly the same as what I have worked to achieve for my children.

No wonder I’m weeping again now.

(It’s your ‘fault’ for being so kind and generous – thank you!)



HOPE Spot #1: Tuesday 4 January

Archbishop Tutu, Samosas from heaven … and you

When Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away last week, I thought of you.

You might wonder why.

Nobel Peace Prize winner. Worked alongside Nelson Mandela to end apartheid in South Africa. An example of love and compassion and forgiveness for 90 years.

So why did Archbishop Tutu make me think of you?

I once had the privilege of spending an hour one-on-one with Archbishop Tutu.

It was 20 years ago, in Capetown in South Africa. The Archbishop had agreed to launch a book I had written called Miracles for Life, as part of a campaign to raise money for 100,000 cataract operations across the world.

What an amazing man.

We had set up a big media conference and had a choir of children who were blind to welcome the Archbishop. We were running around like headless chooks trying to get things ready, when in walked Archbishop Tutu.

While we stammered and tried to put on brave faces, the Archbishop saw our chaos and got a big grin on his face, and said “I’m early, aren’t I?”

He saw our worried faces, and said he’d go wait in the kitchen until we were ready. A Nobel Peace Prize winner so humble and so gracious.

When it came time to talk to the media, Archbishop Tutu opened by saying “God is weak!”

That got everyone sitting on the edge of their seats. The media thought they had the scoop of the century – and the Christians in the crowd wondered what on earth he could mean.

Then the Archbishop explained.

“When God looks down and sees people hungry, he doesn’t send samosas raining down from heaven. No! God sends you. You and I are God’s hands and feet in service to the poor.

“If we say no, and refuse to act, we make God weak!”

It’s those words that made me think of you.

Your kindness and generosity through ALWS bring help and hope to those who are hurting in our world. You don’t rain samosas down from heaven …

… but you provide tools for farmers in South Sudan to grow crops to feed their families.

… you provide chickens and goats and pigs that support families in Nepal and Burundi to earn new income to pay for school and healthcare and extra food.

… you help children in refugee camps in East Africa go to school so that one day they can build a career.

As we go into 2022, our world still feels full of confusion and uncertainty and fear.

COVID continues to turn things upside down. There is argument about how we should respond. Worry about loved ones who are vulnerable. Failing trust in those who lead. Conflict between those who hold different views.

That is our reality.

Yet no matter what 2022 brings, what challenges we face …

… we can be certain that love and compassion and kindness will be needed more than ever

… to bring healing and hope to those at risk from poverty and injustice and natural disaster, and in danger of being forgotten by the world.

That’s why I wanted to start the year by thanking you.

For all you have done for others through ALWS, and all you will do.

In the words of Archbishop Tutu, you are God’s hands and feet. Thank you.


PS: After my hour interviewing Archbishop Tutu, and walking with him around the hospital in Capetown greeting people who could now see after having cataract operations, I handed him a copy of my book…

Archbishop Tutu got a stern look on his face and said, I’m sorry Jonathan, I cannot take this.”

I broke into a sweat thinking I had upset some Nobel Peace Prize protocol.

I asked what I had done wrong.

Archbishop Tutu smiled and said, “I cannot take this Jonathan because you have not autographed it!”

HOPE Spot #50: Friday 31 December

Your flood of kindness for South Sudan

This is you at work delivering aid to flood victims in South Sudan.

CNN reports the floods here are of Biblical proportions.

In Twic East, where you work through ALWS, 48,000 people are living on 12 islands surrounded by flood water. 90% lost their homes to the floods, and try to survive in shelters like this:

Disease is a deadly danger as there is nowhere to dig pit latrines, and people must go to the toilet in the same water they use for their household (washing, cooking).

While much of the world seems to have forgotten the people of South Sudan, through ALWS you are here, up to your waist in mud, helping people start over.


You repair dykes

At Panyagor, you helped pay 200 workers $3 a day for 20 days in a Cash-for-Work program. to repair dykes, as you see in the photo.  

The work is hard, and the wage basic, but it enables these workers to support more than 1,000 people in their families, as they also protect their villages from further flooding.

A further 100 people received two days of training in Disaster Risk Reduction, focusing on flooding, so they can better protect their families and communities in the future.

You also supported 50 families with a grant of $210 to build safer temporary shelters.


You provide food

The only food people trapped on the islands have, is fish they catch from the floodwater.

This lack of a balanced diet leaves children under 5 years old at risk from permanent stunting. Elderly people, pregnant women and lactating mothers are also at risk.

Your generosity supported 150 families (more than 900 people) with a cash grant of $180 to buy survival rations. 60% of the families you helped are headed by women.

You get children back to school

Flooding is so severe (as you can see in the photo below) that 40 out of 47 schools in the area where you work through ALWS have had to be relocated.

Through ALWS, you have already supported the building of a Temporary Learning Space for Early Childhood Development in Bor South county. Thanks to you, 75 boys and 55 girls have started learning again.

Two more Temporary Learning Spaces of four classrooms each, are planned to be built at Payaom and Wuchung. Pit latrines – gender-segregated, and disability-friendly – will be constructed here next month.


‘Hope-y’ New Year?

This is probably not the kind of New Year greeting you expected.

For many, this is a time of parties and fireworks and people wishing each other the hope of a ‘prosperous’ new year, and here I am talking about the hurt in South Sudan.

I guess I simply want to encourage you that the help you give through ALWS is hands-on and hard-working, and so offers a hope that is real and lasting.

As we go into 2022, where there will continue to be so many challenges, you can be certain that for the flood-survivors of South Sudan right now … and all those you have helped in 2021 through ALWS … you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!



PS: Help is still needed for flood survivors in South Sudan. You can have your donation for $111 Family Flood Kits matched dollar for dollar by a Lutheran couple from Queensland. (Your gift is also tax-deductible.) Donate now

HOPE Spot #49: Friday 24 December

Sour milk, seniors, and super-size smiles

Tonight, I’m doing the Christmas Eve message at our church.

I’m talking about smelly cows, a grumpy donkey and all those creepy-crawly things that run around an old farmyard shed.

It seems to me our world has made Christmas a little too safe and shiny …

… and forgotten the fact that Jesus was born in the rough and raw and real of everyday life.

Here at ALWS, I’m constantly humbled by people like you, sleeves rolled-up, getting stuck in to do what you can to help people hurt by poverty or disaster or discrimination.

That’s why I want to tell you about leftover milk
gone sour & stinky in the Queensland sun.

Meet the kids from Kingaroy!

Emily, Giaan, Megan and Ruby are Year 4 students at St John’s Lutheran School.

Throughout 2021, they and their classmates have spent lunchtimes collecting and sorting drink containers from around the school.

Look at those ones on the left – they’re flavoured milk containers. Imagine what they smell like after the drops in the bottom have been in the sun all day!

The students’ recycle the containers through the ALWS Containers for Change program to support refugee children at Kakuma in Kenya to go to school.

The 20 children in Kingaroy Grade 4, supported by their teacher Naomi, aimed to raise enough money to support 20 refugee children. At $26 per child for a year’s school, and 10 cents per container, that’s 5,200 containers that needed collecting, cleaning and recycling.

When they achieved their target, one 9-year-old explained:

“A little bit of effort on our part
can change another child’s whole future!”

Meanwhile, at Zion Aged Care, also in Queensland, seniors have found a wonderful way to bless others through ALWS – a Gifts of Grace Christmas Giving Tree!

Chaplain Heidi first encourages residents to set up a Christmas Tree in the foyer, and residents are encouraged to give with the theme:

Show that you care by not letting
our Christmas Giving tree remain bare!

 Residents can choose any Gifts of Grace they like. They receive a Grace Card as their memento …

… and then hang a bauble on the Christmas Giving Tree, as an example to other residents and staff of the blessing that comes from caring with kindness at Christmas!

So, this Christmas, whether you’re a youngster like the Kingaroy Kids …

… or a senior like Betty, Cecile and Joan (supported by fellow residents David and Kevin) at Zion

… or any age, anywhere

… thank you for your kindness and care,
and humble hard work through ALWS

… to help people who are vulnerable,
and at risk of being forgotten.

I pray you are blessed with smiles (and no sour milk)
as you shine the light of hope this Christmas!


Give your food to the hungry
and care for the homeless.

Then your light will shine in the dark …

Isaiah 58:10 (CEV)


HOPE Spot #48: Monday 20 December

A message from Juba for you

Last week I received this video from the LWF team you support on the front line of the floods in South Sudan.

It’s only two minutes long, but you’ll see why your kindness is so precious in South Sudan this Christmas.

The speaker is Lino Angok, LWF Project Coordinator, based in Juba. Watch now

Two things jumped out to me. The first is when Lino thanks you for:

“… always carrying the needy people.”

Straightaway I thought of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28:

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens,
come to me and I will give you rest.”

Think about that word ‘rest’.

‘Rest’ doesn’t mean the burdens will disappear, or never have to be carried again, or that we will no longer be tired.

No, we take a rest so, that when we are refreshed, we can pick up the burden again, and carry on.

That’s what Lino says you do
for the people of South Sudan.

Lino highlights the burdens his people carry now:

* livelihood-destroying floods

* refugees returning home

* ongoing conflict

* COVID-19

Through ALWS, you help people carry the load.

You support them as they recover strength, so they can get back to work rebuilding their lives.

The good news is when you help the people of South Sudan, your donation is matched dollar for dollar by a Lutheran couple from Queensland, up to $250,000. DONATE NOW



The second thing that stood out to me from Lino’s two minute message to you, is that he says you help the people of South Sudan ‘gain life’.

In this Christmas week, when we celebrate the birth of the One who promised:

“I came so that everyone would have life,
and have it in its fullest”

(John 10:10b) …

… I pray you feel a real sense of joy that the hands-on help you give through ALWS with Family Flood Kits and repair of damaged buildings actually helps people rebuild life.

This is your true gift this Christmas, through ALWS, to the people of South Sudan. Thank you!


PS: You are still welcome to have your donation DOUBLED to help the people of South Sudan carry their burdens as they rebuild life. Thank you!


HOPE Spot #47: Wednesday 15 December

Confused about COVID for Christmas?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost track of how many …

… interstate trips I’ve had to change because of COVID

… times my nostrils have hosted metre-long probes from people in masks

… QR check-in apps I have accumulated on my phone!

Whatever you think about the COVID response in Australia …

… one thing you don’t need to be confused about is your ALWS impact in supporting some of the poorest communities in the world to protect themselves against COVID

… (and drought, and disaster, and poverty).

This photo shows ICU beds and critical medical supplies in the Emergency Ward of Bir Hospital in Kathmandu in Nepal. These supplies, worth $50,000, came from the Australian Government, delivered through the LWF team you support in Nepal through ALWS.

What’s exciting is LWF Nepal have partnered directly with the Australian Government,
through the Embassy in Kathmandu, for this grant!

This is exactly the kind of self-sufficiency you and I work for through ALWS – at a local organisation level, community level, and at individual and household level … and proves the power of partnership!

Whether it’s a single dad in a refugee camp learning dress-making skills so he can start his own tailoring business …

… or a farmer in South Sudan learning new agricultural and marketing techniques so she can boost her harvest, and increase the price her produce demands

… or a child with a disability in a poor community, now able to go to school so one day they can serve as a teacher or engineer

… or LWF Nepal winning support from sources outside of ALWS, as you see below with Australia’s Ambassador to Nepal, Her Excellency Felicity Volk, at the handover ceremony for the medical equipment

… I thank you for everything you do to support the long-term sustainable development that brings success like this!


At the handover ceremony, the Ambassador noted 60 years of friendship between Australia and Nepal, and the Australian Government’s $7 million support in May to Nepal’s COVID response, including through LWF.

You’ll see below I have highlighted a couple of points from the Ambassador’s remarks:

“As the COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues in Nepal, the Australian Government is committed to supporting health security under our COVID-19 Development Response Plan. The plan focuses on providing assistance for the most vulnerable. With Nepal responding to multiple challenges simultaneously, the needs of marginalised communities are more evident than ever.”

Your work through ALWS is focused on the people Ambassador Volk highlights – those who are most vulnerable, and marginalised, and facing multiple challenges.

Too often, these people are forgotten, and their needs overlooked or ignored.

Yet, when I look at the example of Jesus, these are the very people he specially seeks out, welcomes, heals and upholds.

That’s why, as we look toward Christmas, and the special meaning it has for us in these times of COVID confusion, I think of all those you help …

… and tell you, from them, that you are a blessing ALWayS! Thank you!


PS: Ambassador Volk is a graduate of a Lutheran college here in Australia. Her dad, Noel, taught at the Lutheran College I attended back in the 70s!

HOPE Spot #46: Friday 10 December

How does your garden grow?

This is what courage looks like…

When you are a woman in South Sudan, you face all kinds of challenges.

If you’re a girl, school is a bonus, not a right.

When there’s work to be done, it’s you the family turns to.

It’s not just South Sudan.

In parts of Nepal, if you’re a woman or girl each month when your period comes, you are banished from the family. To sleep with the animals. Banned from using the same water source as everyone else.

In Somalia, 98% of women aged 15–49 have suffered some form of Female Genital Mutilation.

That’s why the courage of a woman like Yar Riak Mantel is so inspiring.

Despite everything she has suffered – because of poverty, and because she is a woman – she keeps picking herself up, and pushing herself forward, working to be the best she can be, despite never having the chance to go to school.

Washed out by floods once before, threatened by floods again now, Yar shows how your kindness invested in her courage can change the life of a family forever.

These last 16 days, there has been a worldwide campaign to make sure women and girls aren’t forgotten as countries like South Sudan and Nepal and Somalia seek to develop.

You can see why this is important when you listen to a woman like Yar Riak Mantel:

“I did not ever go to school.

I did not know anything about farming or growing vegetables.  I had no skills for doing it. 

I would fetch firewood and collect grasses to sell to get a little bit of food for the children.  I would walk for three hours or more to do this.  I could only buy maize or sorghum and then pound and grind it to feed them once a day.

It was very hard to get food for the children.  This means the children are always getting sick because they do not have enough food. 

I felt frustrated when I could see my children starving.  It affects how you feel as a mother. 

I felt bad.

Life was hard. 

I heard about a group who were learning about farming and I was interested in joining, but they said their group was full. I came back and spoke to others near where I live, and we formed our own group and asked LWF to help us.

I came three times a week, for three to four hours each time. 

I learnt how to produce quality seeds and how it is important to have a clean farm – no weeds. LWF taught us about line planting, spacing of the seeds and about fertiliser.   We made a group garden together. 

From what I was learning I made a small garden at my house too.

From this garden at my house, I had some vegetables that I could feed the children and then even sell some at the market.  From the savings, I was able to buy a goat!

But then the flood came and destroyed all the crop our group had planted, so now we have no harvest and no seed.

We are hoping we can plant some vegetables in the dry season. But I am worried that I won’t have good food to eat, and I won’t have enough milk for the new baby and it will get sick easily.

Our country has had problems for a long time, but you have helped. 

I appreciate your help and I have learnt many things.  I have enjoyed the group because it has helped me with knowledge and I can use this and be able to care for my family hopefully, even after the Group. 

I still hope that you can help as the crops have failed. 

Please continue to help us grow as a country. Your help encourages us to send our children to school so that they can change the future of our living.

We can keep going forward.”

Today is International Human Rights Day.

Thank you for all you do through ALWS to support the Human Rights of girls and women like Yar Riak Mantel … standing with them to restore hope, and build a life where they are free to achieve all that God has made them to be.


PS: As you know, South Sudan where Yar Riak Mantel lives, has been devastated by floods. Next season’s harvest has been washed away. You can provide a Family Food Kit for someone like Yar for $111 PLUS you donation is matched dollar for dollar by a Lutheran couple from Queensland! Simply donate here.

HOPE Spot #45: Monday 6 December

Start your summer with a smile …

Summer is here! Sun and sand and sea are in sight!

Yet, it’s not all smiles.



Omicron COVID threatens to mess up plans for our families to get together at Christmas. Farmers still have crops to be harvested.

Floods attack the east coast of Australia (and South Sudan).

If that uncertainty is making you feel bad …

… the children you help at Kakuma Refugee Camp have a message for you:



Need more encouragement? See another 60 seconds of smiles right here.

You can still use Gifts of Grace to give your ALWS help to these children in refugee camps this Christmas:

  • $6 provides porridge, beans and green vegetables for children when they reach safety at Kakuma
  • $8 can supply a School Kit for children in Somalia – exercise books, pencils, sharpener, eraser and pen
  • $120 means refugee children left as orphans, or lost and on their own, can be taken in by a foster family at Kakuma

When you give ALWS Gifts of Grace you give smiles to the children you help … to the people who receive your Grace Cards … and to you too!

What a special way to start your summer! I echo what the children of Kakuma say:

“You are good people!”

Watch 60 seconds of smiles now!


PS: There is still time to order your Gifts of Grace – but please do it now! Our ALWS volunteers will pack your Grace Cards in an ExpressPost Pack, and then it’s over to Australia Post to get it to you before Christmas!

Drawings and photos supplied by: LWF Kenya/D. Akun/students

Spot #44: Friday 3 December

Watch what you are doing…

Do you wear a watch?

Many think it’s a bit old-fashioned these days …

… and use mobile phones to run their life

… but a phone can never look as good as these:

Yes, I probably need to be an octopus to have enough wrists to make full use of my collection …

… but my watches would make me very popular with Mr Rajkumar Sah, a watch-repairer whose business you helped build in Morang in Nepal.

Rajkumar is one of 4,866 people with disabilities who people like you supported through ALWS last year.

Today – International Day for People with Disabilities – is the perfect time to watch what people like Rajkumar are now doing with their lives.

“I used to repair watches moving around the community and market

with my repairman box hanging on my neck.

 I did not have sufficient money to rent a permanent place before.

 I got support from Lutheran and rented a shutter to establish

a shop in a permanent place and started this business.”

“Now, my repair shop has been extended

with more tools and equipment and electronic items.

I sell electronic items, do printing, upload songs and movies

as per the request of customers, and provide

printing services as well for my additional income.”

Through ALWS, you focus your care on people at risk of being forgotten – people with disabilities, the elderly, the sick, those pushed aside simply because they are women.

