published in Australian GovernmentChildrenChristmas ActionClimate changeCOVID-19DisabilityEducationEmergencyFamilyFarmerFarming / AgricultureFood SecurityGifts of GraceHealth / HealthcareHousesHuman RightsLivelihoods / Small Business / New SkillsPovertyRefugeesSocial JusticeSustainable DevelopmentTake ActionToilets / SanitationWASHWaterWomen / GirlsYour Love At Work on September 30, 2020

COVID-19 HOPE Spots!

Everyone is talking about COVID-19 Hotspots – so let’s enjoy some COVID-19 HOPE Spots!


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!

Jonathan

 

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!

 

PLUS …

… 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.

 

PLUS …

… 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!

Jonathan

 

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 [email protected] 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!

Jonathan

 

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.

Jonathan


HOPE Spot #20: Wednesday 20 April

509,873

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!

 Jonathan

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.

Why?

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.

Jonathan

 

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!

Jonathan

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 alws.org.au 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 alws.org.au If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to [email protected]

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: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87406633121

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!

Jontahan

 

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.

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

 

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 alws.org.au 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 alws.org.au If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to [email protected]

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.

 

HYGIENE PACK

FAMILY FOOD PACK

SENIORS CARE

·     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

$25

$38

$16

 

 

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.

Jonathan

 

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!

Jonathan

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.

ALWayS.

Thank you.

Jonathan

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:

HYGIENE PACK

FAMILY FOOD PACK

SENIORS CARE

·     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

$25

$38

$16

 

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.

DONATE NOW

 

YOUR ALWS ACTION FOR UKRAINE

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.

DONATE NOW

 

ACTION 1

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.

 

ACTION 2

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

 

ACTION 3

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!                               

Jonathan

 

CALL 1300 763 407 OR DONATE NOW

 

PS: ACTION 4

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.

Jonathan


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

Piglets

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.

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

 

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:

DONATE HERE FOR TONGA

 

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!

Jonathan


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!

Jonathan

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.

Jonathan

 

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!)

Sniff.

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!)

Jonathan

 


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.

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

 

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!

Jonathan

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

 

GAIN LIFE

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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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.

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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 😊!)

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

DID YOU KNOW …

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!

Jonathan

 

DID YOU KNOW …

… 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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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! 

Jonathan 

 

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

Dads

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

GOODNESS GROWS

“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

MORE THAN CHICKEN FEED

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

A-MAIZE-ING!

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!

Jonathan

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.

Jonathan

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:

Target:

    • 660 households
    • displaced from their homes
    • 4,620 people

Focus:

    • women
    • elderly-headed households
    • widows
    • orphans
    • people with disabilities

Location:

    • Kabul City
    • many people are living in tents
    • others staying with family and friends already poor

Action:

    • 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

Challenges

    • 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.

Jonathan

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 alws.org.au 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 alws.org.au

If you don’t wish to receive further news from ALWS, simply call 1300 763 407 or write to [email protected]

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

DONATE NOW

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

DONATE NOW

 

HAITI EARTHQUAKE

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.

DONATE NOW

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.

CRITICAL PRIORITY

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

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.

Jonathan

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 [email protected]. Thank you!

 

YOUR PRAYERS ARE PRECIOUS

AFGHANISTAN

  • 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

HAITI

  •  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

ALWS & OUR PARTNERS

  • 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.

DONATE NOW FOR AFGHANISTAN

 

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:

PARTNERSHIP

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. 

PARLIAMENTARIANS

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.)

PRAYER

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: https://zoom.us/j/93075309769?pwd=SlpzYlNES0hCL3NBMnRVK2I5bXpCZz09

Meeting ID: 930 7530 9769        Passcode: 299907

 

HAITI EARTHQUAKE       

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.

 

HOPE

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.

Jonathan


HOPE Spot #30: Wednesday 10 August

Mmmmmmm….

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 …

 

Menu

Loxton …

 

Kakuma …

 

Meals

Loxton …

Kakuma …

 

Mums (and dads)

Loxton …

 

Kakuma …

 

Marking time

Loxton …

 

Kakuma …

  

(s)Miles

Loxton …

 

Kakuma …

 

mmmmmm…

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!

Jonathan

 

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!

Jonathan

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

15

Safety helmet

15

Search light

3

Gum boots

15

Hand axe

3

Rescue gloves

15

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!

Jonathan

PS: You can see more of your ALWS action in Nepal at alws.org.au 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!

 Jonathan

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!)

 

PUMPKINS – MORE THAN SCONES

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.

 

HARVEST

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!

Jonathan


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.

 

LIVES CHANGE BECAUSE OF YOU

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!

Jonathan

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 …

Photo: CDRM&CDS

“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 😊

Photo: CDRM&CDS

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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan


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…

… HOPE!

That’s your gift through ALWS – thank you!

Jonathan


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 …

 

MALLEE ROOTS

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!

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?”

Jonathan

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 [email protected])

 


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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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.

HOW AID CUTS HURT PEOPLE

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. 😊

Jonathan

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.

Jonathan

Did you know?AustraliaNepal
Population25 million30 million
Intesive Care Beds2,3781,600
Ventilators

With portables: 5,000
(one per 5,000 people)

600
(one per 50,000 people)

Doctors per 1,000 people3.590.7

 


HOPE Spot #16: Friday 7 May

Barefoot

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!

Jonathan


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!

Jonathan

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 😊

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan


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 😊

Jonathan

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.

DAMAGE

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.

YOUR ALWS ACTION

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

FIRE DANGER IN CAMPS

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.”

INSIDE MYANMAR

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.”

THANK YOU

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.

Jonathan

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.

 

PNG COVID 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 ACTION

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.

 

SISTER JOAN

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.”

 

YOU

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.

Jonathan

 

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!)


COFFEE KICK-OFF

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.


TAKE THE CAKE

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

walkmyway.org.au * 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 😊

Jonathan

STEPPING OUT … SO REFUGEE CHILDREN CAN STEP IN TO SCHOOL!


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

walkmyway.org.au * 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!

Jonathan


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.

Jonathan

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.

MORE CUCUMBERS …

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 …

https://youtu.be/brCPuMlpCV4

… 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

ONE MILLION LOAVES OF BREAD …

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.

… FIVE LOAVES OF BREAD

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

Jonathan

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.

Why?

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:

Food

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.

COVID-19

Across all arrivals

Awareness-raising.
Face masks.
Hand sanitiser.

Shelter

2,600 families

Plastic sheets, mattresses, bed-sheets, blankets, pillows.

Livelihoods

2,470 families

 

Seeds and farm tools.
Small animals eg goats

Psycho-social

Vulnerable people

Counselling. Resilience.
Peace-building.

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.

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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! 😊

Jonathan


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. 😊

Jonathan

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.

Jonathan

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.

Jonathan    

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! walkmyway.org.au


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

Activity

Budget

Actual

Reason for Variance

Assessment & Distribution

$1075

$378

Assessment & distribution carried out during the day with no overnight stays required

Masks

$1766

$1727

 

Rice @ 10kg

$2159

$2939

2,800kg rice required (cf to original 2,000kg) – help extended from 3 villages to 4 villages

Currency Variance

($44)

 

 

$5,000 

$5,000

 

 

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.

Jonathan


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:

SATURDAY 1 MAY – BAROSSA VALLEY, SA
walkmyway.org.au * 1300 763 407

Whether you walk … or wheel … or support someone … or donate direct …

your gift of school can never be taken awayyou bless a child ALWayS!

Jonathan


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!

Jonathan

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!

Jonathan

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 … just in time to help make Christmas special.)

 

 

Your Count on Me Number Runner leads our ALWS Christmas Action campaign. Our aim is to support 10,000 children in 100 days to get back to school in East Africa (as soon as COVID allows).

Your donation of $26 per child can support school for one year – school-books, stationery, training for refugee teachers, whatever a child like Masega needs most.

Last time I was at Kakuma, I asked the young children to draw pictures of what they wanted to be when they grow up. (Again, they were much better artists than I was!)

The Top 4 Jobs:

  • Pastor
  • Teacher
  • Doctor
  • Helicopter Pilot

Helicopter pilot?

The reason is helicopters brought in emergency food aid when floods cut roads in South Sudan.

So, the children you support through ALWS all plan jobs that help other people!

Help a child to go to school NOW!

10,000 children in 100 days is a big goal.

I worried it was too big – until Trinity Lutheran School in Mildura sent a video of their Grade 2s after a Zoom ALWS Awareness Session.

Watch 2 minute video now

… and you’ll see, just like the children at Kakuma, the children at Mildura want to help people too!

Thank you for all do to help people through ALWS (including Gifts of Grace).