Your support helps people turn their skills and energy and ideas into flourishing businesses, so they can be independent, and win respect in their community.

4,866 people. What a gift you give!

Rajkumar is excited to explain how the practical support you provide through LWF Nepal and Lutheran Community Welfare Services builds hope in people like him:

“Lutheran is supporting us for capacity development training,

logistics support for social events, and activities for disability rights advocacy.”

“Many persons with disabilities obtained disability ID cards, allowances,

vocational and skill-based training programs, business start-up support like me.”


Now, more than 900 people with disabilities in just Morang have been registered to receive the same kind of support you gave Rajkumar through ALWS.

Rajkumar now serves as volunteer secretary of an organisation for people with disabilities:

“On behalf of myself and my organisation,

we would like to thank Lutheran

for their generous support for people with disabilities.”

I pass that ‘thank you’ on to you.

I hope you have enjoyed being ble to watch what you are doing here in Morang where, for people with a disability, you are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: With his business thriving, I just hope Rajkumar keeps a careful ‘watch’ on what he is doing, so he has enough ‘time on his hands’, to repair my watch collection before ‘time runs out’! (I think I should ‘clock off’ now!)

Photos: LWF Nepal / LCWS



HOPE Spot #43: Friday 26 November

When spring is sprung

How did that happen?

5 minutes ago it was winter. Now in 5 days it will be summer.

I’m not sure we actually had a spring. My poor little tomato plants were so busy shivering from the cool and wet, they have forgotten to grow.

I may need gardening advice from Widow Maksuda, who you care for in the refugee camp for Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh …

… because if I could get my tomatoes growing like Maksuda’s chillies, I could open a homemade tomato sauce business!

Yet, before your help through ALWS, Maksuda and her daughter Dhola and Dhola’s 5 year old son, struggled to have enough to eat … and had no money to buy extra.

Through our ALWS partners LWF and RDRS Bangladesh, you make sure at-risk families like Maksuda’s aren’t forgotten in the midst of the 745,000 refugees in camps here.

Maksuda was trained to use plastic boxes as vegetable gardens:

“I was provided with two plastic boxes with some vegetable plants.
Both the eggplants and chillies started fruiting in the last two months.

I was able to consume some of those with my family and I sold
the rest to the local Rohingya market in the camp.”

Two vegetables … two amazing outcomes.

First, an improved diet for the family. Second, a new source of income, to buy fish and household essentials, medical care and even school when grandson is ready!

What’s exciting is your help uses the ‘Nudge’ approach.

You give a little push to get people started, and then their hard work and skills and ideas build momentum. You can see proof this works in Maksuda’s achievements:

 “Growing vegetable in the plastic boxes is a great idea.

 I really like this idea because I can move the plastic boxes anywhere, which means I have a ‘movable vegetable garden’ now. I do not need a fixed place for this. I do not have to get in negotiations and quarrel with my neighbours over the occupation of land, as the camp is so hugely overcrowded.

 I have now planted two bean plants in one of the boxes. I will keep planting different types of vegetables in the boxes and I’ll also purchase more plastic boxes on my own to increase my production.”

Your help here is focused on widows, single mothers, the elderly and women with disabilities. These are the people with extra needs, the most vulnerable, and your kindness through ALWS action like Gifts of Grace is life-transforming.

You can see this in daughter Dhola, who benefits from the $10 Tree Saplings Gift of Grace you can give …

You support Dhola with a small daily wage to plant trees to restore the environment around the refugee camps. (Trees were chopped down as refugees needed firewood for cooking.)

Before this work, Dhola says she felt a burden to the family. Now:

“I contribute a part of my earnings to the family.

This work has made me ‘an important person’ in the family.

I have kept some money for myself and have a plan
 to establish a grocery store in the community.

It will be a permanent income source for me in future.”

I don’t know if YOU grow veggies…

… but you certainly grow hope here in the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. You can see that in these smiles:

You still have time to order Gifts of Grace for this Christmas …

… but don’t let your spring get sprung. Our ALWS volunteers are ready to pack your order, but mail can be sluggish through December.

(Just thought I’d give you a ‘nudge’ too 😊!)


PS: Your ALWS action joins with churches of many denominations from right across Australia, supported by the Australian Government, to help Rohingya refugee families like Maksuda’s. Thank you for being a blessing ALWayS!

 Photos: RDRS Bangladesh

HOPE Spot #42: Saturday 20 November

90km of children!

Jen, this is you at work at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya…

Today is celebrated as World Children’s Day.

I celebrate the tomorrows you give refugee children by supporting them to go to school.

Whether it’s each $26 raised for a year of school in Walk My Way

… an $8 School Kit from Gifts of Grace

… or simply your prayers

… take heart, knowing smiles of hope like this one started with you. Thank you!



Your kindness through ALWS supports our partner LWF to deliver education to 60,000 children at Kakuma – including children with disabilities. At 1.5 metre COVID-distancing, that’s a school line-up of refugee children 90 kilometres long!

Photos: LWF Kenya/D Akun

HOPE Spot #41: Friday 12 November

What a line-up!

Meet Hyacinth, Rose and Violet …

… the three new chooks in the Krause family!

(Previous chooks? One word. Fox. ☹)

I wanted to call the girls Hop, Skip and Jump, but was outvoted.

The ladies are looking pleased with themselves because they have just produced their first two eggs. Including one double-yolker!

(Smiles quickly turned to frowns though when the girls realised there were no food scraps from our family dinner last night to be their breakfast this morning!)

I marvel at chooks.

They are master recyclers – taking scraps and turning them into eggs for food. And fertiliser for veggie gardens. More food.

That’s why chickens are such a great Gifts of Grace.

Whether it’s a $5 hen or a complete chicken farm (6 hens, 2 roosters, bag of feed, water container, components to build coop) …

… chickens are easy to look after, cheap-cheep to feed, their eggs improve children’s health, they breed readily to produce an ongoing income for families!

I could egg you on forever about the egg-cellence of chooks, but thought I’d let someone else do the crowing for me:

Egg-cited? Get and give your own Hyacinth, Rose and Violet here in Gifts of Grace!




… a chook can recognise 100 different human faces?


HOPE Spot #40: Friday 5 November

Your flood of relief…

As 25,000 high-flying delegates gather in Glasgow for the UN Climate Conference …

… 29 families in this remote village in Nepal are homeless because of floods last month.

The Nepal floods killed more than 100 people, inundated 2,232 houses and destroyed 50,000 hectares of rice paddies.

Yet it’s easy for a world wrestling with global issues like COVID and changing climate 

… to forget the wrestling with daily needs as those issues threaten their lives.

Through ALWS, you help make sure people like these 29 homeless families are not forgotten.

Just 3 days after the peak of the floods, the LWF team you support in Nepal delivered to each family:

  • 15 kg rice        
  • 2 kg salt
  • 2 kg sugar            
  • 2 kg pulses/lentils
  • 2 soaps               
  • 2 litres of cooking oil

Your help was given to the families most at risk …

… the elderly, widows, households headed by women, people with a disability, those who are poorest

… people like this lady who faces all those challenges. (She is blind.)

If you want to know what your kindness means to those you help, listen to Ms. Kaladevi Giri who you see below receiving aid from your LWF team:

“It was very painful to all of us
to manage
our children and old age member,
as we lost all of our household belongings,
swept away in the flood.

These relief items will support me
to manage my family until we can revive our lives.

We really very much thank you for your support.”

Thank you for being willing to get knee-deep in muddy water to help people who had little before the floods …

… and after had nothing

… until you brought hope to their village through ALWS and our partner LWF.

Thank you – you are a blessing ALWayS!


Photos: LWF Nepal

GOOD NEWS: The Australian Government supports your life-restoring ALWS work in Nepal. Thank you!

HOPE Spot #39: Monday 18 October

Kick off!

Meet the Kakuma-Kalobeyei Football Club …

Through ALWS, you support these talented Under 14s players from Kakuma Refugee Camp and the local Turkana community in Kenya, as they kick-off in a big tournament this week!

You support 12 girls teams and 12 boys teams, providing footballs, goalposts and sports uniforms.

Football (soccer) is a passion here. It channels energy into positive action, and offers hope of a better future. Some of these youngsters could end up in the Kakuma All-Stars team, playing in the Kenya National League …

… or even become a Socceroo like Awer Mabil, (a refugee from South Sudan who came to Australia via Kakuma), and last week scored a goal in Australia’s World Cup qualifier!

As the tournament kicks-off …

… so does this year’s ALWS Gifts of Grace, helping make sure people in need aren’t forgotten this Christmas. At Kakuma, for $6, you can provide extra food for refugees who arrive needing special care.

Gifts of Grace catalogues went in the post last Friday.

However, COVID lockdowns have presented challenges to Australia Post, so arrival in letter-boxes may be slower than normal …

… and delivery of your Grace Cards, packed by ALWS volunteers, could be slower too.

That’s why I urge you to ‘score’ early and ORDER NOW (first 500 orders receive a FREE shine Tote Bag) …

… so you can ‘kick a goal’ with your Gifts of Grace gift-giving this Christmas!


PS: If you have any questions about Gifts of Grace, simply call 1300 763 407!


HOPE Spot #38: Friday 8 October

Daisy of our lives

Daisy is in Grade 4 at a Lutheran school in South Australia.

She needed little egging-on to hatch a plan for a rooster to boost the nest egg of a family in Cambodia:

“I raised $30 selling eggs at Dad’s office.

 I used it to buy some chickens in Gifts of Grace, and also a School Kit for some kids that needed it.”

Watch Daisy’s 90 second video here

… and she’ll share with you how egg-citing it was to help someone through ALWS Gifts of Grace.


Someone else egg-cited is Ket Put, who now has a chicken farm, thanks to Gifts of Grace from people like Daisy:

“I used to raise chickens, but was not successful. I was giving up.

I received training and now I know how to use vaccination, seed selection, chicken feeding, and chicken cage construction.

Now I have 100 chickens. I can get a good price  – $7 per kg – because this is a tourist area.”

You can see by Ket Put’s smile how much he enjoys having this new income and independence – though perhaps the chicken he’s holding does not quite share the same opinion!

You can get into the chicken business in Cambodia too with the brand new Gifts of Grace – out now!

Get cracking with a Hen for just $5 …

… or help build a whole Chicken Farm for $270:

6 x Hens
2 x Roosters
1 x Bag of Feed
1 x Water Container
Chicken Coop – nails, wood, roof, iron netting

Your kindness kick-starts a family business, selling surplus eggs and chickens. The income is not poultry 😊 and can pay school fees and health care costs!

When you give Gifts of Grace you shine hope through the gloom of COVID, and Daisy can tell you how that feels:

“It made me feel happy that I could help others in need.

 Before they didn’t have much, but now they have some chickens.

 I feel really happy I helped someone, and that it made them feel better.”

As for Ket Put, he simply says: I give my heartfelt thanks to donors.”

So, stop scratching around!

Give a Gifts of Grace this Christmas that’s definitely not chicken-feed (even though part of it is), and enjoy the happiest Daisy of our lives!


PS: Sorry for all the bad puns! You’re (c)lucky I couldn’t think of any more!

HOPE Spot #37: Friday 24 September

Grand Final? You are kicking goals too …

I don’t know if you care about tomorrow’s AFL footy Grand Final.

Maybe your team isn’t playing. Maybe you follow NRL. Maybe sport does for you what broccoli does for me (screwed up face, push as far away as possible).

Whatever you feel, I’m here to tell you that you are kicking goals – literally – at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Meet Kakuma United

Photo: LWF Kenya

… the first refugee team to play in the Kenyan National Football League! (Football = Soccer)

Kakuma United was set up and is supported by LWF (the front-line team you support through ALWS), working with the UNHCR (the UN body responsible for refugees).

The last time I went to Kakuma Refugee Camp, there were 900 football teams around the camp.

That’s not hard to believe, as 60% of the camp’s 187,000 refugees are youth and children.

Photo: ALWS

Wherever you turn (at least ex-COVID), you see soccer balls* being barefoot-booted in the dust.  Watch 20 second children’s ‘game’ here 😊

* Many ‘balls’ are simply rolled-up rags, or were a ball only in a far distant former life. ‘Goals’ may simply be two rocks or shirts.

Kakuma United is made up of young men from 7 different nationalities living as refugees in the camp, plus Kenyans from the local host community. Each game, thousands of people come out to cheer on their heroes.

Both Gal, one of the team’s first captains, said:

“We come from all different nationalities and have different beliefs and cultural identities,
but we all have one thing in common – a love of football.

It is the only thing that brings us together.”


Kakuma United is drawn from the best players in the 16 team Kakuma Premier League.

There are 10 female teams playing in the Divas League. 40 refugees have also been trained and certified as coaches.

Through ALWS, you provide the football equipment for 12 school-age teams for boys, and the same number for girls.

NB: Aliir Aliir, who stars in the backline for Port Power in the AFL, grew up playing football (soccer) at Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Photo: ALWS

While children dream of one day being good enough to join Kakuma United

… you also make sure young people with talents other than sport aren’t forgotten.

Through Kakuma’s Got Talent, you encourage and celebrate talents like singing, dancing, acrobatics and spoken word …

Photo: J Hoff/ALWS

… and you can see proof of the skills in just 9 seconds – here and here.

Meanwhile, Child Rights Clubs engage children in activities and discussions to increase their awareness of their rights, so abuses can be identified and reported.

All this is your work through ALWS. Thank you!

No matter who you follow (or don’t) in the footy …

… you’re in the Grand Final at Kakuma Refugee Camp, ALWayS kicking goals for thousands of refugee children and young people!


Photo: J Hoff/ALWS

HOPE Spot #36: Friday 10 September

Your COVID kindness isn’t chicken-feed – except sometimes 😊

You can see how proud this Rohingya lady is with the new chicken farm you helped provide through ALWS …  

… yet she can’t see you. She’s blind. 

She is one of the 750,000 Rohingya people forced by conflict in Myanmar to flee as refugees to Bangladesh, where you welcome them with ALWS care at Cox’s Bazar. 

Your kindness is critical here – not just because of what people suffer as refugees, but because only 3% of Bangladesh’s population is vaccinated against COVID-19. 


You care for those most at risk 

Through our ALWS and LWF partner, RDRS Bangladesh, your help is delivered to people who have lost everything.  

As always with your ALWS action, your care is focused on those in danger of being forgotten by the world. 

People with disabilities. The aged. Those who are sick.  

Women and girls who, in many places, face discrimination. 

You can see by this lady’s smile that your kindness isn’t chickenfeed! 

In fact, the chickens + coop + feeders + feed are a real source of hope while she and her family must stay here, in the world’s largest refugee camp.  

The meat and eggs provide an excellent source of protein for a family’s diet.  

Surplus eggs can be sold to create new family income! 

This is only one of the life-restoring activities you support at the refugee camp through ALWS. 


You restore the environment … 

While the local Bangladesh Muslim community generously welcomed the refugees from Myanmar, the sheer number of people put pressure on the environment. 

In many areas, the hillsides were stripped of trees to be used as firewood. 

This left the steep areas as a landslide threat, especially when monsoonal rains arrived – up to 300mm in one day. (Landslides and floods have already claimed a dozen lives.) 

What you do through ALWS is supply tree saplings to replant the hillsides, along with $5 a day wage for refugees to do the planting. (While this amount seems small to us, for people with disabilities of living with other special needs, it is a blessing.) 

The saplings are fast-growing varieties. Some have medicinal properties. Others will provide shade in the stifling heat of summer. All will work to hold together hillsides and stop erosion and landslides. 


You give humble hands-on help … 

Floods and landslides can clog up the drainage systems in the camp. 

This increases the risk of water-borne disease, creates breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes and damages hygiene for protection against COVID-19. 

There are no short-cuts to keeping drains clean. 

It’s humble, hands-on hard work. Behind-the-scenes. Out of the spotlight. Just getting done what needs to get done to keep people safe.  

You support this work by providing tools and training, and paying refugee-workers a cash allowance they can use to support their families. 


Chicken or egg? 

Getting back to the chicken (and eggs) you provide to Rohingya refugees living with disability or other special needs … 

… before any action starts (chicken first, or egg?), the team you support sits down and consults with the people – which is what you see happening in the photo above. 

What gives me hope during this time when COVID is doing so much to keep people apart … 

… is that kindness can bring us together, as side-by-side we support those suffering most.  

You can see this in the logos on the back of the front-line team’s T-shirt.  

You, here in Australia … 

… through ALWS 

… partner with caring people from the Czech Republic  

… and from Germany 

… to help make sure Rohingya people from Myanmar 

… now refugees in Bangladesh 

… are not forgotten 

… and can receive the care they need. 

Yet again you are a blessing. ALWayS. Thank you! 



PS: If you’d like to add extra support for Rohingya refugees facing COVID-19 in Bangladesh, you are welcome – simply donate here. Thank you!  

Photos: RDRS Bangladesh/B. Wadud – August 2021

HOPE Spot #35: Sunday 5 September


As we give thanks for fathers today …

… let me pass on thanks from some of the fathers you help through ALWS.


(If they could do it in person, you’d receive a gift of egg-plants, chicken and maize!)

Photo: LWD


“My family was selected by LWD as a partner household in March 2020.

I was given the opportunity to attend the training on climate change resilient vegetable growing, using drip system techniques.

With the knowledge and skill gained from the training, and some drip materials and vegetable seeds, I have started growing vegetables in October 2020.

As a result, I could earn income at KHR 80,000 ($25 AUD) a day from selling vegetables.

I use this income for food, clothes, and my kids’ education. I enjoy the income from vegetable growing and I will enlarge my vegetable plot.

Lastly, I am very thankful for all generous supports from LWD and donors.” 

Mr. CHEA Sopheap

LWD = Life With Dignity, your ALWS partner in Cambodia




Photo: LWD


Before your help through ALWS, Mr Ket Put struggled to survive in his village in Cambodia. He searched the forests for firewood to sell, but it was never enough to support his family, and also made him dangerously sick.

So it was life-changing when Mr Put was selected for chicken-raising training you support …

“I am excited to be equipped with this skill because I used to raise chickens but was not successful. I was giving up.