Please enjoy sending your Count on Me Number Runner for children at Kakuma Refugee Camp … it will be a burst of joy you deserve at the end of this COVID year!

When you do, please know the school you give a child today is a blessing ALWayS!

Jonathan

PS: If you don’t receive your Count on Me in the mail, or at church before Christmas, let us know so we can send one – 1300 763 407. Join the 10,000 children BACK TO SCHOOL in 100 days here – just $26 to support one child in school for one year. Thank you!


HOPE Spot #35: Friday 27 November 2020

Grandparents, Gifts of Grace and Georgia
change the world with chocolate chip cookies 

Yes, I know, that’s a mouthful of a subject line…

… but this HOPE Spot is all about how Year 9 student Georgia used a project at school to turn choc-chip cookies into hot meals for refugees!

 

CHOICE JOURNEY REFLECTION

For my Choice Journey I chose to make Bake-Mix jars and sell them to raise money to buy hot meals for refugees in Kakuma, Kenya.

I chose this project because I always reflect on, and feel guilty about, how my life is so easy compared to people that live in poverty-stricken countries. An example of this are refugees, trying to escape from unsafe or war-torn areas.

I know that the Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) runs a program called Gifts of Grace, where you can buy a present on behalf of someone that actually helps someone far away. This is an alternative to buying meaningless mass-produced gifts/presents for people you know.

I know about this because every Christmas
my grandparents’ present to me is money
donated directly to Gifts of Grace, in my name.

The Bake-Mix jars I made were essentially jars, filled with exact measurements of all dry ingredients for a recipe, so that when you want to bake it, simply add the jar contents in a bowl and add the ‘wet ingredients’ then bake in the oven according to the label.

At times it was challenging because making all 72 of the jars was tiring and stressful, and then selling them also consumed a lot of time, effort, and planning.

 

I wanted to create something that served a double purpose – to the people buying, and the refugees. My project also served a wider purpose- my grandmother purchased 10 jars and then donated them to Bayley House (disabled care). She thought the people there would love to use my jars in cooking classes.

I also received an extra $500 donation from a member of my church, and purchased different Gifts of Grace like Child Clothing Packs, Goats and School Supplies.

This experience definitely transformed me and now I’d be open to doing something similar in the future. I’m so thrilled with the outcome of my project, every bit of positive feedback and all the people it affected who benefited from it, including myself morally.

 

I’m sure you want to join me in thanking Georgia for being so creative and kind in this year of COVID challenge … and her grandparents for inspiring her with their ALWS Gifts of Grace.

Now you’ll have to excuse me – I hear a biscuit barrel calling! 😊

Jonathan

PS: If you haven’t ordered your ALWS Gifts of Grace for this Christmas, you still can – online here or simply call 1300 763 407! Thank you!

 


HOPE Spot #34: Friday 20 November

Hi from SA Lockdown!

I’d started to feel a bit sorry for myself – but then thought of the people you help in refugee camps through ALWS, the challenges they face, and all they have lost.

It’s interesting, when you go into a refugee camp, you learn a lot.

You see all the wonderful things people like you do …

… children smiling and singing and all sticking up their hands at the same time in the schools you support

… new arrivals being welcomed with food and blankets and ‘slippers’ (what we call thongs)

… people who have suffered trauma receiving care

… and so much more.

You see resilience and courage and faith (amazing faith).

This Sunday, at the Lutheran Church I go to, the Gospel reading is Matthew 25:34 – 40.

This is where Jesus talks about feeding those who are hungry, giving a drink to those who are thirsty, welcoming the stranger, caring especially for those who are forgotten by the world. (All the things you do through ALWS.)

I’m doing the message at church on Sunday, on video because of our SA COVID lockdown.

I’ll be sharing how I saw Jesus
at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

Yes, Jesus.

I thought you might want to watch the message, given this work in the refugee camp is your work.

Be warned – it’s 18 minutes long, and you’ll have to look at my COVID-weary face way longer than anyone should have to …

… but it’s mostly stories of the people you help, and what you and I can learn from them about life. If you don’t come away humbled and inspired and excited by these amazing people, I’ll be surprised.

For those of us in SA, the video uses up 1/500th of the time we are in 6 Day Lockdown 😊

For all of us, the video is a chance to see what your kindness means to those you help – regardless of where they come from, what they believe, who they vote for.

This is what happens when love comes to life, no strings attached.

As you watch, I pray you will see Jesus, just as I did.

Jonathan

PS: Even if you don’t watch the video – thank you. You are a blessing.


 

HOPE Spot #33: 6 November 2020

I reckon you would have liked my Auntie Melva.

She did the best Potato Bake on the planet, and would always make sure she cooked enough that everyone could have seconds.

Cooking was only one of Auntie Melva’s acts of service.

Well into her 80s, she’d still be busy looking after ‘the oldies’ as her personal Christian ministry.

Right now, as two senior gentlemen loudly and publicly vie for the power of being President of the United States …

… I want you to meet two senior ladies in Indonesia who you support to quietly serve their communities, helping protect against COVID-19.

Armaulian is 70, and a Village Health Worker on Mentawai Island.

 Armaulin distributes masks, soap and posters, and goes door-to-door teaching people how to protect themselves from the virus.

“At this elderly age I am proud and happy being able to help communities prevent COVID-19.

I am not only a Village Health Worker, but am also engaged in Church service in my village.

When I see the community’s indifference toward health protocols, I remind people to wear a mask when they go out of their houses.”

 Kartina (below) is 68.

 Kartina helped create a Village Disaster Preparedness Map for her community, supported by ALWS and the Australian Government.

“Elderly people, particularly women, used to be neglected and never engaged.

We were seen only as passive recipients.

The elder women used to be considered as a burden and useless in this community.

 Now our contributions are recognised in social activities like this COVID-19 health campaign.

It’s a pride at this elderly age that I can contribute something to my community.”

In our age-obsessed world, society too often ignores the value of seniors’ wisdom, fails to appreciate their generosity, and underestimates their energy.

Here at ALWS we are blessed to see those qualities in people like Armaulian and Kartina …

… and in supporters who humbly and sacrificially donate time and money to serve others.

That’s why today, no matter what happens in the US, I thank God for Seniors.

Jonathan

Photos: CDRM&CDS    
Interviews: Fared Sirilelelu


HOPE Spot #32: 28 October 2020

What great news!

Finally, after so many months, Melbourne is finally coming out of lockdown.

All I can say is thank you to everyone who has endured so much, with such patience and grace, to protect the rest of us in other parts of Australia.

Talking to family in Melbourne on Monday night, they told me that as well as feeling excited, they are also a little anxious about going back to work, and resuming some of the life they had before.

So, it’s no time to stop our prayers and support for Melbourne just yet.

Our support is needed too for the workers delivering your ALWS help in some of the toughest parts of the world – like South Sudan.

As you can see below, it’s not just the normal challenges your team faces, and not just the impact of COVID-19 …

… but now the teams you support face floods too!

Heavy rains have caused the Nile to flood, putting 150,000 people in Jonglei State (where you work through ALWS) at risk.

Lokiru Yohana, Regional LWF Coordinator for East Africa, told us:

“Farms and crops are damaged. Settlements are under water. Roads, schools, latrines are all submerged. Many domestic animals have died.

The extremely poor sanitation conditions are exposing people to water-borne disease at a time when they are also battling COVID-19.

The floods also destroy crops, setting up the risk of a food crisis next year.”

Yet your LWF team keeps working to get help through, aiming to provide:

  • sand bags
  • plastic sheets
  • blankets
  • fishing sets
  • food for young people, working as volunteers to repair dykes.

Tragically, it’s not just South Sudan where floods are making it a challenge to get your help through – Cambodia is suffering severe flooding too.

This is the office of our ALWS partner, Life with Dignity (LWD), in Bavel District. Two of the hardest hit provinces in Cambodia are Battambang and Pursat, where our Aussie-supported work is focused.

Poverty. COVID-19. Locusts (in South Sudan). Now floods.

While the challenges are many, your help continues to get through.

The workers you support through ALWS live in the communities they serve. They quickly see what is needed most – and can make sure it gets there.

For example, in Cambodia, your LWD team emergency response can include action like:

  • truck in clean water
  • supply Hygiene Kits
  • distribute food, kitchen sets and blankets
  • repair water-pumps and provide water storage containers
  • restock small livestock
  • kick-start agriculture.

You can support ALWS emergence response wherever it happens here.

You may also be interested to check out this 10 minute video.

It’s simply an interview my wife Julie and I did for our church (Seaford Lutheran) on ALWS 70th Sunday on 18 October.

(The interviewer is our Pastor, Mark Kaesler. Mark is living with the challenge of a very tough cancer diagnosis, yet somehow still finds the strength to serve our church community when the chemo side-effects allow. Amazing courage and commitment.)

In the interview, you will hear more of the behind-the-scenes challenges in getting your care through to the people you help …

… including a very embarrassing story about me and a toilet stop in the middle of nowhere in Kenya at 3 in the morning with two guards carrying AK-47s!

(The smiles of those guards were almost as big as those you will find in your new Gifts of Grace 😊)

Speaking of which – don’t forget that the first 500 Gifts of Grace orders receive a FREE souvenir COVID mask!

These are made from beautiful African fabric, and sewn by former refugees, supported by volunteers, at the Lutheran Community Sewing Group in Adelaide.

Order Gifts of Grace now

Thank you again for all you do to help others through ALWS.

I don’t know what challenges you have faced in this very tough COVID year…

… but I know your courage to keep on being kind and generous is a real encouragement to the workers on the front-line.

Whether they are waist-deep in flood waters … gloved and masked teaching about COVID in remote villages … welcoming scared and exhausted people seeking safety in refugee camps … your commitment is a comfort, and reassurance their sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed.

Thank you for being there when you are needed most.

Jonathan

PS: I hope you received – and enjoyed – your ALWS 70th edition of The Lutheran. A number of people asked why my name wasn’t in there anywhere. It’s simply because ALWS is you and what you do. I feel privileged to work for you, as together we seek to bring love to life for the world’s forgotten people.

Photos: LWF South Sudan & LWD Cambodia


HOPE Spot #31: 21 October 2020

Before you do anything else
watch this two minute video

(Have tissues handy.)

I hope I’m wrong.

I hope I’m like my Dad, who even at 85 still tells people:

 “I thought I made a mistake once
– but I was wrong.”

What I hope I’m wrong about is COVID this Christmas.

More and more I fear I won’t get to see my kids in Melbourne. There’s no sign of border restrictions lifting any time soon.

No doubt, there are loved ones you are missing too.

This Christmas, when COVID-19 is keeping us apart, we need to find fresh ways to stay connected. Not just to those we love …

… but to people in the world’s poorest places – forgotten, and threatened by poverty, conflict and COVID-19.

That’s why this year your ALWS Gifts of Grace is different.

Printed catalogues will arrive in letterboxes across the country next week …

… but you can sneak-peek here the special Gifts of Grace features to help you come close this COVID Christmas.

First thing you’ll see are smiles.

41 of them.

Whether you keep a Baby Strong ($10) …

… supply a refugee child with School Lunches for a year + clean water to stay safe from COVID-19 ($15)

… set up a mobile fertiliser factory with a Super Pig ($61)

… your hands-on help will bring smiles of joy and make you 😊 😊 😊 too!

Second things you’ll see?

  • the 21 gifts are based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 25
  • with 5 gifts under $10 (perfect for children to give)
  • and all are tax-deductible (meaning you can do more!)

What’s exciting is you give real practical help that makes a long-lasting community-wide difference – rather than sending boxes of ‘stuff’ that is too soon tossed away.

Third?

These are sewn for you by former refugees who are now part of the Lutheran Community Sewing Group in Adelaide.

Aminata, who you see here, fled Liberia.

There she was a heavy diesel mechanic. Now she’s sewing for you!

Fourth (yes there’s more!)

To make sure you can connect with everyone this COVID Christmas, you can have as many Grace Cards as you wish!

They come in a Grace Pack of 7, with a range of cards showing gifts that reflect the powerful words of Jesus in Matthew 25 (You fed me, you gave me a drink …)

To make this possible, ALWS has recycled unused Grace Cards.

(ALWS supporters told us in a survey they were happy with this idea.)

Now, no one need miss out on receiving a Grace Card from you, no matter how many actual gifts you give! Order now

Friends of ALWS have already put together your Grace Packs.

When you place your order, more ALWS volunteers will pack and send your order within 48 hours!

So, that’s this year’s Gifts of Grace.

I hope I’m wrong about COVID border restrictions and lock-downs, and that all of us can see face-to-face those we love …

… but in case those safety measures remain, I pray Gifts of Grace can bring you close.

To your family and friends.

And the forgotten people you help in the world’s poorest places through ALWS. Thank you!

Jonathan


HOPE Spot #30: 16 October 2020

On Wednesday night I was pleased to see the return of Gruen on ABC TV, looking at how advertising works.

They had a piece on Tik-Tok – an online place designed (it seems) for tiny videos people make showing themselves doing silly things.

Anyway, today I have a tiny video for you too.

In fact, it features you.

Not doing silly things …

… but the wonderful things you do through ALWS to change the lives of people like Nget Son from Cambodia.

Click here for 3 minutes of pure joy!

While you may not see your face …

… you will see your kindness reflected in the smiles of the

people you help through ALWS!

 In this year when COVID-19 has brought so many challenges, and such despair for people living in lockdown, I pray seeing your achievements through ALWS will lift spirits.

This weekend 16 – 18 October is when we mark 70 years of ALWS service.

We had public events planned to thank you for what you do, but COVID-19 has changed all that. Your video is just one part of giving thanks, and you can also visit ALWS 70th

Here you can explore stories from ALWS’ beginnings at Bonegilla Migrant Centre in 1950 – told by people who were there …

plus read messages of thanks from around the world, and even from Government here in Australia.

Yesterday the Border Mail newspaper in Albury featured what you do through ALWS, plus joined in the cutting of a big 70th birthday cake – read here!

You can also join Pastor Stephen Schultz, Assistant Bishop for Mission in the Lutheran Church in South Australia, as he reflects on his visit to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya … one of the places you help refugee children go to school through the ALWS GRACE Project.

While none of this is how we planned to celebrate with you 70 years of ALWS service  …

… I hope you see you are part of something wonderful, bringing love to life for people the world has forgotten. Which is why ALWS gives thanks to God 70 times over for people like you!

Now go watch yourself on the video, if you haven’t already 😊!

Jonathan

PS: If you’d like to give a special ‘70’ gift to give thanks for 70 years of ALWS service, click here. Thank you!

Photo: ALWS


HOPE Spot #29: 7 October 2020

My mate Mark is Chaplain at a Lutheran school in Melbourne.

Because of COVID lockdown, Mark’s been doing on-line devotions for staff, and hangers-on like me. Today’s devotion had a sentence that jumped out for me:

Where there is great love
there are always miracles.

 Mark, like me, is a Collingwood supporter, so I thought he may have been referring to our Saturday night victory over West Coast 😊 …

… but seriously, those words ‘Where there is great love there are always miracles’ really remind me of what you do for people through ALWS.

That’s why I hope some time this week you will find this in your letterbox:

2020 is the 70th anniversary of when ALWS began – in the Bonegilla Migrant Centre, near Albury, welcoming refugees and migrants fleeing Europe after World War 2.

We’d planned a bunch of public events to give thanks for 70 years of service through ALWS (public dinner, Walk My Way, tours of Bonegilla) – but COVID cancelled all that.

Instead, we received a grant to put together the special edition of The Lutheran magazine you should have received by now.

The magazine is packed with stories of the ‘miracles’ people like you make happen when you bring love to life through ALWS. Let me tell you about just one – Khoun Tha, the Cambodian lady on the front cover:

Before your help, Khoun Tha and her husband Ouern Von could grow only cassava and sweet potato on their poor soil. They could not earn enough money to survive, so had to labour for others. They feared they would always be poor.

Thanks to you, through ALWS and local partner LWD, the couple learned about composting, mulch, and organic fertiliser (from animal manure).

According to Ouern Van:

“… we now plant all around our house – banana, coconut, mango, watermelon, peanuts, corn. We grow to plant rice. Our plan is to keep planting crops.”

Their community has Deep Wells, a School, a Community Building (they built themselves), a Cow Bank, Bio-Gas supplies and a Savings Group.

In this village alone, 233 families are blessed by the benefits your ALWS kindness planted. As Khoun Tha says, they now have hope for a better future – and the confidence and resources to stand up to COVID-19 now

For these families, it’s a miracle …
… started with your great love.

That brings us right back to the early days of ALWS at Bonegilla Migrant Centre (pages 10 & 11 of your The Lutheran).

Pastor Norman Sander, the Lutheran Chaplain there from 1960 – 1970, said this about the work at that time:

“The language of love prevailed
in spite of general language difficulties …
we were not concerned as to what religion
the people followed, we all just wanted
to help them in their need.”

Exactly what you still do through ALWS today.

Thank you!

Jonathan

PS: If you’d like to give a special ‘70’ gift to give thanks for 70 years of ALWS service, click here. Thank you!


HOPE Spot #28: 30 September 2020

I know your last HOPE Spot was only a few days ago – but this news from Nepal says so much about the kind of help (and hope) you give through ALWS, I wanted to share it with you straightaway.