“Now I have learnt on how to use vaccination, chicken seed selection, chicken feeding, and chicken cage construction.” 

Mr Put started a chicken farm with a loan of $250AUD, which he used to build a cage and purchase 100 chicks.

“I have changed from what I had practiced before. I now apply technical knowledge and skills from the training such as protective net, vaccination, nutrition feeding, water supply and so on”.

One year after starting the farm, Mr Put was able to sell chickens to generate $600 to repay his loan, and re-invest in the farm.

“My community has potential of tourist sites, which is favorable for a good price for my chickens – $7 per kilogram. Now I do not worry about market anymore.

I give my heartfelt thanks to all donors.”




Photo: LWD


Bhimlal Marandi (on the right) is a member of a farmer’s cooperative you support in Nepal through ALWS.

“We are very grateful to Lutheran for providing Maize Sheller machine. This makes it easy for us to peel the maize and dry it in time for store. This means there are no losses and damages due to rain, even in this rainy season. We can easily store it after peeling and drying.

“We have developed a guideline to use the machine on rotation basis.

“Cooperative members pay 1 kg of maize while they use it to peel 40 kg of maize . If people are not members of the cooperative, they have to pay 2 Kgs of maize to peel 40 kg. This helps the cooperative grow stronger.

“The Maize Sheller is very easy to operate, and you can bring it wherever you want to do maize peeling.

“My wife is so happy that she does not have to wake up the whole night to peel the maize.

Now, we together work to peel the maize!”


No matter how you spend Father’s Day today …

… I pray this message of thanks from the Dads you help through ALWS will bring you a smile of joy, and shine hope into your life, in these tough COVID times!


PS: When your new Gifts of Grace arrives next month, you will be able to buy and give Vegetable Seeds, Chicken Farms and Maize Shellers … so more Dads, and Mums, and Seniors, and people with disabilities, and children will be smiling!


HOPE Spot #34: Wednesday 1 September

How you hold onto hope in Haiti

When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, Prospery Raymond was buried in the rubble.

Raymond was rescued, but had friends among the 200,000 people who died.

Now, Raymond is leading the LWF* team you support in Haiti, as they take your care to people hurt by the 7.2 earthquake on Saturday 14 August.

Here is Raymond’s report to you:

“The area is still reeling from more than 500 aftershocks

– some as strong as the original quake –

that make it hard for the rescue efforts.

The first steps we took were to gather information,

to advise people about where to find shelter and protection.”


DKH/LWF/NCA office staff register earthquake survivors at Camp Perrin in the south of Haiti.

Photo: ACT Alliance / DKH


“Now we urgently need money to rebuild water and sanitation facilities

and to distribute hygiene kits. We have a truck with water filters,

a specialised WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) team

and people working in the worst affected communities,

many in remote mountain areas, fixing broken water systems.”


Your support is critical in repairing water systems to prevent an outbreak of cholera.

Photo: ACT Alliance


“Some people are desperately trying to patch up their houses,

but they run the risk of the buildings collapsing on them.

The good news is that we trained many masons after previous disasters

and are better prepared to obtain the necessary government permits.”


People struggle on as best they can in the rubble of their homes. Rebuilding costs are around $6,500 per home in Haiti.

Photo: ACT Alliance


“I’m a donor myself and I’ve been encouraging others as well.

It’s the least we can do to help those in need –

Haitians helping Haitians, not just relying on help from outside.

Right now people are scared, and I often feel scared too,

but our work offers hope and dignity, to empower people

and to show how we can live out our faith through action.”


Prospery Raymond, director of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) country program in Haiti.

Photo: Christian Aid


This year though we still feel COVID clawing at us, dragging us down, even to despair.

We look further and see the crisis in Afghanistan, and the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti. Like Raymond, and the people he and his LWF team serve, we too may feel scared.


Yet Raymond also gives us 4 reasons to hold onto hope:

  1. Haitians helping Haitians – wherever you help people through ALWS, you can be certain those you support work as hard as you to make things better
  2. … our work offers hope and dignity – no matter how vulnerable people may be, or how forgotten by a self-focused world, you meet them with respect and love
  3. … to empower peoplethrough ALWS, you don’t just repair houses and water systems, you partner people as they rebuild their lives and restore their future
  4. … live our faith through action – your faith and values go beyond mere words, as your ALWS action testifies to the power of love to heal lives


So, on this first day of spring, my prayer is that the new life you see bursting forth around you will remind you of the new life you bring to others through ALWS.

That’s how we hold onto hope. ALWayS.


PS: You can see more of your front-line work in Haiti here.


* LWF = Lutheran World Federation. LWF has been working in Haiti since 1995. LWF works in partnership with Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and the German Protestant relief agency Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH), as part of a worldwide churches response through ACT Alliance.


HOPE Spot #33: Friday 27 August

Afghanistan agony – your ALWS action

We woke this morning to new horror in Afghanistan.

Terrorist attacks at the international airport have left 60 people dead and 140 people injured.

The threat of further attacks remain.

Next Tuesday’s 31 August deadline for total withdrawal looms.

No one knows what comes next.

For girls and women. For those forced from their homes. For those left behind.

I struggled to know whether I could even call this a HOPE Spot amid all this horror.

I still struggle.

All I can think to do is share with you a plan we received in the last 48 hours about how your ALWS help for Afghanistan will be put to work through one of our ACT Alliance partners. Donate now

The on-ground partner has decades of experience working in Afghanistan.


Working together through them, and with other partners:


    • 660 households
    • displaced from their homes
    • 4,620 people


    • women
    • elderly-headed households
    • widows
    • orphans
    • people with disabilities


    • Kabul City
    • many people are living in tents
    • others staying with family and friends already poor


    • one-off cash grant of $125 ($USD 90)
    • based on meeting needs of family of 7 for 30 days
    • families use this money to buy food and other household essentials
    • cash grant means they can buy what they decide they need most
    • this method of aid respects people’s dignity
    • the local economy is also supported

Donate now

(If it suits you better to phone your donation, simply call 1300 763 407.)

Time-frame Plan

    • 25 August to 25 October


    • security situation
    • 40% of crops lost to drought (WFP)
    • one in 3 families face food insecurity (UN)
    • bitter winter is approaching fast


You will understand how challenging this situation is, and how plans may have to change.

What won’t change is our commitment, following the example of Jesus, to do everything we can to make sure the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan are not forgotten.

Your prayers if you feel called … your donation if you can … your kindness ALWayS …

… these are the ways we can find hope in this horror.


PS: You can find updated reports and plans for your ALWS Afghanistan action, as we receive them, here


How your donation is used wisely

You help with practical care:

Your donation will help people affected by the Afghanistan crisis, and will be used to support emergency and recovery efforts to protect people and support them to build better and safer lives. Any money raised beyond what is needed to respond to the Afghanistan crisis will be used in other ALWS aid and development projects to help people threatened by COVID-19, poverty and injustice.

Information in this communication is based on data correct at time of writing, and may change. Funds and other resources designated for the purpose of aid and development will be used only for those purposes and will not be used to promote a particular religious adherence or to support a political party, or to promote a candidate or organisation affiliated to a particular party, or to support welfare activities as defined by DFAT. For more information, call: 1300 763 407

Being careful with your care: In the COVID-19 year of 2020, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 15.3%. The 5 year average is 14.6%. A copy of the most current ALWS Annual Report can be viewed at or requested: 1300 763 407

Your privacy is important to us: ALWS collects personal information about you in order to process your gift. A copy of the ALWS Privacy Policy is available at

If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to

Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is The Overseas Aid & Development Agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia – ABN 36 660 551 871

HOPE Spot #32: Monday 23 August

Afghanistan, Haiti – hold on to hope

Thank you for caring about people threatened by the crisis in Afghanistan, and hurt by the earthquake in Haiti.

Even as ALWS works through the challenges of finding the most effective way to take your help to those most in need …

… we are encouraged by the kindness and compassion we already see in people wanting to give their help.


AFGHANISTAN                 DONATE NOW * 1300 763 407

We have received communication from the partners we plan to work through in Afghanistan.

For security reasons, they have asked that details of their plans be kept confidential for now, along with the names of the partners. The photos that follow come from the front line …

Here you see families forced from their homes as IDPs (Internally Displaced People). They come from Hiland, Kundoz and Orizgan provinces.        
Photo: ACT Alliance


What I can tell you is that the plan is to help 50,000 families both within and outside Afghanistan, as part of a worldwide church action through ACT Alliance.

It is clear high priority needs are likely to include:

  • food
  • shelter
  • household essentials
  • health
  • capacity building of local aid workers


IDPs are forced to leave everything behind as they flee to safety. Here you see people from Kandahar, Helmand, Orozgan and Kundoz provinces.        
Photo: ACT Alliance


There will be extensive consultations with local community leadership, to support security and effectiveness of aid-delivery teams. The partners ALWS plans to work with have 30 years of experience serving in Afghanistan.

It’s vital the world does not forget the needs of people left behind in the Afghanistan crisis, like these IDPs in Saray. Girls and women are terrified of the uncertain future they face. You can imagine how confused children must be about what has happened to life.
Photo: ACT Alliance




Tragically, the toll from the 7.2 earthquake in Haiti on Saturday 14 August continues to grow. Latest reports state:

  • more than 2,200 people have lost their lives
  • 9,900 people are injured
  • 332 people missing
  • 52,953 houses destroyed
  • 77,006 houses damaged

According to the Haiti Civil Protection Agency, more than 600,000 people need humanitarian assistance. Tens of thousands of people are homeless after their houses were destroyed.
Photo: ACT Alliance


The Prime Minister of Haiti, Ariel Henry, has declared a one month state of emergency:

“Haiti is now on its knees.

The earthquake that devastated a large part of the south of the country proves once again our limits, and how fragile we are.”

As a Christian aid agency, ALWS too is on our knees as we seek God’s guidance in how best we take your care to people hurt by the earthquake in Haiti.


ALWS partners with LWF Haiti, working through the ACT Alliance of churches from around the world joining together to serve people in need.

ALWS has stepped out in faith and plans to commit at least $25,000 to the emergency response in Haiti. Rapid Assessment Teams, like the one you see here, identify the highest priorities for action.

Photo: ACT Alliance


Critical needs already identified by ACT Forum Rapid Assessment Teams include:

  • shelter
  • hygiene kits
  • emergency cash & vouchers
  • psychosocial support
  • safe drinking water
  • repair and reconstruction of houses and schools
  • repair of water sources

Your help is planned to be delivered as a Survivor and Community-Led Response, including using a community cash grant mechanism.


Safe water is a critical priority. Ongoing tremors mean people are too scared to sleep inside if their homes managed to survive the quake. Tropical Storm Grace has brought flooding rain, and there is increasing danger of deadly cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Donate: click here * 1300 763 407



Thank you for reading this far.

It’s proof of your kindness and compassion, and the fact you are still willing to think about others, even as we in Australia battle the despair of ongoing COVID lockdowns.

If prayer is part of your personal ministry to people in need, I have listed at the end of this email some of the points I am using in my personal prayers.

As I finish this update for now, I’m sure you’ll understand that communications from both Haiti and Afghanistan are extremely difficult. This means the details I can share with you are not as complete as I’d like. However, we will continue to update news here.

For now, if you feel moved to help in these disasters now, as you have so generously helped people in need before – thank you! Simply donate here or call 1300 763 407.

Whatever you do, the help you give helps people
hold on to hope … and is a blessing ALWayS.


PS: Our office in Albury is subject to the NSW-wide COVID-19 lockdown. Your ALWS team are working from home, with a skeleton crew in the office. Please forgive us if there is any delay in sending your receipt. If you have questions, you are welcome to call 1300 763 407 or email Thank you!




  • Girls and women – so fearful of what the future may hold
  • The elderly, sick, people with disabilities, children – the most vulnerable who can be forgotten in crises like this
  • Australian Government – to be generous in rescuing and welcoming those at risk
  • Frontline aid workers – safety, and wisdom in dealing with difficult situations
  • Taliban leadership – that their hearts be moved, to lead the country with care and compassion
  • Military and civil forces who served in Afghanistan – comfort that their efforts weren’t in vain
  • Families who lost loved ones serving in Afghanistan – comfort
  • Government leaders of all countries involved – wisdom, compassion, vision, generosity, grace


  •  protect those who are now homeless
  • open transport routes, and ensure safety, to speed the delivery of emergency aid
  • comfort those who have lost loved ones
  • keep people safe from cholera and other water-borne diseases, and COVID-19


  • God’s guidance as we work together to save lives
  • protection for front-line staff and the challenges and dangers they face
  • generosity from Australians seeking to bring love to life


HOPE Spot #31: Wednesday 10 August

Afghanistan, Haiti, Hope

These are challenging times.

The world wrestles with the ongoing COVID crisis.

Australia seems to be in never-ending lockdowns, and people despair at the isolation, impact on business and separation from loved ones.

The people of Haiti are struck by a 7.2 earthquake that has left more than 1,900 people dead … while homeless survivors must now face Tropical Storm Grace.

The people of Afghanistan – especially girls and women – fear an uncertain world as the Taliban take control of the country.

It can be hard to see hope through all the hurt.

Let me show you first how ALWS is responding to these crises, and the part you can play …

… and then I will reflect on where you and I can see hope even when times are darkest.



AFGHANISTAN CRISIS                         

If you saw the images of panicked people at Kabul airport running after, then trying to cling to, a military aircraft taking off …

… or the 600 people cross-legged crammed in the belly of a Galaxy aircraft

… or women and girls terrified about what their fate will be under the Taliban

… your heart can’t help but be broken about what these people face.

As you’d understand, it is extremely challenging to take practical action to help people affected by the crisis in Afghanistan. For now, this is what ALWS is doing on your behalf:


ALWS is working to join with church partners both here in Australia, and around the world, planning to provide help when able to those in danger from the Afghanistan crisis – now, and in the months ahead. Plans are being developed. 


ALWS is supporting efforts of the Refugee Council of Australia to advocate to the Australian Parliament about rescuing those in immediate danger from the Afghanistan crisis.

(Click here to see the letter ALWS has signed, along with 300 other organisations, including Lutheran Church Australia.)


Here at ALWS, we have confidence in the power of prayer – especially when our human strength seems too weak for the world we face. So, ALWS has set up a Prayer Action for Thursday 19 August at 5.00pm AEST, led by Pastor Simon Cooper (a Lutheran minister, ALWS Board Member) and Leah Odongo (ALWS Program Director). If you would like to join this prayer time, click on the Zoom link below

Topic: Prayer for Afghanistan (ALWS)

Time: Aug 19, 2021 05:00 PM Australia/Melbourne

Join Zoom Meeting link:

Meeting ID: 930 7530 9769        Passcode: 299907



The news from Haiti, after the 7.2 earthquake on Saturday, continues to get worse:

  • 1,941 people killed
  • 9,900 people injured
  • 37,312 houses destroyed
  • 46,913 buildings damaged
  • 540,000 children affected (UNICEF)

Photo: Jude St Gilles, Fondation Nouvelle Grand’Anse (FNGA)

Local authorities fear the death and injury toll will continue to rise as rescuers reach remote regions. Meanwhile the threat of diseases spread by dirty water grows as Tropical Storm Grace floods the country …

… and the danger is Haiti will be forgotten as the world focuses on Afghanistan and COVID.

That’s why ALWS plans to commit at least $25,000 to protect survivors, and support them to rebuild their lives.

If your heart calls you to help here, you can donate for Haiti.

NB: Our ALWS partner, LWF Haiti, reports staff are safe, and able to take a lead role in planned action by churches from around the world through ACT Alliance.



Jen, I have worked in overseas aid agencies for more than 30 years.

My calling is to support people like you to help others – from survivors of the Rwanda massacre, to families who lost everything in the Boxing Day Tsunami, to victims of Ethiopian famines, and now to Haiti and Afghanistan.

When things are worst, I draw courage from three things:

  • my Christian faith
  • the kindness of people like you who find a way to help others, even when you have challenges in your own life
  • the courage and resilience of the people you help, who work so hard and sacrifice so much to build a better life for their families

So now, when the world seems dark, let me encourage you with words from the prophet Isaiah, 58:10

Give your food to the hungry
and care for the homeless.

Then your light
will shine in the dark …

Thank you for your kindness and compassion, as you work hard to bring hope to those who have lost so much. As you do, you shine light into the darkness, and are a blessing ALWayS.


HOPE Spot #30: Wednesday 10 August


As the grey gloom of COVID lockdowns settles over so much of Australia …

… here’s something from Loxton Lutheran School in SA I thought might brighten your day!

Just like you, the Loxton school family cares for children at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, through ALWS actions like Walk My Way and Gifts of Grace.

Last month the school held an ALWS Action Day to bring love to life …

… what might make you go mmmmmmmmmmm is the way what Loxton did matches what you do at Kakuma. Take a look …



Loxton …


Kakuma …



Loxton …

Kakuma …


Mums (and dads)

Loxton …


Kakuma …


Marking time

Loxton …


Kakuma …



Loxton …


Kakuma …



Loxton Lutheran School is not a big school – less than 150 students …

… yet they were bold enough to aim to raise enough money to support 100 refugee children in school for a year – $26 per child.

When Julie from ALWS spoke at the Chapel that started Loxton’s day, she challenged them to raise enough for 150 children, to match the number of students at Loxton.

An impossible challenge, you’d think …

… but that’s when the fun began!

  • Kindy and Preps walked laps of the oval for 26 minutes
  • Years 2 – 4 walked 4 kilometres to the Murray River boat ramp and back (rushing before the rain set in)
  • Years 5 – 7 set off to walk 12 kilometres to be back at school by 12pm (but rain washed them back by 11!)
  • so, the whole school went to the gym and danced for 26 minutes while it poured outside
  • Year 7 organised a lunchtime food stall
  • Year 3s had a craft stall and face/hair painting

Guess what?

At the end-of-day assembly, Loxton announced they’d raised $4,000 – enough to support 150 refugee children in school at Kakuma for a year!

What’s amazing is Loxton didn’t stop helping …

… and have now DOUBLED the number of refugee children they support to go to school!