While COVID-19 has forced changes in what you do …

… you keep on bringing little bursts of joy to people the world has forgotten.

Like the 225 women in Jhapa Region in Nepal we will go and visit now …

These 225 women face at least four challenges:

  • they are women (too often not listened to)
  • living with a disability (rejected, shut away)
  • in country regions (far from city facilities)
  • poorest of the poor (some may even be former bonded labourers).

Your help here is just like you – humble, practical, hard-working.

Through ALWS, partnering with the Australian Government, each of these 225 women receive a Dignity Kit, containing:

  • COVID-19 surgical mask
  • re-usable Sanitary Napkins
  • comb
  • nail-cutter
  • bathing soap
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • torch
  • slippers
  • whistle

Simple things.

Things the rest of the world takes for granted…

… but for these women, your kindness and real-life care tells them they are precious, and deserving of respect.

It proclaims that same message to their community. (You can see this in photo below where men are in the audience as women are taught about the re-usable Sanitary Napkins.)

Your help has an impact beyond the immediate challenges, and the COVID crisis.

You support these women with disabilities to receive proper recognition from the Nepal government, so they can receive all the services that are their right. (ALWS has spearheaded global action in the communities where you work to uphold the rights of people with disabilities.)

As you can see in the photo below, you also teach the community that domestic violence must be stopped, and that all lives are precious.

For me, as a Christian, in all this work you do through ALWS, I see Jesus.

Going to the poor, the sick, the rejected – the forgotten.

Welcoming them. Helping them. Bringing love to life.

Others may see only soap and nail-cutters and comb – you and I see hope.

My prayer is this brings you your own little burst of joy today!

Jonathan

 

All photos: LWF Nepal


HOPE Spot #27: 25 September 2020

I read a marketing blog this morning that proclaimed aid agencies shouldn’t talk to people like you about hope.

The blog said hope is too vague.

Hmmm.

I can’t help but think about Melbourne.

I have two children, one sister, three ALWS team members and many friends there.

I so admire the courage and perseverance of people across Melbourne for the sacrifices they are making to protect the rest of us across Australia from COVID-19.

Talking to them, I hear them hoping each day for lower infection numbers, and a way out of lockdown. That hope doesn’t sound too vague to me.

Now, what about what you do in people’s lives through ALWS?

Is it only delivering ‘things’ – food, water, improved seeds, training against COVID-19?

Yes, you do all that – wonderfully – but is there hope in there somewhere too?

Let’s see. We’ll head first to Nadapal, a rough little town sitting on the border between South Sudan and Kenya … and into the Transit Centre where the LWF team you support through ALWS welcomes refugees the moment they cross the border.

(This is people’s first stop before they are taken to safety at Kakuma Refugee Camp.)

We will also head into Adelaide, into a Year 8 class at a Lutheran College.

You’re there too, teaching students about justice and generosity and faith lived in real life, through ALWS Awareness sessions. There you will meet student Kate.

Nadapal first.

Your work here is carried out by people like Sarah Ewoi, mum of four, Social Worker, speaker of 11 languages.

If you look closely, you can see your ALWS logo on Sarah’s jacket. So, let’s ask her how she spends her day delivering your help:

“I report to the office at 8:00am. My job starts with supervising the cleaning of the Transit Centre. I then conduct psychosocial assessments of new arrivals, I explain to them what is expected
of the refugees and asylum seekers during their stay at Nadapal.

I also educate them on their rights and entitlements, conduct psychosocial first aid for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence then compile and send daily reports.

I love the fact that every day I make a difference in the life of a person in need.”

Sarah’s 11 languages are English, Swahili, Turkana, Arabic, Tira, Toposa, Jie, Dinka, Diddinga, Logir and French …

… but perhaps the most important language is the one you speak too – kindness.

“When I meet children, especially those who are unaccompanied, I’m able to speak their language, which quickly connects me to them, and gains their trust. Being a mother helps me create a home environment for them.”

When asked if there is any person she has helped who touched her heart in a special way, Sarah shares:

“I once met a 14-year-old girl who had run away from home when her parents wanted to marry her off to a 50-year-old man.

The girl had been physically abused by her father and had fresh wounds all over her body after she declined to be married off.

She then ran away, walked for 5 days, slept in the bushes with no food and water just to get to the transit centre.

She was rescued, cared for and is now pursuing her secondary school education. She wants to be a humanitarian lawyer in future.”

This brings us to Kate, the Year 8 student at a Lutheran College in Adelaide. With no knowledge of Sarah’s story of the 14 year old girl, Kate wrote this poem:

 

SHE

She walks away from her home.
Only carrying what she could grab,
She carries Hope.
They have no set path,
Just away from the war.
She kicks the stones.
Her old and tatty shoes collect the dust,
Her skin is as cracked as the ground.
The boy in front weeps like the rest,
For he has lost his mother and father to the war.
She passes a sign but it doesn’t matter,
For she can’t read.
The sun burns her back for her clothes are torn.
She takes a sip of water it makes her feel sick though.
She sees a sign and someone screams
KAKUMA!
She has arrived with what she has and,
Hope.

 

Hope.

I don’t know how you are feeling today.

If COVID is pressing you down. If it all feels too hard. If being apart from those you love hurts too much.

No matter how you feel, the fact is a refugee like that 14 year old girl at Nadapal can dream of being a human rights lawyer because of what you do …

… and a new generation here in Australia can be fired up to carry on your caring because of the education and inspiration you help provide.

For me, that makes a HOPE Spot big enough for today. I pray it is for you too.

Jonathan

PS: Thank you to Yvonne Baraza from LWF Kenya for interviewing Sarah … and to all the Year 8s in Adelaide who wrote stunning poems welcoming refugees.

Photo: LWF Kenya


HOPE Spot #26: 4 September 2020

By now you’ll know COVID-19 has caused us to cancel the public events we’d planned to give thanks for 70 years of ALWS of service.

I thought 70 years was a long time to be helping others – but then we met Nita Jansen!

Married for 53 years, widowed since 1991, this year Nita celebrated her 100th birthday!

Instead of gifts on her milestone, Nita asked guests to give a donation to help refugee children go to school through ALWS.

Nita and her birthday guests now support 42 refugee children to go to school!

“I have always loved children. I have cared for many children over the years. They bring goodness into our lives.

How have I made it to 100? I have always kept busy and I walked everywhere. Walking works! My father always said, “Slow down Nita, you walk too fast!

I was always ‘head down and bum up’!

I have been called Florence Nightingale as I enjoy nursing and caring for people. Even when I worked in a café, people would call me ‘nursie’!

I’ve always had a soft spot for children. 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.”

If you’re doing it tough because of COVID, I hope Nita’s smile and kindness will lift your spirits. While you may not yet have made 100 years, or even 70 years, of service …

… thank you for sharing Nita’s heart for helping others!

Jonathan


HOPE Spot #25: 21 August 2020

This HOPE Spot is not from me Jonathan. It is from Mr Sohel Rana, who is delivering your ALWS help to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Sohel will give you a first-hand eyewitness account of the impact your kindness is making for people who have lost everything.

“I am happy I can serve the forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar.

This fulfills both my religious faith and personal humanitarian virtues, as I am joining the contribution to reducing the suffering of human beings.

Right now, I am leading a team of 17 project staff and camp-based volunteers who are devoted to support the Rohingyas to come back to a healthy and peaceful life in their camps.

The fact that my work helps distressed people to come back to the normal and healthy life satisfies me both professionally and personally.

It is a great gesture of the most of the Bangladeshis intended to welcome the forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar where they have been facing violence and discrimination in Bangladesh despite the country being overcrowded already.

“This gave me a realization that humanity comes first while we deal the crisis.”

What I have experienced has made me more open and filled with more commitment, motivation and compassion …to support people of all backgrounds, origin, color, religion, ethnicity, caste and political conviction.”

 

 

HOW YOU HELP PROTECT REFUGEES FROM COVID-19

“Even before COVID-19 came, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) was an essential service in the refugee camps.

We have been teaching Rohingya refugees on WASH practices and distributing hygiene kits among the targeted refugees.

The hygiene kits help refugees convert their knowledge into practices.

Alongside this, we clean the drainage channels in the camp to improve the overall hygiene.

When we started, the program was small. I self-vowed to make this a bigger one to serve more people … in an impact-focused, efficient and cost-effective manner.”

 

 

 

HOW THE TREES YOU PLANTED ARE GROWING FOR REFUGEES

“The Rohingya camp used to be a forest reserve before August 2017.

The forest had to be cleared to shelter the Rohingyas when they arrived in 2017. This created new problems – frequent landslides in the monsoon season, extreme heating, and depletion of water levels.

Our project has already planted more than 10,000 locally adapted saplings, and we look forward to planting 20,000 more saplings this year.

The fast-growing trees we have planted have grown big already, giving shade to Rohingyas from sun. It satisfies me a lot when I see people resting under the shade of our plants. Also, when they thank us for saving them from landslides, it makes me proud.”

This is all your work through ALWS, so I only need to add two words to what Sohel has shared with you – thank you!

 Jonathan


HOPE Spot #24: 7 August 2020

I blame my neighbour.

If it wasn’t for his stupid back verandah, my back would still work.

The few muscles I have would not be knots.

I could bend down to untie my shoe-laces.

You see, over the weekend I saw my neighbour removing old pavers to put in a new verandah.

So I stuck my head over the fence and asked if he needed a hand.

He said no, he was fine …

… but meant yes, please please please.

So I put on my tradie pants, and tradie boots and flannie shirt, and went over.

My job was to lever out the old pavers with a spade, get down on my knees to stack them, and then my neighbour could barrow them away.

My neighbour said if we got half done, that would be enough.

When we had got half done, I was three quarters dead.

So, on that mathematics, there was no way I could complete the job.

But the end was in sight.

And I liked looking like a tradie.

So we decided to go for it.

My son AJ brought in another barrow and his teenage muscles.

We pumped up the music and punched each other in the arm.

An hour of sweat and stumbles and grunts and groans later …

… we’d done it. Every paver lifted and shifted!

(50 square metres of pavers. Each paver 20 centimetres square. Therefore, 25 pavers per square metre. Thus, 1,250 pavers. And 1,250 levers and lifts. By a 61 year old body.)

Helping your neighbour can be hard.

(If you look at the example of Jesus, you see this over and over.)

Right now, as the battle against COVID-19 is so close to home, it can be hard to think of others further away – let alone help them.

Sometimes it seems there is no end in sight to the challenges.

First COVID-19, then …

locust

LOCUSTS

Last week, the LWF front-line team in South Sudan told us of a huge plague of desert locusts approaching Magwi County – where you work through ALWS.

These hungry monsters eat their own weight in food per day. (Just like teenage boys.)

Already, 60% of the crops due for harvest next month are destroyed.

These crops are people’s prime food and income supply.

Without help, people are in danger from hunger.

On your behalf, ALWS has said yes, we will help our faraway neighbour.

It will be hard. So the plan is to work with other churches from around the world. I will give you more details as soon as I can. (You can give an emergency donation now.)

 

FLOODS

You might not see it on the news, but monsoon rains in Nepal have killed 150 people, with 57 people still missing.

The areas where you work through ALWS have been badly hit.

In Kailali District alone, 6,455 families are in danger. For many, the only place safe from the floodwaters has been on road embankments.

COVID-19. Locust plague. Flood.

You may wonder how there can
be a HOPE Spot in any of this?

It seems our world (our neighbour) faces disaster after disaster (paver after paver).

You and I are tired (untied shoe-laces).

It can feel like we have given all we can, done more than anyone could possibly expect.

So how can we keep helping when it’s so hard?

What I learned from my neighbour and his pavers is:

  • It’s fine to take a rest. (Me between barrow-loads.)
  • Others can join us to help. (My teenage-muscled son.)
  • We encourage each other. (Arm punch.)

That’s why I want you to look carefully at the photo below from the flood disaster in Nepal…

See the banner on the back of the truck?

And the logos at the bottom?

There’s ALWS.

There’s you.

Your past kindness means the LWF team you support can go direct to the 1,505 people most in danger …

… and give your life-saving support:

  • 750kg rice
  • 75kg pulses
  • 15 litres mustard oil
  • 15 kg salt
  • 30kg sugar
  • 1,080 litres fresh water
  • biscuits for children
  • 120 sets of tarpaulins and ropes for temporary shelters

Yes, there is more we must do together – emergency donate here

… yet today people are safe and fed and dry because of what you do through ALWS.

People who might otherwise be forgotten in the flurry of COVID-19 now have HOPE.

And that means, so can we.

So, today’s HOPE Spot for COVID-19 is not about COVID-19 at all …

… but simply about you.

And how you help your neighbour.

Even when it’s hard.

Now, as I slip on my Ugg Boots (no laces that need tying), I’ll open the wine my neighbour gave me in thanks …

… and because I can’t offer you a glass

… I hope it’s OK if – on behalf of the people you help – I simply say thank you:

Thank you!

Jonathan

Last two photos: LWF Nepal


HOPE Spot #23: 24 July 2020

Fred was a very sneaky badminton player.

He’d get a glint in his eye behind his sweat-fogged glasses and put the shuttle-cock exactly where you didn’t want him to put it.

Every time.

For the 5 years I worked with Fred in the centre of Melbourne in the early 90s, badminton was the Friday lunchtime de-stress ritual of the Creative Department.

Fred died last week.

Aged 89.

A victim of COVID-19.

When a mate told me, it brought me to a stop.

Suddenly those reports each day of someone in their 80s or 90s dying from COVID had a name. A face. A family.

A His Story.

Fred’s story was shared in a tribute his son wrote, listing some of Fred’s achievements over his lifetime. His extraordinary gifts to the world included taking God’s Word into Afghanistan, helping bring Billy Graham to Australia, serving the poor in his career for more than 30 years, loving his children.

Just as each victim of COVID-19 has a history …

… so does each person you help through ALWS.

The people whose lives you touch aren’t just statistics in a report, or clients in a program.

They are mums and dads. They have people who love them. They are blessed with gifts, and inspired by dreams. They sweat and hug and joke and love and cry and hope.

Your kindness brings you into their lives.

Your generosity means you sit with them wherever they may be.

Your help is hands-on, even when it’s mask-on too.

In my previous HOPE Spot 10 days ago, I invited people to share messages of encouragement to the people of Melbourne.

You’ll find them here in this simple inspiring e-Picture Book.

I pray this will encourage you wherever you are, and however COVID-19 affects you right now.

Vale Fred.

Jonathan

PS: If you’re waiting for your ALWS Annual Donation statement for FY 19/20, they were mailed last Thursday – it’s up to Australia Post now 😊


HOPE Spot #22: 10 July 2020

Community Action Manager Jonathan has a message about the burdens we bear – and those you help carry. 

The news out of Melbourne with the 6 week lockdown is hard, isn’t it?

Talking to friends and family, I could hear how flattened they feel.

When hope is snatched away, it’s doubly hard.  

That’s why today I thought 15 month old Hazel might lift spirits a little.

You might recall Hazel is toddling her Walk My Way.

It’s taken many weeks but Hazel has just one kilometre to go to complete her 26 kilometre walk.

Hazel has raised enough money
to support 138 refugee children
through ALWS to go to school!

(You can still support Hazel here or enjoy watching her toddle in a fun 2 minute video here.)

You and I know Hazel couldn’t do this on her own.

She needed mum and dad alongside her.

To guide her, protect her from danger, supply food to keep her going, pick her up when she stumbled, comfort her when she was tired, be ready for emergency nappy change when necessary 😊

Encouragement. Support. Protection.

Knowing you’re not on your own.

This is what you do for the people you help through ALWS.

Like 6 year old Akech, who I met at Kakuma Refugee Camp just days after she arrived with her mum and little brother from South Sudan. Akech told me:

“I came here with my mother and my uncle. My father was killed in the violence. My mother was beaten.

I am always thinking about my father who was killed.

We ran away to Kenya. We come for safety, and also for food. We were two days on foot. We were very tired. I was frightened.

Then the UN pick us up. I felt good when we get here. We get beans and maize here.

I am in Class One at school. My favourite subject is writing. I like collecting water, and I like playing.

I want to be a teacher.”

You can see Akech here with little brother Lang.

What you can’t see are Lang’s feet.

I didn’t notice them at first, then saw this…

Who knows where they found that shoe.

Or how it stays on.

But you can see how precious this scrap is.

When I think about Akech, and how she piggy-backed little Lang to safety, I hear that old song by the Hollies He ain’t heavy … he’s my brother (listen here)

Love gives us strength to carry all kinds of burdens.

Yet, even better is when someone helps us carry that burden.

Last night I watched our church’s on-line COVID-19 service (Seaford Lutheran). The Gospel from Sunday had this verse from Matthew 11:28 where Jesus promises:

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens,
come to me and I will give you rest.”

Through ALWS, you make the same promise to refugees like Akech.

You welcome them at the Reception Centre. Make sure there is food. A place to sleep. Clean toilets. Soap and water to protect against COVID-19.

I know that helping carry the burdens of others can be hard work.

It takes courage to give up your own comfort.

Generosity to give.

Thank you for being the kind of person who humbly does exactly that.