Murray …

Loxton is located on a bend in the River Murray. It may be a long way from the Murray citrus blocks and vineyards of Loxton to the dust and dry of Kakuma Refugee in Kenya …

… but kindness crosses the mmmmmiles, and love brings us close – even when COVID tries to get in the way. May you have a bright beautiful day today!



PS: Riley is a Year 10 student and volunteered to help his mum Trudy at Loxton Lutheran School’s ALWS Day.

(Trudy runs the canteen.)

Riley shared that he had been inspired by an ALWS Awareness Day when he was at Loxton Lutheran School …

… and now wanted to be a teacher or a missionary

… or work with ALWS!


HOPE Spot #29: Friday 6 August

Not so trivial…

Hmmm, more COVID lockdowns. More lining up for tests.

Last Sunday I completed a 14 day quarantine at home, after going to Melbourne for my daughter’s 30th birthday.

The only time I was allowed out was for my for COVID tests on Days 1, 5 and 13.

I’d seen the queues on the TV news, so got up early for the 7am Drive-Thru Testing Station 5 minutes from my place. I was Car 15.

Two hours later I was Car 5.

I was also cold. Hungry. Bored. (There’s only a certain amount of trivia you can find in a car to amuse you.)

And yes, I was a bit grumpy.

Akeer lives in South Sudan.

You can see by Akeer’s smile the impact your ALWS help is having on her life.

But look behind the smile and you will see that suffering is not far away:

“When people came and were shooting, I ran.  I felt fear.  My husband died in the conflict.  I didn’t know whether I would survive.  

 We did not have enough food.  We would only eat once a day.  When you are so very hungry, you feel you can’t have anything. You feel weak.

 I felt miserable to see my children hungry.  I didn’t want to have this life.  

 The children were often sick.  If I took them to the public health place, they did not have enough medicine to give to us.  If they tested to have malaria, I did not have enough money to buy medicine.”

Akeer’s life makes my COVID complaints seem trivial.

According to UNICEF, one in 10 children in South Sudan die before they are 5 years old.

Hunger. Sickness. Poverty. They’re child-killers here.

So it’s no wonder Akeer worries so deeply for her little ones – especially when countries like South Sudan are so often forgotten by the world.

The faith community at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Rochedale Queensland have seen the needs of families like Akeer’s …

… and taken on the very-non-trivial challenge to support the building of a Health Centre in South Sudan through ALWS.

They have already held a Walk My Way

… now, on Saturday 21 August, they plan an Online Trivia Night.

It promises to be full of fun and surprises – perhaps even an on-line guest speaker from South Sudan – and you are invited to FREE register a team!

Because the Trivia Night is online, you can:

invite family and friends to join your team from anywhere in the world

distract yourself if you are still in COVID lockdown (and bored)

not worry about how many visitors are allowed at your house

… have plenty of the snacks you like best

stop being grumpy if you are in a queue at a COVID Testing Station 😊!

Seriously, building and setting up a Health Centre in a place like South Sudan is a big challenge …

… and that’s why Our Saviour’s really hope you join the On-line Trivia Night or simply add your donation to their life-saving effort.

When you look at Akeer’s children, knowing how dangerous life is for children under 5 in South Sudan, even before COVID …

… you know there’s nothing trivial about this Health Centre that can bring hope where there is so much hurt. A blessing ALWayS!


PS: ALWS had an on-line team for last year’s On-line Trivia Night with people in Brisbane, Adelaide, Albury, Sydney and Melbourne. It was a lot of fun, even though my own personal area of expertise – bad 70s music – wasn’t as useful as I’d hoped! Thank you for all you do to bless people like Akeer and her children!

HOPE Spot #28: Monday 2 August

Gumboots, hard hats and life-jackets …

No, this is not how Queenslanders (free from lockdown) prepare if they have to head down south during winter …

… rather, this is how you help people in the poorest communities in Nepal prepare for the deadly danger that comes with the monsoon season.

Through ALWS, you work in Jhapa District, where people are at risk from flooding and landslides – at the same time as they face a COVID-19 surge, and ongoing poverty.

When local authorities surveyed the needs, they found 687 families at risk from flooding.

That’s why the help you gave through our ALWS partner, LWF Nepal, to the people in Jhapa is so important:

Your life-protecting ALWS help

Life jacket


Safety helmet


Search light


Gum boots


Hand axe


Rescue gloves


Nylon rope

100 metres


When the chairperson of Jhapa Rural Municipality, Mr Jay Narayan Shah, accepted your help, he first thanked you for also supporting the community to build a Quarantine Centre for victims of COVID-19.

Responding to your new disaster-preparedness support, Mr Shah said:

“These emergency items are vital for our Rescue Teams during this flooding season. The teams need to be confident about their own personal safety before they set out to rescue others, and that is why we are so thankful for this generous support.”

Your search and rescue support is part of a wider Disaster Response Plan, implemented by the local Social Network for Justice and Development, that also includes:

  • Early Warning System
  • Safety Net Scheme
  • Community Grain Bank
  • Disaster-preparedness training

Thank you for your kindness to people who might otherwise be forgotten.

In Nepal, your ALWS care is focused on people who suffer discrimination like the outcaste Dalit …

people with disabilities …

landless people and former bonded labourers …

people suffering simply because they are women.

For all those you keep safe during Nepal’s monsoon season, you are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: You can see more of your ALWS action in Nepal at OR call 1300 763 407. Your work in Nepal is in partnership with the Australian Government, so you are welcome to donate 5:1. Thank you!

Give your food to the hungry
and care for the homeless.

Then your light will shine
in the dark …

Isaiah 58:10 (CEV)

Photos: LWF Nepal


HOPE Spot #27: Friday 23 July

Need a smile? I can help…

COVID’s a beast, isn’t it?

You can feel the lockdowns and isolation sapping the joy out of life.

That’s why I thought you might need a smile today …

This is the classroom window at Prince of Peace Lutheran College in Queensland.

Each paper cut-out represents a refugee child the school has supported to go to school through ALWS Walk My Way.

If you count carefully … these windows and a dozen others … you’ll see 615 refugee children now in school! And Prince of Peace are working hard to help more!

Makes you smile, doesn’t it?

Come with me now into another school – at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Many of the refugee children you help have suffered trauma. Your LWF (Lutheran World Federation) team has developed an art and play manual to help them recover*.

More than 20,000 refugee girls at Kakuma are receiving Pre-school and Primary School education. (Many girls have missed out on school because of their refugee journey, being forced to work as child labour, or facing the threat of early marriage.)

During COVID lockdowns at Kakuma, LWF team members like Veronica take school from classrooms into home-shelters…

… radios were provided to families, and LWF partnered with local radio stations to deliver school on the air

… when COVID lockdowns ended, it was a joy for students to start classroom learning  again and work together for success

…  the kind of success 18 year old Reech Kuol achieved when he scored an amazing 408 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education …

… and you can see what Reech’s success meant to his family and friends. Joy like this starts with people like you, and the school family at Prince of Peace, willing to give $26 to support a refugee child in school for a year

… so dedicated LWF teams can overcome the challenges, and take your help where you are most needed

… to recruit and train teachers, many of whom are refugees themselves

… making sure that children with special needs aren’t forgotten, and receive any extra support they need to join in school too*

So, even though COVID means we may have to keep our distance …
and lockdowns hold us apart … as masks try to hide what we feel …

… nothing can stop your kindness breaking through … bringing you close …
to build the hope that creates smiles like this …

Thank you for all you do for others through ALWS.

I pray that seeing the joy you bring through ALWS will give you a measure of joy too during these tough COVID times.

You are a blessing ALWayS!


PS: If you aren’t smiling by now, you may want to check you are not a paper cut-out, like those at Prince of Peace 😊 !


Don’t forget those who are suffering, but imagine you are there with them.
Hebrews 13:5 (CEV)

* The LWF team you support is also supported by the US Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Photos: LWF Kenya / P.Omagwa – thank you!

HOPE Spot #26: Friday 16 July

Pumpkin Pie

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first ever pumpkin pie.

It’s part of my ongoing plan to find ways to disguise vegetables so I don’t know I’m eating them.

The Pumpkin Pie I made was a gift for a group of Pastors in country South Australia I was presenting to – except only one Pastor turned up! (He was happy because he got the whole pie.)

I was inspired to make Pumpkin Pie by this photo:

David is a member at St John’s Lutheran Church in Unley SA, and grew and sold pumpkins to raise more than $650 to help others through ALWS …

… including people like farmers in South Sudan who receive pumpkin seeds after attending Farmer Field Schools you support through ALWS.

At these Farmer Field Schools, farmers learn basic techniques even dodgy home-gardeners like me take for granted:

  • composting
  • using mulch
  • planting in rows
  • organic fertiliser (though I buy mine in ‘Dynamic’ bags rather than brewing it from what comes out of the back end of goats, as they do in South Sudan!)
  • improved seed varieties
  • drip irrigation (me holding a hose!)



One of the great things about pumpkins is they can provide emergency food within six weeks of planting.

You simply harvest the leaves, slice and stir-fry them, and they provide Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and protein! (They even reduce cholesterol.)

Once pumpkins are fully grown, they have a long ‘shelf life’ and can be stored for food during the ‘hungry season’ – the 4 months families must wait for the new season’s crop.

PLUS, each pumpkin has around 500 seeds. So, the crop that started with the seeds you supply through ALWS can keep on growing!

It’s not just pumpkins that grow with the seeds you plant.

You plant ‘seeds’ with the schooling you give children through Walk My Way

… that grow into doctors, nurses, teachers, business-people, community leaders.

You plant ‘seeds’ of training and micro-credit groups in Nepal and Cambodia …

… that grow into grocery stores, bike-repairs, shoe-makers, mini-restaurants and other thriving businesses.

You plant ‘seeds’ when you support people with disabilities …

… who grow into confident people, valued by their community, making the most of their skills, and achieving their potential.



You can see the ‘harvest’ of the seeds you plant in your 2020 ALWS Annual Report here.

The Report is set up like a magazine, so it is fun and inspiring to read – especially if you skip over the financial pages we are required to report!

(ALWS is having our 5-yearly Accreditation with the Australian Government this year, so next week we will also snail-mail a Summary Annual Report with the Annual Donation Statements for FY 20/21.)

Which brings me back to pumpkins.

Ideally, I’d bake you a pumpkin pie too, to thank you for all the wonderful things you’ll see in your Annual Report about what you do to help people through ALWS …

… or perhaps I could pass on to you what some ladies gave me in Mozambique the last time I was there, to ‘thank the people in Australia who help us’. Take a look:

Yes, pumpkins. 13 of them in fact. (A few too many for excess baggage, so a number of poor families in the next village were blessed as we paid forward this gift.)

Perhaps the best part about this gift of pumpkins was the way they were brought to us:

Thank you for all the ‘seeds’ you plant through ALWS to transform people’s lives. I hope each time you eat pumpkin (even as a vegetable, and not just a pie), you’ll feel joy knowing your kindness now is a blessing ALWayS!


HOPE Spot #25: Wednesday 7 July

Hope doesn’t take holidays

Now that Australia is on school holidays …

… it’s a good time to celebrate all the refugee children who can now step into school because caring Australians stepped out in ALWS Walk My Way.

As of this morning, the number of children supported is: 10,735!

 This is 7% more than the total we’d hoped to achieve by 31 December – and there are still more Walks to come, especially across Queensland …

… including Sterny’s Walk in Hervey Bay. This Walk is planned by the local Lutheran school and church to celebrate the service of our ALWS Queensland rep, and Hervey Bay local, Christian Stern, who passed away in February.

Yet it’s not just refugee children our ALWS family helps go to school.

Come with me to our neighbour Indonesia, and meet the children you help here …

… where our ALWS partner PK Hephata supports children with disabilities to go to school.

When you look at the photo above, you probably cannot tell which is the child with a disability being supported …

… instead, you see each child as precious, and full of potential.

That means, as you help provide essentials like hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, training for teachers to support children with extra needs …

… you also send a powerful message of inclusion to communities where sometimes the needs (and abilities) of children with disabilities can be forgotten.



You can see the impact this makes when you talk to a young woman like Reni Doloksaribu, who also received support from PK Hephata to overcome the challenges caused by her disability. Reni shared:

“I am very grateful for the provision of hearing devices.
These help me to hear and to communicate with other people.
In the past, I have lacked confidence to interact
with other people, because I could not hear them.

 I hope there can be more help in the future
to build and improve our capacities and skills,
in accordance with our existing abilities.”

You give this same kind of care and support to children and young people with disabilities in the refugee camps where you help through Walk My Way.

While here in Australia our schools may be on holiday, your kindness never is.

That’s why today I want to thank you for supporting so many children – especially those with special needs – to go to school. The hope you give makes you a blessing ALWayS!


Photo: PK Hephata

HOPE Spot #24: Monday 28 June

Spitting chips … or chipping in?

I think potato chips are dangerous.

You open a pack with the best of intentions to just have a couple …

… and the next moment the pack is empty, upside-down above your mouth, and you’re violently shaking out the last few crumbs stuck to the bottom.

If that’s ever happened to you, you might be interested to know about the Chip Business you support on Mentawai Island in Indonesia, through ALWS.

Not potato chips though. Sweet potato chips. Taro chips. Banana chips.

You give this ALWS help through our partner CRDM&CDS – part of the Nommensen Lutheran University – to families in the poorest communities.

I’ll let one of the business owners, Dewi Sartika Saleleubaja, explain how your support is helping families transform their lives …


“In the past, we sold our products without packaging. We just put the chips in the plastic without any label, so nobody knows who made the chips. The packaging was not attractive, and we sold just a little.

Now we are having new products.

 We put the chips with new packaging and labels so our products look more interesting and eye-catching.

 People soon know who made the chips, as well as who supported the production, because we also put the CDRM&CDS and donor’s logos in the label.

 Our sales have increased and it will be going up and up in the future.” 

You can see the ALWS logo on the chips packet, along with the Australian Government logo, who ‘chip in’ to match your ALWS work in Indonesia 5:1 😊


How your ‘chipping in’ help works

  1. The front-line team you support identifies the most marginalized families.
  2. These families join a micro-credit group.
  3. The group develops a business idea – like selling chips.
  4. You support them to improve the quality and marketing of their product.
  5. Profits pay back any loans from the micro-credit group.
  6. Extra profits improve the lives of families!

What’s exciting is seeing people’s confidence grow … and with it the businesses, and the benefits to families!

I saw this in Mozambique, with a man who turned a goat into a car!

Orlando told me he received training through our ALWS program in how to raise goats …

… and then used profits from selling off-spring to buy a bicycle

… which he used to transport fish to land-locked markets to get better prices

… those prices produced extra profit, which bought more goats, which bred even more

… that could be sold, and the profits used to buy a cow

… which produced enough profit that he bought a car

… as well as supporting his children to go to school!


Photos: ALWS

When I talked to him, Orlando had a message for you:

“I would not reach the success I have without you, because before I did not have knowledge.

You gave me this knowledge, and this is why I can have success.

 Now, I can tell the people my story, and that they should go slowly, step by step, and have faith that they too will get success one day.”

So, if your support can help a man like Orlando turn a goat into a car …

… who knows what those sweet potato, taro and banana chips could turn into???

What I do know is that instead of ‘spitting chips’ about the state of the world, or carrying a ‘chip on the shoulder’ and blaming others …

… we can instead ‘chip in’ to support people like Dewi Sartika to ‘chip away’ at the poverty that hurts their families, and help bring hope.

I think that’s enough of me being a ‘chip off the old block’ and doing Dad jokes – thank you!


PS: If you’d like to use a 5:1 grant this financial year to help more people like Dewi, you’re welcome. Simply donate here by 5.30pm Wednesday. Thank you!


HOPE Spot #23: Friday 18 June

What is 70 pages long, worth $10 million+ …
… and due on Monday 21 June?

Can I ask for your encouragement?

Each 5 years, ALWS must seek reaccreditation from the Australian Government.

It’s a long (18 months), complex (70 page Agency Profile / interviews / desk audit), challenging (site visit) process …

… but accreditation is critical because it makes ALWS eligible for matching grants from the Australian Government. (Like the 5:1 Grant for Nepal I told you about last month, or a 5:1 Grant for Myanmar available from 1 July.)


If (when!!!) ALWS is successful in reaccreditation …

we expect over the next 5 years there would be matching grants available to ALWS totalling more than $10 million!

This vastly expands what you and I can do through our personal giving plus enables us to keep showing the Government that people like you want Australia to do more to help people suffering in poverty. (Australia’s overseas aid budget is the lowest it has ever been.)

ALWS must submit our Agency Profile by next Monday – 21 June.

Your ALWS team is weary (see photo) …

… but confident we are presenting your aid agency in a way that clearly demonstrates your effectiveness, efficiency and impact in bringing hope to hundreds of thousands of people.

We expect there may be another six months to go in the Accreditation process.

So, if you’d like to send a note of encouragement, we’d appreciate it! Thank you!


HOPE Spot #22: Wednesday 9 June

A recipe for…

On Sunday night, my son TJ asked for some help in cooking up meals for his weekday lunches.

(Being 19 years old, and an apprentice carpenter, TJ needs a full-size esky to contain his lunch!)

The recipe was for an Asian chicken stir-fry, and called for ingredients including soy sauce, rice, oil for frying …

… which reminded me of the help you supplied to families hurt by COVID-19 in Cambodia.

Take a look at the photo I received last week …

Photo: LWD

Here you see a food distribution to 973 families, regarded as the poorest of the poor, (and too often forgotten at times of crisis).

While this mass-distribution is a lot tidier than our kitchen was after TJ finished cooking, I note the Food Kits you supplied included:

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice
  • Frying oils
  • Fish sauce
  • Salt
  • Canned fish
  • Sugar
  • Noodles …

… just about everything TJ needed for his stir-fry!

(Especially as chickens were part of the support given to 643 families to help start micro-businesses!)

Your COVID-19 action in Cambodia through ALWS, and our partner Life With Dignity, also included:

  • 285 boxes of surgical masks
  • 831 boxes of gloves
  • 328 bottles of hand-sanitiser
  • 1,018 litres of sterilising alcohol
  • 10,088 pieces of soap
  • 40,701 COVID-19 prevention posters
  • 643 families received support (including chickens and seeds) to start businesses

The front-line team you support also led 864 COVID-19 Awareness Sessions in 328 villages that reached 75,330 people in 5 Provinces across Cambodia.