Now, as the people of Melbourne carry the burden for Australia of going into lockdown against COVID-19 …

… I pray all of us can be inspired by little Hazel. Draw strength from refugee Akech. Take confidence knowing we don’t have to be alone, as step by step we journey together to walk this way.

Jonathan

Messages for Melbourne

Would you like to send a message to the people of Melbourne? An encouraging Bible verse. A personal thought. A little prayer. Even a photo that lifts spirits. Simply email us. We’ll put them all together in an e-Book, and share it so people in Melbourne know they’re not alone in the burden they carry now.

 


HOPE Spot #21: 3 June 2020

Community Action Manager Jonathan talks about what draw us together, even when we’re apart…

These new COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria have left me feeling flat.

I have two children in Melbourne, and it’s horrible not knowing when I will see Glen and Alli face-to-face again.

They feel so far away.

Yet, I think of the people in refugee camps you help through ALWS.

They had to leave everything behind. They don’t know when – or even if – they will ever be able to go home.

Now, with COVID-19, they live where the threat is most dangerous.

Crowded conditions. Little clean water. Only basic sanitation and health-care.

How frightening must that be?

That’s why today I want to share two drawings with you, created by children on opposite sides of the world, living through this time of fear and confusion.

You have touched the lives of both
these child artists through ALWS.

This poster was created by a Grade 3/4 student at Faith Lutheran College in the Barossa Valley. The school, along with Lutheran schools right around Australia, are finding ways to Walk your Way to help refugee children go to school.

Already more than 4,000 children have been supported!

Where do you think this poster was created?

When you see the paved road, and the shiny car, and the flourishing trees, you might think it’s a scene drawn by a child in Australia.

But you’d be wrong.

HINT: Look at the four coloured objects underneath the car, alongside the girl. These are rubbish bins, designed for recycling.

These bins for ‘wastage’ are part of the better life 13 year old Kristina, a Bhutanese refugee in Nepal, dreams …

“This picture is my dream camp. All the place is clean and tidy. The basic amenities are also well managed and properly used by the people.

The camps are not that much clean because of the wastage inside the camps. I would like to teach people through my picture so they can make clean of their house and camp.

I also want to make people aware why they have to manage lights in the roads inside the camps and on the edges. This will help girls and women like me to be safe while moving around at the evening and early morning.

We are at the edge of forest so we also need to be careful about possible attack from the wildlife. Good lighting can protect us more.”

13 year old Kristina aiming to improve life in the refugee camp where she must live …

… and that Grade 3/4 child in the Barossa Valley, fired up to help refugees

… are drawn together by your generosity through ALWS.

You inspire action in Australia that results in practical support – including COVID-19 protection – to people in camps in Nepal, Somalia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Kenya.

You especially support refugee children to go to school. See more here

Today, I simply thank you for your generosity and commitment – for thinking of others when it would be so easy as we miss our loved ones, to only think of ourselves. Thank you!

Jonathan

PS: I hope you are doing OK through COVID-19. I know how tough it is to be separated from the people we love. If you need a chat, feel free to give ALWS  a call on 1300 763 407, or simply email me. Thank you!

Photo of Kristina: LWF Nepal


HOPE Spot #20: 26 June 2020

Community Action Manager Jonathan Krause feels a little sheepish…

Last time I was in Africa I did something very silly.

I was thinking about a School Chapel presentation based on Matthew 25*, talking about the Sheep and Goats in how we serve the poor.

There are lots of sheep and goats in Africa.

Trouble is they look alike.

I got out of the 4WD to take a photo of what I thought was a sheep.

Turns out it was a goat.

(My colleagues had fun pointing at me and saying it was not the only goat. Silly Billy?)

The only difference I can tell between sheep and goats is that on sheep the tail hangs down, and on goats it sticks up.

That put s a whole new perspective on Jesus’ story of Sheep and Goats, doesn’t it? (A thought I plan to use for a video message for my church for 20 July.)

As you can see below, goats are part of your ALWS COVID-19 action in South Sudan …

Goats live on scraps, breed well, and produce milk and meat. So they are a great way for you to help families left in trouble by the impact of COVID-19 and poverty. (Already 256 goats have been provided to 128 families in Twic East.)

Alongside this, of course, is getting COVID-19 safety messages out to the community. A quick efficient way is using radio broadcasts …

Then, you bring together key leaders in the community, and train them, so they can take the COVID-19 health messages out to the community.

Training starts outside, washing hands …

… like here in Magwi, on the border with Uganda, where our ALWS family is supporting 5,667 refugees to return home.

(A 9:1 Matching Grant means it costs just $18 to help one person, with flow-on benefits to another 20 people. Donate before 30 June to claim your tax benefit this financial year.)

The front-line LWF team you support in South Sudan through ALWS uses a range of community buildings to meet people for training in COVID-19 …

… and other work (teaching farmers new skills, supporting women to start businesses, building peace)

… to help people rebuild their lives after they lost so much to conflict, drought and flood.

 

Come with me now so you can see
for yourself where you are working …

 

 

This building in Duk County looks to me like a church. (You can expect Sunday service to last a loud joyful dancing 3 hours as people feel they have so much to praise God for!)

 

 

Your team also uses school classrooms, like this session for teen girls in Maban …

 

 

… while sometimes, with COVID-19, it is better for training to happen outside with plenty of room for social distancing, like this session for young people

 

 

… or simply in community halls (again in Magwi, where you support refugees as they come home – 9:1 Matching Grant)

 

 

… or with full-time medical students working with Camp Leaders in Ajuong

 

 

… or at Secondary Schools, where teachers are briefed on distributing Home Learning Packages so students can keep up with their education

This is your work through ALWS. Thank you!

 

Going back to Jesus and the Sheep and the Goats …

… and thinking about what you do through ALWS

… I hope these photos inspire you as you see your kindness supporting so many ‘sheep’ to work in South Sudan!  (No need to be ‘sheepish’ – you are a ‘sheep’ too!)

Jonathan

Reminder: You can still help 9:1 for South Sudan – donate before 5pm (AEST) Tuesday 30 June to claim your tax benefit this financial year. Thank you!

 

* Matthew 25:34-40 (The Message)

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

 

All photos except first one: LWF South Sudan


HOPE Spot #19: 19 June 2020

jonathan krause

Community Action Manager Jonathan Krause reflects on shearing sheds, soap and smiles…

When I was a kid on my grandparents’ farm, it seemed the most fun came when you got most grubby.

Building forts. Crawling under the shearing shed. Playing frisbees with dried cow-pats.

Trouble is, come sunset, we weren’t allowed inside for tea until we were scrubbed clean.

That’s when mum produced the SOLVOL soap.

Do you know it? It’s super gritty, and as a kid I thought it took off as much skin as it did dirt.

The other brand soap I remember is LIFEBUOY.

I don’t know if you can still buy LIFEBUOY in Australia these days …

… but it’s the antibacterial soap your ALWS-supported team in Indonesia is supplying to the families you serve

… along with face-masks…

… and lessons in proper hand-washing

… all delivered with the kind of friendly smile that tells you that even though you are poor, you are important …

… and though you may be far away, people care enough about you to come close and make sure you are safe.

That’s why this LIFEBUOY soap – supplied by you with the 10:1 Australian Government Grant – couldn’t be better named.

Your soap is a lifesaver for people
in danger from COVID-19.

You’re a lifesaver in Somalia too – where supplying soap calls for courage and commitment.

The Australian Government bans Aussies from going into Somalia because of the danger from terror attacks that target aid workers. The people needing your help live inside Camps for Internally Displaced People. The Muslim community you go to has suffered conflict and poverty for far too long.

Yet here you are, finding a way to make sure those most in need don’t miss out:

Somalia, Indonesia … Cambodia and Nepal too – all these are countries where your kindness through the 10:1 Australian Government Grant makes you a lifebuoy of hope in a sea of troubles.

Thank you for getting grubby to help others stay clean and safe!

Jonathan

PS: I hope you can see the smiles behind the face-masks!

 


HOPE Spot #18: 12 June 2020

Over the last couple of months we’ve seen  Australian businesses adapt to COVID-19 …

… breweries making hand-sanitiser

… restaurants doing take-aways

… manufacturers making masks.

This week is Refugee Week so we thought you might be interested to know exactly the same thing is happening in refugee camps where you help people through ALWS.

First stop today is Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya,  ‘home’ to 217,000 people. Then we’ll head to Nepal to meet an inspiring Bhutanese refugee lady.

 

Tinkering with Tailors

The refugees you help at Dadaab have fled conflict and famine in Somalia.

One of the key things you do through ALWS is train people as tailors, helping them gain the skills and build the confidence to start their own businesses. 

During COVID, instead of beautiful dresses, shirts and school uniforms, the tailors you train are producing face-masks – 300,000 of them!