If you put all those activities together, these ingredients are the recipe for…


That’s your gift through ALWS – thank you!


HOPE Spot #21: Wednesday 2 June

Mallee roots and New Amsterdam

It’s so tough that Victoria has had to go into COVID lockdown again.

Talking to family in Melbourne, there’s a real sense of despair. I’d love to have a quick simple way to fix things …

… but all I have is something I saw on a TV show we’ve got hooked on at home.

The show is called New Amsterdam. It’s about a hospital in New York, with all the normal life and death dramas, disease of the week, and romantic toing-and-froing of staff, making sure you smile and cry in equal measure each episode.

Yet, one thing stands out for me.

The lead character, the hospital Medical Director – that’s him in the photo, Dr Max Goodwin – has a four word saying that directs everything he does in the hospital:

“How can I help?”

Such a simple question …

… but when Max asks that of people, they struggle to believe he means it.

Apparently it’s so rare for someone to ask genuinely how they can help – rather than demand what can they get – that it seems too good to be true.

Yet “How can I help?” is what people like you ask all the time through ALWS.

You see people in need, like right now in Nepal where COVID is such a threat, and ask what you can do to make a difference.

That’s why you should see how you helped in Nepal last week (in real life!):

That’s your help. In one week. For 27,363 people. Thank you!

Below, you see the State Minister for Social Development, Ms Mina Kumari Saud, receiving the goods you supplied. She sends her thanks, and says the relief packages will help the provincial government fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and save lives.

Photo: LWF Nepal

What always surprises me (and it no longer should) is how help comes from the most unexpected places.

And is given so humbly.

Which is why I want to tell you about …



On Sunday, my wife Julie shared about ALWS at a little church in a dusty paddock at a place called Buccleuch, a long way from anywhere.

Buccleuch consists of the town sign, the church, and not much else.

Yet 37 people came from far and wide to ask:

 “How can I help?”

And help they did. Giving $685 (to be matched 5:1 to help fight COVID in Nepal).

The people of Buccleauch (and Karoondah and Peake) then went a step further. It might look like a tiny step to you, but it meant a lot to me …

… they sent Julie home with homemade sausage rolls and pasties for the boys and me!

Along with some mallee roots for our fireplace!

That kind of kindness – that goes one step further than expected – is what people like you do through ALWS. (And it’s what Jesus calls on those of us who are Christians to do.)

Your extra step may not be mallee roots and sausage rolls (though always welcome 😊)

… but it’s the extra gift when you have just given … the prayer you offer for the people you help … the note of encouragement to us when you send your donation.



Thank you for your generosity to people the world forgets.

Thank you for helping when COVID keeps on hurting so many people – whether that’s across the border in Victoria, or across the ocean in Nepal.

Thank you for being so kind and humble.

Helping is how we bring hope. That’s why, even though you are not a TV Star Medical Director 😊, I’m thankful you are someone who asks:

“How can I help?”


PS: The 5:1 Grant from the Australian Government is still open if you want to help protect people in Nepal from COVID-19. Simply donate here. Thank you!

(And if you’d like ALWS to visit your church / school / group, just as Julie visited the people of Buccleuch, simply call 1300 763 407 or email


HOPE Spot #20: Wednesday 26 May

Blue elephants and yellow crocodiles

I’m guessing you’d never expect playground rockers like these …

…  would be part of your ALWS care to families threatened by COVID-19 in Nepal?

Yet blue elephants and yellow crocodiles are an important part of making sure no one is forgotten.

Here in Birtamod Municipality in Jhapa, on the border with India, you support parents to set up a Centre for children with autism.

The parents you help were inspired to action after they attended a workshop teaching how to care with sensitivity for children with autism. LWF Nepal, who organised the workshop on your behalf, report it ‘became a hope’ to the parents.

The parents decided to ‘join hands together’ and each contributed 10,000 rupees – about $111 AUD – to help set up the Autism Child Care Centre, which you support too.

10,000 rupees is a large contribution for people living in poverty, and shows the impact of the workshop. Mrs Bina Das, a single mum, is one of the parents. She shared:

“It is so hard to manage the house and care for my child.

It means I cannot go to work for my livelihood,
which makes it hard for me to meet my household expenses.”

Another parent, Ms Puja Shrestha, is also a teacher at the new Centre.

As a mum, she wanted to tell you:

“People laugh at me when I share that my 12 year old took a meal on their own. They could not believe this.

But for me, this is the happiest moment to see such change in my child’s life.”

As a teacher, she says:

“These children have individual characters, and we need to treat them accordingly.

 This can be a challenging task for a teacher like me, because we had so few learning and playing materials.

 The materials you provided have a high value for us.”

 Another parent, dad Mr Tirtha Khatiwada, shared:

“I am proud of being a father with autism child.

The only things we need are training for teachers, and the caring centre, so my boy can play, learn and improve his performance.”

This is exactly what you provide through ALWS!

Your help may start with blue elephants and yellow crocodiles

… but your kindness ‘became a hope’ and has inspired a community to ‘join hands together’.

The good news is that thanks to an Australian Government Grant, your donation is also matched 5:1, so your impact is multiplied for these children!

Donate 5:1 here

This is your help being handed over – thank you!

17 children with autism now attend the Autism Child Care Centre here in Jhapa.

I know this is a tiny number in the face of the poverty and injustice faced by so many in Nepal, and the threat of COVID-19 infecting up to 8,000 people here each day …

… but I wanted you to see how your ALWS care goes to those most in need, those too often forgotten by others, and that your help is a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!


PS: ALWS has joined with 26 other community organisations in Australia to ask our Government to increase support for Nepal as it battles the COVID Crisis.

Through ALWS, you stand alongside caring people from the Adelaide Nepalese Cricket Association to the Sydney Nepali Church to the Australia Nepal Friendship Society! I guess you could say we too ‘join hands together’. You can read the letter to our Government here or donate 5:1 here. Thank you! 


Did you know … 

… Australia’s Ambassador to Nepal, Ms Felicity Volk, received her education at a Lutheran College?


HOPE Spot #19: Wednesday 19 May

Your COVID help delivered in Nepal

You don’t need too many words from me today.

Instead, here are photos of your ALWS COVID care being delivered in Jhapa in Nepal, on the border with India…

These are some of the 80 Antigen Kits and 1,000 surgical masks you supply through ALWS, and delivered on Friday 14 May by LWF Nepal.

(Antigen Kits are used for detecting COVID-19.)

They might look like bar snacks for you and I here in Australia …

… but for families in home isolation in Jhapa because a loved one is COVID-19 positive

… the 41 packets of high nutrition foods you supply are a true blessing.

Hospital beds – thanks to people like you, supported by the 5:1 Australian Government Grant.

(The Grant is still available if you wish to donate to provide emergency care to Nepal communities in danger from COVID on the Nepal border with IndiaDonate 5:1 here)

Note the IV pole. You can see the stands for another four on the right.

This is a lot different to the care we receive in our Australian hospitals, but here in Jhapa, your care is lifesaving.

This equipment is part of a 20 bed Isolation Centre being set up in Gaurigunj Rural Municipality in Jhapa.

(If you look on Google Maps, you will see your help is going to right on the border of India – and also within sight of Mt Everest!)

Your COVID-19 emergency action is provided to people most in need – regardless of race, religion or gender.

As always with ALWS, our focus is on those who may be forgotten – people with disabilities, the poorest of the poor, people regarded as outcaste, bonded labourers and single women.

Your donation now is matched with a 5: Australian Government Grant. Donate here

Thank you for being a blessing ALWayS!


PS: All photos are from LWF Nepal. The Australian Government describes their grant to ALWS this way:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people. ALWS has committed to contribute $1 for every $5  received from the Australian government. Your donation will allow us to extend programs.




HOPE Spot #18: Friday 14 May

Grumpy (or not)

I’m a bit grumpy.

And you may get grumpy at me for what I write next.

But, because of the people in poor communities you and I serve together through ALWS, I feel I need to comment on Tuesday night’s budget.

My comments are not about the Government.
They’re about us an Australian community.

(Governments generally try to do what they think we want.)

While it’s wonderful (and about time) we as a nation committed more to caring for people at risk in our community – the aged, people with mental health issues, people with disabilities, women under threat …

… there is a group of people who have been forgotten.

People living in the world’s poorest communities. Our neighbours. They’re being left behind.

You can see this when you look at Australia’s overseas aid budget.

YearWhat we give

What we give as %
of What we’ve got

20/21$4.479 billion0.21%
21/22$4.335 billion0.21%
22/23$4.188 billion0.2%
23/24$4.307 billion0.19%

What we give = Official Development Assistance (ODA) * What we’ve got = Gross National Income (GNI)

You might look at this and think “Wow, Australia gives a lot.”

Look at the last column though, you get a different picture. Imagine Australia’s wealth as:

The amount we give (ODA) out of what we’ve got (GNI) is actually just:

That is what we as an Australian people have let our Government think is OK.

Shame on us.

For me, as a Christian, I know Jesus calls on us to be generous, especially when we are so richly blessed. Not just to pass on a few crumbs of leftovers.

What’s challenging is Australians, on average,
think we give 17.5 times more than we actually do!

(Only 6% know the actual amount we give.)*

Perhaps this is why people mistakenly think we should cut back overseas aid?

What worries me is that with the gigantic deficits planned for coming years, there will always be an easy excuse for Australia to say:

“Sorry, we can’t do any more right now,
things are a bit tight here. You’ll have to wait.”

Australia’s overseas aid now is the lowest in our history, as a proportion of our wealth.

Budget figures show that by 2023/24 it will be CUT by a further 12%. (Even though we are the 10th richest country in the world.)

All of this means that people in need, who too often are forgotten now …

… will continue to suffer.


You can see what aid cuts meant in real life when you go into a place like Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Refugees normally receive a food ration that supplies 2,100 kiloCalories per day.

Beans. Lentils. Maize. High protein porridge.

This is enough to keep people safe and healthy … but no more than that.

When rich countries like Australia cut their overseas aid, that food ration had to be cut back to 1,300 kiloCalories.

People went hungry. Their health suffered.

 All of this is why I am so thankful for people like you.

Your kindness and generosity fight back against selfishness.

Your commitment to people in poor communities shows that love need have no boundaries.

Your willingness to help those the world forgets says that all are precious.

You give me hope to hold on to …

… so I can let go of being grumpy. 😊


PS: I shared with you earlier this week the COVID Crisis in Nepal. And how the people you help through ALWS – those with disabilities, landless, bonded labourers, Dalit people (the outcaste), women – are in greatest danger.

That’s why ALWS has joined with other Australian aid agencies to ask our Government to do more for the people of Nepal.   

At the same time, we welcome the fact that the Australian Government supports ALWS aid work in Nepal with a 5:1 Grant. You can donate 5:1 here. Thank you!

* 2018 Lowy Institute Poll

HOPE Spot #17: Tuesday 11 May

Nepal under threat from India COVID crisis
– see your frontline action

News reports are warning Nepal faces a COVID-19 human catastrophe:

“… as bad, if not worse, than in neighbouring India,
with which it shares a long and porous border.”
The Guardian

Last week, Nepal reported its highest ever daily infections – 9,070.

Frighteningly, the percentage of COVID tests that come back positive is currently 47%.

As you know, through ALWS you already work in Nepal, in the areas hardest hit by poverty, and with the people most in danger.

What you might not know is that you are already delivering COVID care where you are needed most:

The LWF team you support in Nepal delivered these supplies last Thursday (6 May) to Jhapa Rural Municipality. Jhapa borders India, and so is in the front-line COVID danger zone.

Your COVID-19 protection aid here includes:

  • 5 hospital beds
  • 5 IV stands
  • 5 bedsheets
  • 5 pillows with cover
  • 40 face shields
  • 3 x 30 litre dustbins
  • 1,000 surgical masks

You can see below the hospital bed is a lot different to what we are used to in Australia …

… but our challenge in Nepal is working in very remote regions, where transport and logistics are a real challenge.

However, community by community, you provide care that can be lifesaving.

The equipment you see above will be part of a 20 bed Isolation Centre the local government is setting up. It is essential because two people in this small area have already died from COVID-19, and another 29 are in home isolation.

As with all your ALWS work in Nepal, aid is offered to all.

You help people regardless of religion, gender and politics …

… and your care is focused on those who are most vulnerable because of age, disability or status in community – the precious people who too often are forgotten.

The good news is your ALWS work here is partnered by the Australian Government on a 5:1 basis.

The way the Australian Government explains this partnership is as follows:

Every donation you make to this project will be combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people. We have committed to contribute $1 for every $5 we receive from the Australian government. Your donation will allow us to extend our programs.

If you would like to use this 5:1 Australian Government Grant to help people in Nepal, including projects providing COVID-19 protection, simply donate here.

For now, I thank you for everything you already do through ALWS to help people in danger, wherever they may be …

… and welcome your prayers now for the safety of the frontline LWF staff taking your care where you are needed most, like here in Jhapa in Nepal.


Did you know?AustraliaNepal
Population25 million30 million
Intesive Care Beds2,3781,600

With portables: 5,000
(one per 5,000 people)

(one per 50,000 people)

Doctors per 1,000 people3.590.7


HOPE Spot #16: Friday 7 May


Last Saturday, 650 people joined ALWS Walk My Way in the Barossa Valley.

 (This is double what we had dared hope for, and included walkers aged 5 – 85, some in wheelchairs and prams, others led by their 4-legged best friend!)

One of those Walkers was young Meisha:

Meisha walked 13 kilometres. Part of it barefoot.

(Mum Hayley said Meisha walked faster when she was barefoot!)

When I saw this photo of Meisha, it reminded me of a young refugee girl I met on the border of Kenya and South Sudan.

It was at the Transit Centre the ALWS family supports at Nadapal.

This young girl is also barefoot.

She’d travelled three days with her Uncle and four cousins out of South Sudan after their village was attacked.

The sleeping mat and blankets she carries were provided by people like you through ALWS.

She’s safe now.

Did you know that 60% of the world’s refugees are children?

Many are traumatised by what they have seen, and what they have suffered.

Healing begins with blankets and sleeping mats and food and water (and thongs).

Hope grows with education.

The kind of education Meisha is helping provide through her Walk My Way.

The kind of education that 8,443 refugee children can now receive for one year thanks to the efforts of those 650 Walk My Way Walkers. (Most of whom, with longer legs than Meisha, completed the full 26 kilometres!)

 You can see the impact this education can have on a child’s life when you meet 14 year old Sebit in this two minute video. Sebit says:

“When I am in school, I forget I am a refugee.”

 (You’ll be amazed at what Sebit wants to do with the education you give.)

Through ALWS, you and I can support the gift of education for a refugee child for one year for just $26. Schoolbooks. Desk. Training for teachers.

If you’d like to give this gift, simply donate here.

or now, thank you for all you already do …

… and excuse me while I put on my Ugg Boots to get as far from barefoot as I can. It’s freezing!


HOPE Spot #15: Thursday 29 April

What’s cooking?

Meet Pierre.

Pierre is one of the world’s leading solar power scientists.

He lectures across Europe and China, and advises the Boards of leading next generation solar companies across the planet.

But guess what Pierre was doing over Anzac Day weekend …

Pierre baked – and donated – 400 Anzac biscuits!

The biscuits (which I have taste-tested, and declare perfect) are a gift for Walkers completing Walk My Way this Saturday 1 May in the Barossa Valley.

Pierre said it is his way to help refugee children get the education every child deserves!

Pierre’s effort reminded me of Regina, a mum from South Sudan who I met last time I was at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Regina fled the war with her three children, hiding in the back of a cattle truck.

Now, she’s one of 14 cooks at the Reception Centre you support through ALWS …

… each morning Regina is up at 6am, to cook three daily meals for up to 2,000 newly-arrived refugees. When I asked her why, this is what she told me:

“I know that education is the biggest gift I can give my children. That is why we are here, and why I work in this kitchen.

 My biggest priority is education for my children.

 I will do whatever I have to do, go wherever I have to go, so they can have a stable education.”

Whether you cook beans and lentils for 2,000 refugees …

… or bake Anzac Biscuits for weary walkers

… or donate $26 to support one refugee child in school for one year

… or be generous with Big Box Barossa Brekkie and other goodies like these local businesses:

  • Ability Chocolates
  • Apex Bakery
  • Barossa Country Biscuits
  • Barossa Fine Foods
  • Barossa Foodland Co-op
  • Barossa Fruit Shed
  • Barossa Gawler Coolroom Hire
  • Barossa Pickles
  • Barossa Valley Cheese
  • Browns Barossa Donuts
  • Faith Lutheran College
  • Fleurieu Milk
  • Jersey Fresh
  • Julie Slaghekke
  • Liebich Wines
  • Redeemer P&F
  • St Petri Men’s Shed
  • The Vine Inn
  • Trevallie Orchards
  • Waechter’s Farm Produce
  • Z Wines

… or supply sponsorship and all the Walker T-shirts, as the LLL has

… or do your own Walk My Way when and where and however you can

… you can be certain your kindness is a blessing ALWayS to each refugee child you help go to school. Thank you!


PS: As of this morning, we have 635 registered Walkers, who have already raised enough money to support 5,637 refugee children to go to school. Our target is 10,000 children this year, so you are still welcome to register / donate / volunteer for Walk My Way here! Thank you!

HOPE Spot #14: Tuesday 27 April

These boots…

Meet the Daves. Dave L and Dave P. Two of the new recruits for Saturday’s Barossa Valley Walk My Way

The Daves (Dave L on left, and Dave P on right) are part of a Walk My Way team from Lutheran Disability Services (LDS) in the Barossa Valley.

Two clients will be assisted in wheelchairs, while another two will power along under their own steam. Joining them will be their Support Workers, like Tamara (second from left in back row in photo below):

“This is a wonderful chance for our clients to give back to the community and demonstrate that everybody has the ability to make a difference for the good of others.

We’re all very excited about the challenge. Dave P insists our team’s theme song has to be ‘These boots are made for walking’.”

Supporter worker Julie (blond lady in centre of photo) will be assisting Dave P in his wheelchair for his Walk My Way:

“We are so inspired by what these children in the camps over there have to go through, that this is the least we can do. 

It is a privilege and honour to walk with our clients to support them and enable them to contribute to society in a positive way.

It helps make them feel important and valued too.”

While Dave P insists on boots for walking, the refugee children the LDS team help often arrive at the camps barefoot. Suffering trauma. Or having special needs.

You help make sure refugee children with special needs are not forgotten.

For example, in 2020 the ALWS family provided daily living supplies for 59 children with intellectual disabilities at Kakuma Refugee Camp + schoolbooks and writing materials for 164 learners with disabilities.

Meron, from Ethiopia, is one the refugee children with special needs who can now go to school because of people like you through ALWS and actions like Walk My Way. Meron shared:

“I became blind when I was very young because of disease.

I am 14 years old, and have been in this refugee camp for six years.

It is good to have this machine because now I can write like other learners.

It feels good to learn, and get more knowledge from school. My teacher helps me a lot.”

Meanwhile, Nahaun – a mum from Burundi, refugee for five years – shared:

“One of my girls cannot speak. I feel happy because I now see her learning.

She is getting skills and knowledge now.

Before I was sad because she could not join the other children. She could not learn, but now she can. Thank you.”

You don’t need Dave P’s boots to support refugee children to go to school – you just need a big heart!

Just $26 can support a refugee child in school for one year …

PLUS help make sure children with special needs are not forgotten. The education you give each child is something no one can ever take away – a blessing ALWayS! Thank you 😊


PS: You are welcome to register / volunteer / donate / DIY – simply go to Walk My Way. Thank you!

PPS: We still need 10 traffic marshalls! Volunteer here

HOPE Spot #13: Friday 23 April 2021

How scrunchies in the Barossa Valley
revive hope for a girl facing child labour in Somalia

Remember last week, and how I told you about Lana and Ruby?

They are two of the student leaders at St Jakobi Lutheran Campus in Lyndoch SA, and they’re sewing scrunchies and making hacky-sacks as part of our 2021 ALWS Barossa Valley Walk My Way.

I couldn’t help thinking about Lana and Ruby and girl students at our Lutheran-supported schools here in Australia …

… as I thought about the situation of young girls in countries like Somalia.

Like Fatima.

While Fatima is 16, before Australian help arrived through our ALWS partner LWF, she’d never been to school.

Drought had destroyed her family’s livestock and crops in Somalia …

… then attacks by armed militia forced her family to flee to a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).

While they were now safe, challenges remained. Fatima recalls:

“The situation was so hard. We did not have food and shelter.

Sometimes I help my mother to do domestic work like washing clothes for others.

Through that little work we get each day, we must try to make a living for the whole family.” 

The good news is that at the IDP Camp, Fatima joined 1,500 other children to go to school, in an Accelerated Learning Program to catch up on the education she’d missed.

This school program is supported by people like you through ALWS, matched with a grant from the Australian Government.

Fatima also received the school uniform you see her wearing, lunch at school each day, and fresh water supplies to the school to protect against COVID-19. She says:

“Now I am happy that I don’t do domestic work, and rather I can focus on my education.”

 You can understand why Fatima values her education so much.

Too often, girls in places like Somalia are forgotten or left behind.

They are at risk of sexual assault. Early marriage. Forced to give birth before their bodies are ready. Treated as child labour. Stolen to be child soldiers. According to UNICEF, 98% of girls in Somalia aged 5 – 11 suffer female genital mutilation.

That’s why your help through ALWS has a special focus on girls, to protect them from these threats.

Click here to see the action you can take right now.

Or, you can join Lana and Ruby and the students at St Jakobi in Walk My Way.

 Each $26 raised can support a refugee child in school for one year.

The Barossa Valley Walk is this Saturday, 1 May, but you can do your own Walk anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Register or donate here

When you help girls like Fatima go to school, you support them to transform their lives. You can see this in Fatima:

In the future I want to be a teacher. There is mass need of teachers in my country.

I also want to be a role model and pillar for displaced children in hard times.

I am very grateful to the ALWS, LWF, and the Australian government for reviving my hopes and giving me this education.”

“Reviving my hopes.”

Whether you sew scrunchies, walk your way, or simply give a donation … that is your gift. Thank you!


HOPE Spot #12: Friday 16 April 2021

198,612 – and counting…

I’m putting together the ALWS 2020 Annual Report for you …

… and adding up the number of people you were part of helping through ALWS last year.

Already I’m at 198,612 people … and I still have Djibouti and Bangladesh to add!

Amazing! Especially as you did all this in a year when COVID-19 caused so much chaos.

One of those people you helped was this gentleman in Nepal …

… he received a Hygiene Kit after floods devastated his community, at the same time as they were trying to protect themselves against COVID-19.

Too often, people with disabilities are forgotten at time of crisis – but your work through ALWS is not only providing emergency essentials, but helping communities understand both the needs and skills of people with disabilities. Thank you!

Your signature

If you look really closely
at the blue bag,
you’ll see in the middle
at the bottom
the ALWS logo.

I like to think of this
as your ‘signature’
on the gift of kindness
you give through ALWS.




Jump to it

You might also have noted the red kangaroo Australian Aid logo.

This is the Australian Government working alongside you, through ALWS.

We have committed to contribute $1 for every $5 ALWS receives from the Australian government.

What’s exciting about this partnership is that every donation you make to this project helping people in Nepal is combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people.

In fact, in Nepal last year together we helped 20,388 people. Thank you again!


And still counting…

As of 9am this morning, 425 people are registered to walk in our ALWS Walk My Way on Sunday 1 May in the Barossa Valley – the most ever! Another 100+ people are walking and wheeling in their own events across Australia. Leading the way are people like Lana and Ruby from St Jakobi Lutheran Campus in Lyndoch, where the 26 kilometre walk ends.

These two school leaders decided to kick-start Walk My Way by organising students to make and sell Scrunchies and Hacky-Sacks.

More than 300 items have been sold at weekly stalls, and St Jakobi is already supporting 95 refugee children to go to school ($26 per child per year). According to Ruby:

“We feel really grateful we will be helping children like us go to school.”

I’m sure you’ll join me in being grateful that young people like Lana and Ruby are joining you in caring for people through ALWS.

The bottom line is not so much the big numbers (198,612) …

… but the fact that when ONE person, you, reaches out and cares for ONE person, like the man in the wheelchair in Nepal, together the kindness adds up!

That’s why I thank God we can count on you 😊


Photos: LWF Nepal; The Leader newspaper, Barossa

HOPE Spot #11: Wednesday 24 March 2021

Fire inside Rohingya refugee camp

You may have seen news reports of the massive fire in the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh …

… and be worried about the people you help here through ALWS.

As you know, the Bangladesh Camps are now ‘home’ to nearly one million Rohingya people forced to flee their true home in Rakhine State in Myanmar.

Let me share with you what we know so far.


The UN reports:

  • 15 people killed, including children
  • 550 people injured
  • 400 people missing
  • 45,000 people homeless
  • 10,000 shelters destroyed

Before the fire was brought under control, our Regional Emergency Hub Coordinator, Bhoj Raj Khanal, reported:

A deadly fire took place in Cox’s Bazaar Rohingya refugee camp # 8W, 9, 10 and 8E today. The fire is still out of control and it is spreading towards camp # 11, 7 and 17. RDRS Emergency Programme (LREP) working camps (Camp # 18, 12 and 2 East) are still safe but if the fire can’t be controlled soon, it might affect Camp # 12 which is one of LREP working areas.


At this stage, it appears the work you support through ALWS can continue:

  • clean and repair latrines
  • clean and repair drainage
  • ensure Tube Wells are operative
  • WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) awareness-raising
  • Dignity Kits for women (detergent, soap, sanitary napkins)
  • Household essentials for people with disabilities
  • Restoring camp environment with tree-planting
  • Cash-for-work projects
  • Training in poultry-raising
  • Supplementary food for pregnant and lactating women

NB: Much of this work also supports protection against COVID-19


The risk of fire is an ongoing danger in crowded refugee camps. People cook over fires, and use oil lamps for light.

I remember meeting a family in a refugee camp the ALWS family supported in Djibouti. The mum, Kafia, told me what happened to them:

“Last year my house was burned. The wind blew over the lamp.

My child was badly burned, and my husband was burned too.

My husband was admitted to hospital, but now he cannot work because of the burns. My son is still affected.”

When Dad and son showed me their burns, it was horrifying …

… but even worse was the pain in their faces as they struggled to survive this extra challenge in their lives after they had to flee their home in Somalia as refugees.

Yet, in spite of all this, Kafia held onto hope you opened for her family through ALWS support for schools in the camp:

“I miss my future – but I am not going to miss my children’s future.

The most important thing for a better life is education.

This is the hope I have for my children.”


Meanwhile, people still in Myanmar continue to suffer after the military coup earlier this year.

Your ALWS work inside Myanmar is focused on Rohingya people forced to live in Displaced Persons Camps in Rakhine State. The team you support reported this week they have had to raise the Risk Level to Level 4, on a scale of 5. This means:

Your ALWS work inside Myanmar is focused on Rohingya people forced to live in Displaced Persons Camps in Rakhine State. The team you support reported this week they have had to raise the Risk Level to Level 4, on a scale of 5.

Extra precautions are being taken to plan for all contingencies. These extra security measures allow staff to continue to work safely alongside vulnerable communities, sometimes remotely.   

Despite the risks, the team in Myanmar are committed to helping people without discrimination. Leaders have shared that ‘we are committed to doing as much as we can, for as long as we can wherever we can.  We are here to serve the people of Myanmar.’

The team you support report that the Cease Fire in Rakhine has improved access to partner villages in rural areas, (though it remains riskier in urban areas). 

The team asked ALWS to tell you:

“We are continuing our work in solidarity
with our partner communities and camps
and thank you all for your continued flexible support.”


These are tough times for the people of Myanmar – whether inside the country after the military coup, or as refugees forced to Bangladesh.

As Australia battles floods along our east coast, it can be easy for our country not to see the needs of others further away.

I thank God that you do.

Through ALWS, your kindness and generosity tell the people of Myanmar they are not forgotten. They are not alone. They can hold onto the hope that people care. And that is a blessing ALWayS.

On behalf of all those you help, thank you.


PS: If you’d like to help the people of Myanmar by supporting ongoing ALWS work in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, and Displaced Persons Camps inside Myanmar, you can donate here. Thank you!

HOPE Spot #10: Friday 19 March 2021

Your COVID-19 action in PNG … and Sister Joan

In a moment I want to tell you about Sister Joan …

… and how brave women like her on the front-line of Lutheran Health Services to the PNG community can inspire you and me, as we respond to the emerging COVID-19 crisis.



So far, 1,400 active cases have been officially reported, but there are fears the real number is much higher. (Testing rates are very low.)

News reports suggest HALF of pregnant women coming to hospitals have COVID-19.

That’s why ALWS welcomes the Australian Government directing 8,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for front-line health-workers. We also support the Australian Government seeking a further one million more doses for across PNG.



Your ALWS work in PNG happens through a Church Partnership Program, commenced in 2004. The Partnership brings together:

  • Anglican
  • Baptist Union
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG
  • Roman Catholic Church
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • The Salvation Army
  • United Church

Churches provide 50% of Health Services in PNG, and the Australian Government knows the effectiveness of churches working together in PNG to reach the most remote regions, and the fact that church leaders are a respected and trusted source of information.

Therefore, our prayer is the Australian Government will support the efforts of churches in this COVID-19 response. In particular, supporting churches to:

  • Refer patients for COVID testing
  • Conduct rapid COVID tests
  • Treat COVID patients
  • Where necessary identify ‘overflow’ and isolation spaces
  • Administer vaccines
  • Deliver key health messages via radio, TV and social media
  • Provide rural and remote communities with items like soap so they can practice COVID-safe behaviour
  • Provide health staff with PPE and training in infection control
  • Coordinate churches’ response

This church partnership work against COVID-19 in PNG is supported by churches of different denominations in Australia, including coming together through CAN-DO (Church Agencies Network – Disaster Operations), of which ALWS is a founding member.



One in every six people in PNG identifies as a Lutheran – around 1.5 million people …

… and Sister Joan is one of them. She studied at the Lutheran School of Nursing in Madang.

When I met Sister Joan, she worked at the Tent City Clinic in Lae, and I remain inspired by her example of living her values in everyday life. I thought you might be too:

“When I was small, I was a sick child. My parents must often take me to clinics, so my parents told me I should become a nurse so I could look after myself.

In this clinic we see outpatients with respiratory infections, skin disease, fever and malaria.

We also care for pregnant mothers, and babies come for immunisation. We also do family planning.

There around 18,000 people in our catchment area. In one day we may see more than 100 out-patients, and more than 50 babies.

People pay 2 Kina ($1 AUD) to come here, children 1 Kina. There are still some who cannot come because they cannot afford this. When they do later find the money to come, they will be much sicker.

If I was in charge, I would tell people
if you don’t have money, still come.

We will help you.

We do not have time for morning devotions because people are already here waiting. If they have money, or no money, we just help them. We give our hearts.

I am sometimes challenged by the work when we are overloaded, but I chose to serve. That is my calling.”



What I see in Sister Joan, I see in people like you too.

You don’t make a fuss, you just get on with helping people. Even when you feel challenged, or overloaded.

That’s why, as I report to you today about your ALWS PNG COVID-19 action, I also just wanted to say thank you for being a Sister Joan in your own way.



The Church Partnership Program is supported by the Australian Government through the Papua New Guinea–Australia Partnership.

HOPE Spot #9: Friday 5 March 2021

Coffee takes the cake

You might wonder how coffee and cake can help in training for the 26 kilometres walk of Walk My Way?

(Especially after I told you earlier this week about Rachael and her Walk My Way Ability chocolate!)


Come with me, up to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, where a café is brewing up support for Walk My Way.

Hahndorf is where our first Walk My Way started. Part of the St Michael’s Lutheran ministry here is the John 3:16 Café.

Managing the 150 coffees the café serves to the community each week is Sarah.

She’s as passionate about helping refugee children go to school as she is about serving up great coffee.

Perhaps that’s because John 3:16 is across the road from St Michael’s Lutheran School.

“Each day I see the mums and dads dropping off their kids at school.

I know many make sacrifices so they can give the children the best education they can. That’s why it breaks my heart to know that children in refugee camps in East Africa are missing out, no matter what their mums and dads do.

That’s why I’m so excited about Walk My Way. To know that just $26 can support a refugee child in school for a year – that’s amazing. That’s not much more than a coffee a day here in the café!

We may be just a little local church café, but there’s no reason that we can’t have a global impact.”

Sarah has put up a big poster promoting Walk My Way, and is encouraging all her customers to add $2 to their bill to help refugee children go to school.


Meanwhile, in the Barossa Valley, St Jakobi Lutheran Campus in Lyndoch is the finish line for our first post-COVID Walk My Way.

Right across the road, Ken Semmler is growing grapes for brilliant Barossa reds …

… and baking apples into pastry to sustain Walk My Way organisers.

Ken’s support of Walk My Way goes way back, as he supported his wife Helen in leading the Lutheran Community Sewing Group, where former refugees sewed Thank You gifts for previous Walkers.

Whether it’s coffee or cake …

… walking 26 kilometres or less

… joining the Barossa Valley Walk My Way on Saturday 1 May or doing it at another time or place that suits you better

… everyone can find a way to help refugee children go to school through Walk My Way.

So what will you do? You can:

  • Register to do Walk My Way – in whatever way suits you best
  • Sponsor me in my personal Walk
  • Give a donation – $26 supports one refugee child at school for a year
  • Volunteer – we need Traffic Marshalls, Breakfast Packers, Musicians, Cleaner-Upperers – we can find something that suits YOU * 1300 763 407

After all the challenges of COVID-19, it’s vital we get refugee children back to school, so they can again have the hope of the better future education brings.

That’s why the children need you to be part of Walk My Way.

Whatever you do, I am happy to volunteer to keep on tasting cakes and coffee and chocolate 😊



HOPE Spot #8: Wednesday 3 March 2021

What is your Ability?

I never thought my training for this year’s Walk My Way would include eating chocolate – but I’m happy to take one (or a hundred) for the team!

Rachael, a wonderful young lady in the Barossa Valley, is making and donating chocolate with her mum Chris to encourage Walk My Way Walkers on Saturday 1 May…

and so help more refugee children go to school!

Rachael lives with a disability caused by Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder (one in 50,000 births) that can delay development and growth, and cause seizures.

At birth, Rachael weighed only 1.3kg.

When she was diagnosed at age 3, the doctors told Chris and husband Noel that Rachael’s ‘past was her future’, as children with this disorder generally have a very short lifespan.

Rachael is proving them wrong!

Now aged 26, Rachael completed school at various Lutheran schools in the Barossa Valley.

After that, she badly wanted to get a job like everyone else, but it was a struggle to find a job that matched her skills

That’s when an elderly gentleman
(90 year old chocolatier Bryon)
gave Rachael and Chris an idea …

and recipes for the chocolate he sold
at Barossa Farmers Market, alongside their stall!

Bryon was looking to retire from his business, and suggested chocolates could become Rachael’s business. That’s where Ability Chocolates was born!

Now, Chris does the making, and Rachael does the packing, labelling and delivering. Chris explains the importance of Ability Chocolates this way:

“Everybody has ability, and sometimes we just need to find the right way to empower people to unlock that ability.

That’s why we set up Ability Chocolates, and that’s why we love the way ALWS empowers people in poor communities to start their own business – including people with disabilities.

It’s important in any business too that you give something back to the community.

That’s why we want to support Walk My Way. Rachael had the blessing of a Lutheran education, so it’s wonderful that through Walk My Way we can help refugee children have a Lutheran-supported education too.”

Chris uses their family’s nightly devotions to explain to Rachael about Walk My Way and the importance of helping refugee children going to school.

As for Rachael, she’s not only busy packing hundreds of chocolates, she’s very excited to attend the Walk My Way Breakfast & Blessing to encourage Walkers, and remind them there’s a delicious surprise waiting for them along the way!