Line up the 300,000 masks in a row – it would be 60 kms long!

Already, 53,000 have been produced and distributed to front-line workers, the local host community and to the refugees.

As you can see from the photo below, it’s a production line AND a partnership – a partnership that starts with YOU. Thank you!

Lifeline and Life-saver

When Australian businesses had to close during our COVID-19 lockdown, the Australian Government stepped in to support people with JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

For Ms. Bimaya Rai, a Bhutanese lady now living in a refugee camp in Nepal, support was harder to find. Before COVID-19 hit, she owned a Tailoring Centre in the camp. As well as providing for her own family, Bimaya’s Centre employed six other refugee women.

The future looked bleak until the ladies came up with the idea of sewing face masks!

Through ALWS, you provided the materials – the ladies the sewing skills. More than 3,000 masks have already been produced. These are used by refugees, the local host community, construction workers and volunteers inside the camp, and even sold at local markets.

Bimaya told the LWF team you support inside the camp:

“We were in dilemma about how to manage the household expense
for the prolonged lockdown situation.

The idea of managing the existing tailoring centre
became a lifeline for all of us seven families in the camps.

Before, so many people who were not able to find a mask
can now get it at the camps and are protecting themselves
from the possible infection.

I feel proud for this contribution.

The refugee camps itself are very prone
for the possible spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
We are contributing for the protection of the people at the camps
as well as making money for our family.

I suppose my business is making dual benefit –
to the community as well as to my family.”

This COVID-19 work of yours with Bimaya in the Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal is supported by the Australian Government 10:1 Grant.

Thank you for everything you do for others through ALWS.

If anyone ever asks you ‘So what difference do you make to refugees?’, now you’ve got the answer all stitched up …

Sew what?

303,000 face masks
to keep refugees safe
from COVID-19!

PS: You might also enjoy this 4 minute video showing the Lutheran Community Sewing Group in Adelaide teaching former refugees how to sew as they make new friends. Warning: Tissues essential!

Photo 1 and 2: LWF Kenya / Djibouti, Photo 3: LWF Nepal


HOPE Spot #17: 5 June 2020

Yesterday Jonathan had to help do a little video.

It’s for an online Chapel for a Lutheran School doing Walk My Way.*

He got a pair of his son’s smelliest thongs (think chook-yard / mud / teenager) …

… and shared how the refugee children you help go to school through ALWS often arrive barefoot

… having walked for weeks through stones and scorpions and snakes

… (not to mention attacks by bandits and rebels and wild animals).

One of the first things you do for these refugee children is provide what they call ‘slippers’ and you and I call ‘thongs’.

That led Jonathan to share with the students how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Those feet would have been filthy, sweaty, stinking, plastered with donkey poo …

Yet Jesus got down on his hands and knees and washed those feet.

Then called on us to do the same.

And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet,
you should do the same for each other.

I have set the example,
and you should do for each other
exactly what I have done for you.”

John 13:14, 15 (CEV)

 

What do you think about that?

While COVID-19 means we need to wash our hands clean, at the same time we need to get our hands dirty! That’s what you do through ALWS…

The dirty work – ‘slippers’ for battered feet, food for hungry bellies, toilets for protecting against disease.

The difficult work – caring for people with disability in communities that have never before regarded such people as precious and important.

 The dangerous work – in places like war-torn South Sudan where ALWS has secured a new 9:1 Grant to help returning refugees ($18 per person).

Sometimes that dirty, difficult, dangerous work can leave you feeling worn-out and weary.

That’s why today we take you to Nepal to meet a young mum keeping her family safe because of the 10:1 COVID-19 help you give.

Ambika will inspire you:

“I was hearing the radio message
for the frequent hand washing. 

However there was no soaps in my house
due to the lockdown situation,
and no income source to me
to bring to my family.

I was so happy to see the 4 pieces of soap
for me in the relief package …

… I heard that the soaps
were managed by the Lutheran
which has been supporting for us
for our income generation.

I would like to thank to the Lutheran team
and local government
for this support to me.”

That’s YOU Ambika is thanking!

Not just for the soap … also the ‘radio message’ … also the ‘income generation’ … and also what you see in the back right of the photo – a Lutheran Long Drop Loo!

When we look at Ambika washing her hands…

… we may think of Pilate when he washed his hands of Jesus, allowing him to be taken away and murdered.

Right now, it seems we are living in a time of chaos and confusion, hate and hurt.

As the world’s eyes turn to the horrors happening in the United States,  we thank God that people like you continue to watch out for people in the world’s poorest countries.

You have the vision to see the people still in great danger from COVID-19, still threatened every day by poverty and injustice, still forced from their homes to flee as refugees.

 

You DON’T wash your hands of people like Ambika …

… instead you get your hands dirty

… and ‘wash feet’ with your humble acts of service.

What a blessing is your kindness – thank you!

 

* You can watch Jonathan’s message for online chapel at the Lutheran School in the 6 minute video here


HOPE Spot #16: 2 June 2020

When you help people through ALWS, you spend a lot of time in 4WDs …

 … that’s because you go where people need you most, and it can often be tough work getting there!

Here you are reaching out to South Sudanese refugees in LWF-supported camps in northern Uganda. With you, on the loudspeaker, is Bishop Reverend Emmanuel Murye.

The message?

How refugees can best protect themselves against COVID-19 inside the crowded camps.

People here have suffered so much already, lost everything … how terrible if they were forgotten by the world at this time of COVID-19.

 

GOOD NEWS!

Many South Sudanese refugees now feel it is safe to return home …

 … and you can be there to meet them to help them start a fresh new life!

ALWS has secured a new 9:1 Grant with German aid agency Brot fur die Welt, kicking off on 1 July 2020 for two years!

Working through our partner LWF, our aim together is to help 5,667 refugees build a safe, secure and sustainable life back home in Magwi County in South Sudan.

What’s exciting is the 9:1 Grant means you can help one person like Ayen for just $18!

 

Starving and scared … to restaurant-owner!

You might not realise just what a difference you make in people’s lives through ALWS, but read Ayen’s story and you’ll see how important you are:

BEFORE YOUR ALWS HELP

“I was taken out of school by my parents when I was 14 to care for the cattle in the bush camps.  This meant I did not know the importance of education.

Remembering these days makes me feel very sad. Sometimes we would hear the guns.  We would run away to hide and then come back.  It was frightening for the children, especially to see people being killed. It is hard to see your young children starving.”

YOUR ALWS HELP

“I had been dreaming if I could start some sort of business.  When a woman told me about the LWF training for cooking, I was very excited. I learned how to make soup, meat stews, fried meat, zambuzza, mudazzi, chappati – even a wedding cake!”

AFTER YOUR ALWS HELP

“I was so excited I wanted to start my business straight away! I collected firewood and saved the money to buy a bag of sugar.  Then I started making tea to sell.  After a short time, I had money to get ingredients to cook some food.

What encouraged me was that people would come and eat and then bring others back. I started small, but then it was growing.  Now I have a restaurant and hired four women to help me in the business!

I feel so happy with the knowledge I have from this training. And I feel happy I OWN something.  I have food for my children. I can pay their school fees, and I encourage them to complete school. Thank you for upgrading my life.” 

 

Ayen x 5,667 = what we can do now!

The 9:1 Grant is a blessing because it means for just $18 per person – DONATE NOW you can help deliver everything you see here in our 4 Step Action Plan:

 

1.  EDUCATION – support children to go to school, in secure classrooms, with schoolbooks, and trained teachers 

2.  WATER – hygiene at school (protection against COVID-19), clean water at the Health Centre, farmers’ irrigation 

3.  LIVELIHOODS – you teach people skills so they can build a business and support their children at school

 4.  PEACE – South Sudan suffered horribly through conflict, now it’s time for repentance, forgiveness and healing

 

We’ve put together an e-Book of more stories just like Ayen’s – enjoy now – so you can see with your own eyes how you step into the lives of people forgotten by the world …

… and support them through ALWS to build a fresh new life.

This is why you jump onto 4WDs and head out on rocky roads into places like South Sudan – to meet people at the time they need you most …

… and if someone like Ayen offers you a plate of fire-grilled chicken and mudazza, enjoy it, because this gift for your tummy is a gift of thanks from the heart!

First photo in post: K. Logi / LWF


HOPE Spot #15: 29 May 2020

No talking from us today.

Instead, let us introduce you to Tita Sipau, part of the team in PNG raising awareness about COVID-19 to people living with disability. 

Once you’ve had a chat with Tita, and heard the amazing way he plans to raise money to build a home for his family, plus his bag of groceries … 

… you’ll meet Melany, who has a smile you’ll never forget!

“My name is Tita. I am physically impaired and depend on my wheelchair for mobility.