So, what can you do to support refugee children go to school through Walk My Way?

  • Register to do Walk My Way – in whatever way suits you best
  • Sponsor me in my personal Walk
  • Give a donation – $26 supports one refugee child at school for a year
  • Volunteer – we need Traffic Marshalls, Breakfast Packers, Musicians, Cleaner-Upperers – we can find something that suits YOU * 1300 763 407

We are stepping out in faith on Saturday 1 May, after COVID-19 cancelled last year’s public Walks. Our hope is the Barossa Valley Walk My Way , and other Walk your Ways people do across the country, can support 10,000 children to step into school.

If you too, like Rachael, have the Ability to help – thank you!


HOPE Spot #7: Friday 26 February 2021

Our brother, Christian…

This is Christian – our ALWS rep for Queensland.

I’ve shared with you before about Christian’s journey after a cancer diagnosis 18 months ago.

All of us at ALWS consider you family …

… so want to let you know that on Monday 22 February our Lord took Christian home to be with Him.

It was a peaceful passing, with Christian’s wife of 15 years Tanya, and his mum and dad, at his bedside.

Christian was born on 28.6.1980, so his passing was too soon for all of us who knew and loved him …

… yet not too soon for Christian to make an impact on hundreds of lives through his service as a teacher in Lutheran schools in Nhill, Brisbane and Hervey Bay, and in serving the poor through ALWS.

Christian was always looking for new ideas to inspire people to help the poor.

He’d trek out to the most remote parts of Queensland to share at a church service or Ladies Fellowship …

… then front up the next day to deliver classroom presentations to students in Lutheran schools.

Christian created the Refu.Me Challenge where students could get a taste of what it was like to be a refugee.

When ALWS held Walk My Way, Christian was determined to do the full 26 kilometres, despite knowing the strain it would put on his body…

… and then still found the energy to sizzle snags for Walkers, and entertain them as he served – as you can see here!

You might ask where the ‘hope’ is in this HOPE Spot.

Quite simply, Christian’s faith sustained him through all the challenges his cancer brought.

Christian was confident a place was prepared for him in heaven. This hope meant that on earth Christian could keep loving and serving others, despite what he faced. He kept looking for ways to bring love to life, and help those we serve together at ALWS – especially those who faced being forgotten as the world focused on the COVID-19 challenge …

… like children in refugee camps.

As a teacher, Christian was passionate about the importance of making sure refugee children could go to school. So much so, that even in his final months, Christian found a way to help – using his passion for wood-working to make 80 x foot-shaped key-rings to promote Walk My Way!

Christian was a larger-than-life man, and so leaves a larger-than-life gap in our hearts.

Our thoughts now are with Tanya, and their 9 year old son Jasper. They can be very proud of what God has done in so many lives through their husband and dad…

… and all of us can take hope knowing that Christian’s passion for helping the poor lives on in what people like you do through ALWS. Thank you for sharing this special time with us.


PS: Christian is being farewelled on Monday 1 March at 9.30 (Qld time) at St James Lutheran Church in Hervey Bay. Tanya has invited people attending to wear an ALWS t-shirt (to make Christian smile) and to give donations to ALWS in lieu of flowers (to make Christian’s heart sing).

For now there are faith, hope, and love.
But of these three, the greatest is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (CEV)

HOPE Spot #6: Wednesday 24 February 2021

13 cucumbers and one million loaves of bread

Yesterday I picked 13 cucumbers from the two plants in my veggie garden.

This follows the 13 I picked last week.


Someone else who grows cucumbers is Shankar Prasad in Nepal, one of 10 farm families you support in his village through ALWS.

Before your help, these families had no land.

They were poorest of the poor, forgotten by nearly everybody…

… except you.

Through ALWS, you support these 10 families by:

  • leasing land for them for two years
  • supplying boreholes and pumps for irrigation
  • training them in improved farming techniques.

During the two-year lease, the aim is to help farmers develop their businesses enough so they can continue paying the lease on the land, and in order to be secure. This is sustainable, long term development.

For Shankar, it means growing grows tomatoes, chillies and beans (just as I also do), along with the cucumbers and many varieties of local vegetables.

In the 4 minutes video you can watch here …

… you will see how the vegetables you help grow are transforming the lives of these 10 families – even leading to an Award for Excellence from the local government! 

COVID-19 caused crop damage in the cucumbers and beans, because they couldn’t be picked when ready, and prices dropped …

… but Shankar is still hugely happy with the progress he has made, and wishes to thank you directly – Watch here


Just after I watched this video, I had a call from a farmer north of Adelaide.

The farmer told me he only had a small farm, but had this year harvested enough wheat to make one million loaves of bread!

They’d had Harvest Thanksgiving at church, and now wanted to turn that celebration into action to help people through ALWS – people like Shankar.


Shankar’s vegetables …

… and the farmer’s bread

… made me think of the time Jesus fed the crowd following him, blessing five loaves of bread and two fish a young boy had brought along for lunch.

The story reminded me of you:

Just like Jesus, you see a need and want to help.

Just like that young boy, you may think your offering
too ‘small’ to make an impact on all the need you see.

Just like the crowd, you then marvel at how kindness
can grow and transform people’s lives ALWayS.

We call what Jesus did for the crowd a miracle.

When you see what your kindness does for Shankar, and the other farmers, and their families, I think you might call that a ‘miracle’ too! Watch here


PS: If you have any ideas on how I can use 13 cucumbers, please let me know!

(Someone suggested ‘Dill’ – but I think they may have been referring to me!)







HOPE Spot #5: Wednesday 17 February 2021

Who knew?

For five days she carried her little daughter on her back.

Walked 225 kilometres.

Leaving everything behind.


The conflict between Tigray and Ethiopia that began on Wednesday 4 November last year.

You may not have heard of this conflict.

It displaced nearly one million people, but barely made the news in Australia.

And now, after a summer of cricket and COVID and tennis, no one is talking about it.

These people are forgotten.

But not by you.

Through ALWS, with our partner LWF Ethiopia, you will be there to welcome and care for displaced people like this family, as they flee to Mekelle the capital of Tigray.

Security reasons mean I can’t tell you this mother and child’s names …

… but I can pass on what Mum told your LWF team as they planned your work on the front line.

Mum said they had no food or water on the road, and survived only because soldiers took pity and shared rations with them. At night, people would climb trees to hide from armed forces, and protect themselves from wild animals.

Despite all the hardships, Mum says:

“We were lucky we fled in the early days of the conflict,
and thank God that we did not see bodies
littering the highway, or witness heavy fighting.”

The family were separated from their relatives. Mum shared:

“I don’t even know where they are,
if they are dead or alive.
I don’t know if our house is still standing.
We have absolutely no news.”

This family now live with 1,606 other displaced people in a school turned into a refuge. There are 8 rooms, and only 4 wash basins for all those people.

COVID-19 is a severe threat.


Sophie Gebrayes from LWF Ethiopia visited the displaced people (that’s Sophie nursing another mother’s baby) and told me:

“I was astonished in Tigray that no one wears masks.
People told us masks had been in force before the conflict,
but now no one cares. Total complacency has set in.
I am so worried. This is a time-bomb
that could explode any time. On top of everything else.”

(‘Everything else ’ is drought, flood, conflict and locust plagues.)

With COVID-19, it’s not just the lack of masks that put people in danger.

Families have poor nutrition, lack water, live in overcrowded conditions, and health systems are stretched or broken. (Definitely not the Hotel Quarantine we argue about in Australia.)

This crisis is why ALWS has joined the actions of churches from around the world through ACT Alliance to welcome and care for 246,624 displaced people.

Your ALWS help is delivered by LWF Ethiopia, and is planned to include:


2,665 children under 15

Famix – therapeutic food.
Cups & cooking pots.

WASH (Water & Sanitation)

2,600 families

Restore, extend and add water-points.
20 litre jerry-cans.
10 litre buckets.
250gms soap.
Community toilets.


Across all arrivals

Face masks.
Hand sanitiser.


2,600 families

Plastic sheets, mattresses, bed-sheets, blankets, pillows.


2,470 families


Seeds and farm tools.
Small animals eg goats


Vulnerable people

Counselling. Resilience.

The world may look at the conflict in Tigray, and ask: “Who knew?”

Through ALWS, you are there to help make sure these people are not forgotten.

(Just as you are for Rohingya people displaced by the crisis in Myanmar.)

ALWS has committed an immediate $25,000 to help families cope with being displaced, and to protect them from COVID-19. We pray that soon peace will return so they can go home.

Thank you for your ongoing care to people through ALWS.

Your kindness and commitment are the reason ALWS can take your help straightaway to places like Tigray and Myanmar, where you are needed most.

That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS.


PS: Thank you for understanding the need to keep families safe in this situation by not identifying them by name. All people did give Informed Consent to share their story and photo with you. If you would like to give extra help, you are welcome. Simply donate here.

ACT Alliance logo

Photos: Sophie Gebreyes/LWF/2021

HOPE Spot #4: Wednesday 10 February 2021

Miracle in Myanmar

I don’t know how Showkat manages the smile you see here.

(That’s her on the left, with the sister who takes care of her.)

Photo: S.Thandar

Before I tell you more about Showkat’s smile, let me update you on your ALWS work inside Myanmar. As you’d understand, we need to be very sensitive at this time about what we share in the on-line space.

The partner you support in Myanmar through ALWS updated us yesterday. These are their words:

  •  At present, all staff are safe, healthy, and accounted for
  • Programmatically, most activities are able to continue
  • Non-food Items have been distributed for Internally Displaced People.


Now, back to Showcat. Some would call her smile a miracle.

You see, Showkat lives in a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP)

In Myanmar.

Myanmar, where a military coup last week has left people on edge.

For Showkat and her family, this comes after 8 long years of fear and uncertainty in the IDP Camp. They came here when conflict drove Rohingya people like them from their homes in Rakhine State in Myanmar.

The camp where they are forced to live now is severely over-crowded.

Sanitation is basic. COVID-19 is a real risk.

Before help from agencies like ALWS, there was little chance for any of the 30,000 children here to go to school.

Showkat has never had the chance to go to school.

The 15 year old has a disability that means she cannot speak, can barely walk, and has difficulty using her hands. Showkat’s mum Arefa explains:

“We tried Showkat once in kindergarten,
but the teachers couldn’t care for her,
as they have to watch so many children.”

No one yet knows what last week’s events will mean for the everyday people of Myanmar, let alone the 144,000 Rohingya people confined to IDP Camps.

Including 30,000 children.

Dozens with disabilities like Showkat.

Yet, Showkat has this miracle smile.

She has seen other children go off to the Temporary Learning Centres supported by ALWS, and finds a way to communicate with her family that she wants to go to school too.

Principal Yunus, who you see here with Showkat, says he would love to welcome Showkat into school – along with the 14 other children in this part of the camp who also have disabilities.

“The teacher would like to open a class for them, but does not know where to start.

We will need qualified teachers.

It would also be great if we had a proper classroom, together with physical assistance and mental support for them.”

This is where you step in.

Through ALWS, you make sure children like Showkat are not forgotten.

Partnered by the Australian Government, you support a 3 Step Program to help children with disabilities in the IDP Camps to go to school. You:

  1. Identify children with special needs
  1. Map the things that stop these children going to school
  1. Plan ways to overcome the challenges

What you do for children

Phyu Zin Thet Naing, an Education Officer you support to work in the camp, describes the kinds of help you give children like Showkat:

 “These could include physical improvements to Temporary Learning Centres. The provision of assistive devices. Training for teachers on how to identify and support children with disabilities who are already in their classrooms.”

Your ALWS action also includes an Accelerated Learning Program for over-age students who have missed out on school, so they can catch up and integrate into mainstream schools.

When COVID-19 forced the closure of schools last year, your team found new ways to make sure children didn’t miss out on school.

They developed home-based learning materials, which were made disability-inclusive, to help children with disabilities get ready for mainstream school.

Looking ahead

It is too soon to know what impact the current crisis will have on the Temporary Learning Centres you support inside the IDP Camps.

For now, Showkat (who you see here with her mum) must wait a little longer for school.

What I do know is that the education you support
is a precious gift to any child inside these IDP Camps.

When I visited a couple of years ago, the children told me how excited they were to go to school. They wanted to learn new things and make new friends and have something positive to do to fill their days.

Best of all, the education they receive is something
no one can take away – it is a blessing ALWayS.

Perhaps that’s why Showkat can keep on smiling despite all the challenges she faces.

Thank you for everything you do through ALWS for children like Showkat. And for all the other children you help go to school inside the IDP Camps in Myanmar. And the refugee children in East Africa you support through Walk My Way and 10,000 Back to School.

As we confront whatever happens next in Myanmar …

… your kindness and commitment will be more precious than ever … giving the miracle gift of school … so special children like Showkat keep on having a reason to smile. Thank you!


PS: If you’d like to support school for children in IDP Camps in Myanmar during this challenging time, you can donate herethank you!


HOPE Spot #3: Friday 5 February 2021

When nothing is something

On Australia Day weekend, my wife Julie and I drove from Brisbane to Hervey Bay to visit our ALWS colleague, Christian.

While we didn’t go via V-Dub …

(the one you see here is Christian’s pride & joy, which he let me drive to remind me of my first car 40 years ago – a ’66 Beetle named Radish)

… the bumper-to-bumper traffic did make the journey seem a long way (four hours).

It’s even further from Hervey Bay to Portland in Victoria (23 hours and 30 minutes by car – if borders are open).

However, it is a much longer way still from both of those places to Trapeang Angkrong Village in Cambodia.

Yet, people (just like you) from Hervey Bay and Portland in Australia are coming close to people like Mrs Chann Moa who lives in Trapeang Angkrong.

Through ALWS, you are helping provide protection from COVID-19 …

Photo: LWD Cambodia

… and transforming life in a way that creates this kind of smile!

Mrs Chann Moa is a widow, and one of the poorest people in her community. Too often, people like her are forgotten, and their daily survival needs overlooked.

Before the help through Hervey Bay and Portland, (supported by the Australian Government), Mrs Chann had never had water near her house:

“Almost my whole life I have never had water near my house.
I must bring it from the stream or the pond far away from my house,
and must spend a lot of time to bring it.” 

As she got older, Mrs Chann had to spend nearly a dollar a day to buy water.

This may not seem a lot to you and me, but someone in poverty in Cambodia may have to live on as little as $2 a day. That’s why Mrs Chann says:

“Thank you so much for your kind assistance. Now I no longer have to buy water like I did before.”

The clean water Mrs Chann now has comes because the people of Hervey Bay and Portland supported Mrs Chann’s community to build this water tower near a local dam.

Photo: LWD Cambodia

The tank holds 10,000 litres of water. Once the water is pumped in, it can then be gravity-fed via pipes to households like Mrs Chann’s.

If you look closely in the photo, you can see both the ALWS logo and the Australian Government logo, who support your ALWS work through Life With Dignity (LWD) in Cambodia.

When I look at the water tower, and Mrs Chann’s smile, it reminds me that kindness can bring us close, no matter what the challenges … and that means a better life for a widow like Mrs Chann:

“I really appreciate the ALWS donors and LWD
who have provided this water irrigation system,
even though this project is in a remote area
that most people in Cambodia don’t know.

I do not have anything to give back to you.

I have only my hand to wave, and wish all the people
who have helped develop and support this project
to be healthy, and have happiness in their family,
and be safe from COVID-19.”

The people you help through ALWS are the poorest and most disadvantaged in their community. Your kindness brings you close, and tells them they are not forgotten.

I hope you can see here how the practical help you provide can be a blessing ALWayS.

While Mrs Chann may worry she has nothing

to give back to you to thank you …

… you and I know her smile is thanks enough.

Her ‘nothing’ is really something! 😊


HOPE Spot #2: Friday 22 January 2021

How old do you have to be to change someone’s world?

I had a lovely experience after church on Sunday.

Was tossing around a ball with a 12 year old, talking about his favourite rap singers, and he asked me from his wheelchair how old I was.

I said ‘Guess’.

He said ‘40’.

I said ‘YESSS!’

(I haven’t been 40 for 21 years 😊 )

That little experience made me think about how old you need to be to change the world.

And that led me to the Foundation students at Eudunda Lutheran Primary School in SA…

Julie ran an Awareness Day for them a while back, before COVID stopped all that. The children’s teacher, Sue Denholm, shared:

“After your session with Junior Primary,
the Foundation students collected
spare change to buy Gifts of Grace.  
They collected $10 over a couple of weeks
and chose to buy chickens and learning posters,
and are very excited they have helped families
who do not have all the things that they have.”

Around the same time, Nita Jansen celebrated her 100th birthday …

Instead of gifts for herself, Nita asked people to give gifts to help children at Kakuma Refugee Camp to go to school. The $1095 donated supports 42 children for a year.

Nita shared:

“I have always loved children.
They bring goodness into our lives.
That’s why I wanted to help
the children in the refugee camp.
I’ve been a big supporter of ALWS,
especially at Christmas time,
with Gifts of Grace.  It is dear to my heart
to help people in need.”

So, how old do you need to be to change the world?

Exactly the age you are now. 😊


PS: You can find Gifts of Grace here or help refugee children go to school here or join Walk My Way here. Thank you for all you do for others through ALWS!

Photo 1: Eudunda LPS, Photo 2: supplied, Photo 3: ALWS/Helene Wikstrom

HOPE Spot #1: Friday 15 January 2021

What floods can’t wash away

Silly me.

Here I was thinking you wouldn’t need any HOPE Spots this year as COVID-19 would be all sorted out, and life would be back to normal …

… instead, we still have Hot Spots, and don’t have vaccinations, and never quite know if borders are open or closed!

Yet compared to COVID disasters like the US and UK, we can count ourselves truly blessed.

Perhaps that’s why Australians are spending $19.5 BILLION in the post-Christmas sales (Australian Retailers Association)!!!

Your first HOPE Spot for 2021
starts in the floodwaters
of Panyagor in South Sudan.

Panyagor is the base for your ALWS work across Jonglei State, and you can see by the local church at Christmas how desperate things are.

LWF Program Coordinator in South Sudan, Collins Onyango, emailed us sharing:

As you may all be aware, this year we have had unprecedented array of challenges that have negatively impacted our project delivery. First it was the onset of the pandemic. As we were strategizing on how to adopt our actions to the new reality, Jonglei suffered major flooding due to the river Nile bursting its banks and going beyond all the dykes that had been erected. As I write, our team in Jonglei has now been relocated after the floods took over the entire Panyagor centre and indeed our entire office is now fully flooded to knee level.

You might wonder how there can be a HOPE Spot in all this?

The answer is INSIDE that church building surrounded by floodwaters …

Despite facing flood … COVID-19 … the threat of tribal conflict … uncertain peace after decades of civil war … ongoing poverty …

… the community still came together to celebrate the true hope of Christmas.

(This community in Panyagor in South Sudan is so remote that they have been safe from COVID-19, meaning they can still gather together in worship and praise God loudly and long – I know many of us in Australia will wish we could do the same!)

… and your LWF team in South Sudan, rather than give up, simply asked for an extra 3 months to implement all the work you support here through ALWS:

  • 16 teachers for 4 x Early Learning Centres
  • 10,390 children in Primary Schools
  • 150 young people in Secondary School
  • 325 people in 13 Farmer Field Schools
  • 30 people in Fishing Groups
  • 80 people in 4 x Seed Grower Groups
  • Restocking (goats, sheep) for 600 families

You can buy a lot of ‘stuff’ in Australia with $19.5 billion of post-Christmas sales …

… but you can’t buy courage and resilience, and the faith to hold on even when it seems you have been forgotten by the world.

As we step into the unknowns of 2021, my prayer is you are encouraged by people like the Panyagor community in South Sudan … just as they are encouraged by the kindness and commitment of people like you.

Together, through ALWS, we can build confidence no floodwaters can wash away, and grow hope that is a blessing ALWayS.


PS: You can support a flood-affected family in South Sudan by supplying a Farm Recovery Pack :

  • Hoe
  • Mattock
  • 3kg sorghum
  • 3kg maize
  • One seed sachet each of:
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Pumpkin
  • Eggplants
  • Cabbage
  • Cowpeas
  • Carrots
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon

The investment for each Farm Recovery Pack is $97. Donate here

Photos: LWF South Sudan

HOPE Spot #41: Thursday 24 December 2020

My Christmas gift to you
(from somewhere you won’t expect)

In a normal year, where would you rather spend Christmas – New York City or Kakuma Refugee Camp?

Times Square, snow, turkey, Macys …

… dust-bowl, heat, food rations, shacks?

The answer is easy, isn’t it?

Or is it?

Take 3 minutes and 14 seconds now to watch this video 

In this clip from the movie ‘God grew Tired of Us’, you’ll see former refugees from South Sudan compare Christmas at Kakuma to Christmas in the western world.

I think you might be surprised at the Christmas you choose.

This past COVID year many of us have thought again about what is most precious in our lives.

Family. Faith. Friends.

So, while this month Australians will spend $17 billion on Christmas …

… and next month have 10 million unwanted Christmas presents to get rid of (no more socks, please!!!)

… my Christmas gift to you is simple but, I hope, precious.

Let me introduce you to Mrs Pring Rorn.

She’s a widow. Landless. Has a son with a disability. The Cambodian Government has labelled her as ID 1, the poorest of the poor.

As COVID-19 hit Cambodia, the great danger was people like Mrs Pring Rorn could be forgotten.


“Before COVID-19 outbreak, my living depended
on collecting crabs, wild vegetables and morning glory
from rice field and small jungles to earn income.

Although I have some support,
I usually face food shortage
and found a difficult time living with starvation
due to the lack of food.”

That’s where people like you stepped in.

Through ALWS, supported by the Australian Government, Pring received help from our Cambodian partner Life with Dignity (LWD):

  • 50kg rice
  • 2 litres cooking oil
  • 10 cans fish
  • 4 bottles fish sauce
  • 2kg salt
  • 1kg sugar


“Through the support, I can have stable food
for at least two months during the hard time of COVID-19.

Nowadays, I have stored rice
and am not worried about a lack of food.

I am grateful for the support to improve
my food situation during COVID-19 pandemic.”

Safe from starvation, Pring still faced great danger from COVID-19.

At age 66, (in a country where life expectancy for women is only 72), Pring was in the highest risk category.

“When the weather became colder,
and the second wave COVID-19 came,
I was still afraid and scared …
I did not know what will happen to me.”

Your ALWS support through LWD showed Pring how to protect herself from COVID-19 …

“I keep applying personal hygiene and wearing mask,
cleaning my hands and staying away from groups.”

Your kindness to people like Pring goes even further than keeping them safe from hunger and disease …


… Pring has now become a Health Leader in her community!

“For the future, I have learned that awareness
and information on COVID-19
is important to me and my villagers.
I have shared this to my relatives and others.”

My Christmas gift to you is simply Pring’s smile.

That’s the smile of a life transformed.

Instead of Pring being forgotten, your kindness and generosity through ALWS has shown her she is important … her life worth protecting … her energy and courage gifts to be unleashed.

You show people they are precious – something no one can take away, a blessing ALWayS.

Pring’s village, and Kakuma Refugee Camp, are a long way from the life you and I live – but through ALWS we can be there, where we are needed, when our help matters most.

On behalf of Pring, and each person you have helped through this COVID year – thank you.

I pray you and those you love may be filled with the true hope of Christmas, not just tomorrow, but every day.


PS: What are you doing on Saturday 1 May? Like to go for a walk? Join our Walk My Way in the Barossa Valley – beautiful scenery, famous Barossa hospitality, Lutheran history, and lots of surprises. Best of all, each step you take, each $26 you raise, supports a refugee child at school for one year!

HOPE Spot #40: Monday 21 December 2020

2.8 tonnes of rice

You probably haven’t heard of Mount Sinabung in Indonesia.

Or knew that it erupted on 20 August, bringing disaster to four villages.

Or that through ALWS you helped 413 families (2,065 people) recover from the disaster.

(And supported them to protect themselves from COVID-19.)

Through 2020, the ALWS family has been extraordinary.

Even as COVID-19 locked down Melbourne for months, terrified Adelaide for 3 days, and even now is causing new fears in the northern regions of Sydney …

… people like you have kept on reaching out to help others through ALWS.

There is not space here to list all the things you have done, but I wanted to share with you about Mt Sinabung so you can see how your kindness reaches even the smallest most remote communities …

… and makes sure the most disadvantaged people within them are not forgotten

… and that your help is monitored and tracked down to the last dollar, even when the total project is as targeted as $5,000.

Your Mount Sinabung Disaster Report

Center for Disaster Risk Management & Community Development Studies CDRM&CDS

Universitas HKBP Nommensen, Indonesia

Emergency Assistance to Communities affected by Mount Sinabung Eruption

Project Timeframe: 10 August 2020 – 31 October 2020

ALWS support: $5,000




Reason for Variance

Assessment & Distribution



Assessment & distribution carried out during the day with no overnight stays required





Rice @ 10kg



2,800kg rice required (cf to original 2,000kg) – help extended from 3 villages to 4 villages

Currency Variance








That’s the dollar count.

Here are the people you helped:

Villages: Ndeskati, Sukatepu, Sukandebi, Kutambelin – Tanah Karo Regency
Families: 413
People: 2,065 (including 1,106 children)
Special needs: 64 people with disabilities (including 32 children)

This is what you did for each family:

  • 5kg rice
  • 5 x COVID-19 masks

Your ALWS help was delivered by our Lutheran partner in Indonesia, CDRM&CDS, working with the Disaster Management Commission of the Gereja Batak Karo Protestan (GBKP) church.

The Lutheran team you support report that because of COVID-19 the local government of Tanah Karo had prohibited outsiders entering the affected villages.

However, the partnership with GBKP allowed your help
to reach the affected people when no one else could.

Thank you.

In this week leading up to celebrating God’s gift of the birth of our Saviour, I just wanted you to know the gift you are to people through ALWS.

People in places no one else goes.

People with needs few people know.

People in danger of being forgotten.

You are there. Your kindness and generosity is changing lives. You are a blessing ALWayS.

Thank you.


HOPE Spot #39: Friday 11 December 2020

COVID-19 has cancelled a lot of things this year:

  • interstate travel
  • a Collingwood premiership (COVID’s my excuse anyway)
  • the Walk My Ways planned for across Australia

… yet it has not cancelled people’s kindness and creativity!

Even though we could not Walk My Way together, 2,838 people found fresh new ways to Walk your Way

… and succeeded in support for 6,390 refugee children in school for a year!

If all those children stood COVID 1.5 metres apart,
the line of children would be 10 kilometres long!

You can see what school means to children when you watch this 90 second video from Yvonne Baraza at Kakuma Refugee Camp …

The good (brave) news is ALWS is planning a brand new Walk My Way for 2021!

Where:          Barossa Valley, South Australia
When:           SATURDAY 1 MAY

You’ll walk through stunning autumn-hued vineyards … past more Lutheran churches and schools than you can count on two hands (especially when one of those hands is holding a sizzling snag from our Barossa Barbie under the gums at St Hallett’s Winery).

You can walk with old friends, meet new ones, try out a bit of Barossa-Deutsch, keep an eye out for Lutheran winemakers … simply chat and have fun!

Your Barossa Valley Walk My Way is 26 kilometres – but you can do less … or do it in stages before the day … or do it where you live … or do a Wheel My Way or Woof My Way … even try a (Sleep) Walk My Way?????

Each step you take, each $26 you raise,
helps a refugee child go to school for a year!

The 2021 Walk My Way builds on this year’s ALWS Christmas Action campaign to get 10,000 refugee children BACK TO SCHOOL in 100 days, as soon as COVID allows.

None of us knows what the new year will bring, or what COVID-19 will do …

… but all of us know that children in refugee camps who have lost so much, must not be forgotten. That’s why I invite you to save the date:


Whether you walk … or wheel … or support someone … or donate direct …

your gift of school can never be taken awayyou bless a child ALWayS!


HOPE Spot #38: Tuesday 8 December 2020

You might think this is a happy photo.

It’s my son AJ, 5 minutes after passing his Driver’s Test and getting his Ps.

But for me, despite the name on the chocolates, the photo is not my favourite.

You see, the Ps mean AJ no longer needs me to drive him…

… to work at KFC (breakneck speed because he ‘forgot’ and is running late)

… to his Under 17s footy Saturday mornings (planning sneaky game tactics on the way)

… to school (although there never seems to be any rush on this one)

Many parents might jump with joy knowing Mum & Dad Taxi Service is no longer needed.

But I will miss it – I like being needed.  

Plus, now I have to worry about AJ on the road on his own, using his new independence to explore the world – without me protecting him!

What’s all that got to do with you?

I hope by now you have received your Count on Me Number Runner to send to Kakuma Refugee Camp in our ALWS 10,000 children BACK TO SCHOOL 100 days campaign.

Your kindness – $26 to support one child in school for one year – helps provide school-books, writing materials, training for teachers, school-desks and uniforms …

… and helps make sure no child is forgotten, whether they be an orphan, live with a disability, or have simply missed school because of what they have endured. Donate now

No one can ever take away the education you give these children …

… but there comes a time when they don’t need you and I anymore.

They must go on to make their own way in the world – and you might be surprised at what children from Kakuma have gone on to do:

  • Aliir Aliir – AFL player newly signed to Port Power from the Swans
  • Awer Mabil – Socceroo, goaled on debut
  • Adut Akech – from Adelaide, now rated #1 model in the world
  • Joseph Deng – holder of the Australian 800 metre record …

… all passed through Kakuma Refugee Camp, and all received the kind of education you give children now with your Back to School donation.

While you may know those names, you probably don’t know Yussuf Jeylaani Salah:

“When I lived in Sudan, I did not have much education so getting a job was difficult.  My grandfather and other family members were killed in conflict.  I came to Kakuma. 

In 2010 I worked to help build the Mogadishu Primary School.  This gave me a little money to buy some milk and meat for my family. 

Then I started learning at this school. 

Now I am very happy. 

I have been school chairman of the Parent Committee for 7 years.”

You also don’t know Bhan Simon Paul:

“When war broke out in my area in South Sudan, I was with my mother, father and siblings. 

One night the soldiers came and attacked us. There were mass killings in my area.  Everyone ran.  My older brother and I ran into the night.  We didn’t know what happened to the rest of our family.

The next morning, we had nothing left, just the tears in our eyes. 

We travelled by foot to the border and then the UN took us to the Camp. This was in 2010. But then my older brother left and so then I was all alone.  I felt a bitterness in my heart of not knowing what happened to all my family.

Luckily there was a school here and I could attend. 

I worked hard and finished secondary school with high grades. It was hard as I had no support. Then I came to teach to make a living. 

I have been teaching here since 2018.

I enjoy teaching as it gives me knowledge and gives me hope and I am seeing people who have lost hope coming forward again in life. They have all lost loved ones but can now have hope because they know that people in Australia sacrifice to teach them.”

You also don’t know Alier Atem Gabreil, the Food Security and Livelihoods Project Officer for the LWF team you support in Panyagor in South Sudan.

Alier became a refugee in 1987 when he was 9 years old.

After trekking to Ethiopia as one of the ‘Lost Boys’, he was turned back, and finally arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in 1992:

“When I arrived I was in Grade 3 and when I left, Form 4. 

I started school under the trees in 1993 and 1994.  Then LWF came in 1995 and built some schools.  There were not enough teachers, so there would be 100 students in class or more.  When I was in Year 8 there were 136 in my class.  It was so crowded in the room I felt I could not breathe!

I really wanted to finish my education. 

I wanted to do this so that I could help others and help with development.

I completed my training in a HIV course in 2005 and came back to Kakuma in 2006 and worked as a community Health Motivator. 

Then, in 2016 I went to South Sudan, working with LWF. I enjoy working with the farmers.  It is work you can see, and you are feeding others too! I enjoy working with those who want to change.  I want to mentor others.”

There are many other stories I could share with you of refugee children who received their schooling at Kakuma Refugee Camp …

… and who have now gone on to serve others as teachers, aid workers, community leaders, both at Kakuma Refugee Camp and back in their home countries like South Sudan.

That’s why the 10,000 children Back to School 100 days campaign is important.

Through ALWS, your $26 per child to support one year of school can be the start of a lifetime of service and contribution to the community.

As each child you help progresses at school, and achieves their Certificate of Completion, you may feel a pang they don’t need you directly anymore … and even a little worry about the world they must now face …

… but I hope these stories of success and service, started with the schooling you support, will inspire you, and show you just how precious you are. A blessing ALWayS. Thank you!


PS: Last night AJ asked me to drive him to work at KFC because his car had no petrol and he had no money! P – for Perfect! 😊

HOPE Spot #37: Thursday 3 December 2020

Let me introduce you to Damien Okello.

Damien is Audiologist at the Education Assessment Resource Centre you support at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

The goal here is to help make sure refugee children with disabilities aren’t forgotten, and don’t miss out on school.

Damien is passionate about this work.

His son Basil was born with epilepsy, and while we in Australia understand this doesn’t mean a disability … Damien and his wife had to work very hard to make sure Basil received the education that is every child’s right.

Damien explains their challenge this way:

“In our African cultures, until now we don’t feel OK to let others know we have a child with a disability, especially if it is a mental problem.

A mental disability is associated with demons and evil spirits. Other people do not want these children to come to school because they fear it is contagious.

Even when I was at school, these attitudes were there.

Our classroom was old and had holes in the wall. One day a child collapsed and was convulsing. There was foam from his mouth, and he lost control and urinated. Children ran in all directions through the holes in the walls. The teacher was the first to go. Later, it was said that if you even stepped in the urine, you would catch the same disease.

Having this Assessment Centre starts to change these attitudes.

When parents see success and improvement, they bring their children, because they want the same for their own child.”

Today is International Day of People with Disabilities.

Here at ALWS we are blessed to see the difference you make in the lives of people who live with a disability, even as they also face the hurt of poverty, are forced to live as refugees, or struggle to survive in conflict zones.

At Kakuma alone, you help support 240 children with disabilities to attend school. Like 14 year old Meron:

“I came from Ethiopia in 2013.  I became blind when I was very young because of disease.  It is good to be here and have the machine because I can write like other learners. 

I feel good to learn and I can get more knowledge from school.  My teacher helps me a lot.”

Joash is Meron’s teacher:

“I have been working here at Kakuma for 5 years.  I have a Special Needs Diploma which took me two years of study.

I love my work!

Before my training I met a blind person and I felt so sad for him.  This inspired me to go to training so that I can teach and help those who are blind.  It is like a calling.”

In the next day or two you should receive your Christmas Action pack.

Our goal this year is to get 10,000 children in East Africa back to school as soon as COVID-19 allows. It costs on average $26 to support one of these children in school for one year, and our aim is find the help needed in the next 100 days. Donate now

When you give your help, you can be assured
children with disabilities like Meron won’t miss out.

Just as Jesus specially sought out those overlooked or ignored, rejected or forgotten, so through ALWS do you…

… and your kindness and generosity are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!


PS: You still have time to order your Gifts of Grace – on-line here or by calling 1300 763 407. Do it this weekend to make sure ALWS volunteers like Wilma and John can pack your order in time for pre-Christmas delivery…

… and remember, because of COVID-19, this year ALWS didn’t print new Grace Cards. Instead, the ALWS family said it was fine to recycle unused Grace Cards.  You can have as many Grace Packs of 7 cards as you wish PLUS the first 500 Gifts of Grace orders receive an African fabric COVID-19 mask, as modelled by Wilma and John. These were sewn by former refugees at the Lutheran Community Sewing Group.

HOPE Spot #36: Tuesday 1 December 2020

Count on Me to go back to school!

Do you remember being in Grade 3?

I’m not sure I do (nearly 55 years ago) … but I’m certain I couldn’t draw as well as the Grade 2/3s at St Michael’s Lutheran School in Hahndorf SA, and Geelong Lutheran College.

Look what they have created!



This is a Number Runner, designed to help younger children learn to count …

… and what’s exciting is you can sign your name on it, and ALWS will pass it on to children at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya! (Yours will arrive in the mail … or you can find them in Lutheran churches across the country