I was an active member of the disability self-help group in my village until my wife found a job in Lae as a housekeeper. The idea of being separated from my wife and children was not possible because I depend highly on them, and so we all moved to Lae to be close together.

I was unemployed and until now depended mostly on my wife for financial support.

In Lae, I became an active member of the Morobe Disabled Agency and was picked by the PNG Red Cross team to do COVID-19 awareness-raising.

My family and I were given a space at the disabled homes where we live in the open space in a tent and share a common room with four other families.

Life here is challenging and often difficult.

“There is no privacy and often no peace at all.”

Water is a problem and we must depend on water from the well to do laundry, cooking and bathing.

Hygiene is also a problem, but if I leave this place, where will I go?

It is difficult for such people like me with family to live with wantoks (relatives) in Lae.

Since hygiene was a concern, I really wanted to be part of this COVID-19 awareness team for people with disabilities, so I can learn and teach other people like me to practice hygiene.

I have learnt a lot.

My attitude towards cleanliness and hygiene is changing and so is my family because I keep on reminding them every day! I hope to take a trip back to my village and carry out awareness on hygiene practices in our self-help group.

My dream is to build my own house so my family and I can have our individual rooms with proper shower and toilet, without sharing common space with other people with no privacy.

I am saving the meal money
I receive from the Lutheran Church program
for the work I do on COVID-19 awareness.

I will use this to buy a small refrigerator
so I can store drinks and sell them
to raise funds to build my dream home.

If I was the president of the Morobe Disabled Agency, I would lead life skills training and awareness for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Then we all can raise up and do our own things without depending on other people for support.

I will advocate for the rights of people like me for better shelter, education and employment.

I want to thank the Lutheran Church program and ALWS for this experience. There are some things I learned which I didn’t expect and will not learn if I was not part of this COVID-19 awareness team. I will follow and support this work wherever it goes from here.

You put a smile on my family’s faces every time I go home with a shopping bag full of groceries.”

 

Tita’s family are not the only ones with smiles.

Meet Melany, from the Benong Parish Disability Group. When she received a COVID-19 Hygiene Pack, she thanked the team by saying …

mi hamamas”

 … “I am happy” in tok pisin!

 PSST: Take a look at who is sitting in the background – Tita!

Already the COVID-19 Awareness team supported from Australia has reached 576 people. This awareness is protecting lives PLUS bringing happiness to people like Melany!

You are part of this through ALWS, supporting the Lutheran Church work to implement the Australian Government-funded program.

Tenkyu Tenkyu tru Tenkyu tumas!


HOPE Spot #14: 27 May 2020

OK, so it looks like no one will be heading off overseas any time soon.

Instead, let us take you on a quick trip to four of the most fascinating countries in our region of the world.

You won’t need a passport, or needles, or quarantine exemption …

… because you are already there, through ALWS, helping protect people threatened by COVID-19.

 

First stop is NEPAL – to Morang, in the east, bordering India.

Sorry about the bumpy ride on the back of the ute …

… but don’t worry, it’s not your luggage your LWF team is unloading.

In fact, this is equipment you helped supply for the medical centre at Morang:

  • one X-ray machine
  • two electronic suction machines
  • one Oxygen concentrator machine
  • Personal Protection Equipment
  • N95 and Surgical Masks.

This life-saving medical equipment was handed to the Honorable Minister for Social Development, Mr Jiban Ghimire by Pastor Joseph Soren of Lutheran Community Welfare Society, our LWF partner.

The Minister noted as he thanked your team:

“We always respect the international donors and their support for our priority and humanitarian and development initiatives …We are planning to establish more quarantine centres for migrant workers as they come to the country before they move for their village.  I really appreciate that the medical items provided are from the list that has been shared.”

This medical equipment helps people alongside your other COVID-19 protection activities in Nepal, which are supported by the Australian Government 10:1 Grant:

  • health messages in local language on radio
  • posters in strategic public places
  • food and sanitation for quarantine centres
  • food for migrant workers returning from India
  • water, sanitation and hygiene items to vulnerable families
  • food for Bhutanese refugees
  • psychosocial support for those most in danger.

 

Now, it’s time to head to CAMBODIA, 4,000 kms south east.

Because flights are out, I asked Google Maps how long it would take to walk.

No answer yet – it seems there are some rather large ‘hills’ in the way!

Here in Cambodia, your 10:1 Grant work is helping protect people in:

  • Battambang
  • Kampong Chnnang
  • Kampong Speu
  • and Pursat Provinces.

Already you have distributed:

  • 19,000 posters on preventing COVID-19
  • 19,000 posters on proper hand-washing
  • 450 litres of cleaning alcohol
  • 94 boxes of masks
  • 739 boxes of gloves
  • 206 bottles of hand-sanitiser
  • 5,338 packets of soap

You also trained and equipped 334 community promoters to develop Action Plans for villages in 41 communes.

Your kindness protects 18,841 people.

After all that, you probably need a breather.

 

So let’s head down to INDONESIA.

While this billboard you helped erect tells you to ‘Stay at home’, I can assure you the people here welcome your COVID-19 support.

Through ALWS you have for many years supported training of Lutheran churches to support their communities through disaster risk reduction, and building livelihoods.

Now, during the time of COVID-19, churches have organised to distribute food to districts hit hard economically.

Due to the governmental shutdowns, many people have experienced reduced incomes, or lost their jobs completely.

The Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia (GKPI) developed a delivery service for the community to encourage people to stay at home while helping merchants make an income.

Meanwhile, the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP) gave 100 chickens to establish a chicken farm to increase family income.

A fish pond was stocked with 2000 tilapia fish as a means of income for families in need.

 

After all that eggcitement, it’s time to head to PNG …

… to see Aussie goggles and gum-boots at work.

Here in PNG, ALWS provides expertise and energy to help the PNG Lutheran Church implement the programs the Australian Government generously supports (more than $1 million each year!)

The COVID-19 crisis has forced the church to pivot activities to protect lives.

The focus is on people in rural areas including and surrounding Lae, Finschaffen, Nawae, Markham and Menyama Tewai-Siassi. The innovative work includes:

  • 12 day campaign reaching 576 people with disability (see photo of the Awareness Team below)
  • 500 boxes of gloves and hygiene materials for 5 Lutheran Health rural hospitals
  • 600 sets of overalls, gum-boots and goggles for hospital workers
  • training for 18 Lutheran Health service staff
  • support for Lutheran Development Service to prepare two Seed Bank sheds to provide seedlings for backyard vegetable gardens
  • pastoral support through national newspapers
  • COVID-19 awareness sessions on ELCPNG Kristen radio 89.1 FM
  • 500 brochures, 1,000 posters, 3 public banners in Lae City.

Now it’s time to head for HOME – your bag packed with souvenir memories of all you do for people through ALWS …

… and while riding with hygiene materials in PNG might not be the most comfy way to travel, the fact you protect precious lives should make you feel FIRST CLASS!

 


HOPE  Spot #12:

Sometimes it feels our world is so broken …

… it seems there is no way it can ever be put back together again.

Right now, we think of COVID-19.

It feels like it’s shattered everything we took for granted.

(Though here in Australia we are blessed with resources, health-care and leadership to protect us just about better than any place on earth. Even footy’s coming back!)

Last Friday ALWS received an email from the team you support in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, caring for Rohinga refugees in the world’s largest refugee camp.

The Camp now has its first cases of COVID-19 – and people are scared.

Exactly one year ago Jonathan from ALWS visited Rohingya people forced to live in Displaced Persons Camps in Rakhine State in Myanmar.

He saw how wonderful the people are, how eager children are to learn …

… and also how dangerous a disease like COVID-19 could be when people live in crowded camps, with only basic sanitation, unreliable water supply, not enough food, and minimal health-care.

All that seems a world too broken for us to put back together.

Yet here at ALWS every day we see how acts of kindness from people like you can spark hope where all seemed lost.

A while back Jonathan wrote a little book – come to life – about trying to live as a Christian in this mixed-up falling-apart broken-down world.

Right now, ACR who sell the book have agreed to work with us to use come to life to help fight COVID-19.

Here’s how.

Simply buy the book for $20 … and $10 helps people threatened by COVID-19.

($10 covers printing and sale of book – Jonathan receive’s nothing, ACR gives a kind donation.)

The $10 that goes to ALWS supports the 10:1 COVID-19 campaign, so you actually support $100 worth of life-protecting action (PLUS you get the book!)

There are stories in come to life that show your kindness supporting people to put their world back together …

… proof that when we each do our bit, even in the hardest places hope can come to life.


HOPE Spot #11: 13 May 2020

Today we’re going to take you somewhere you can’t go.

Nor can we.

Nor can any Australian.

Somalia.

Even before COVID-19 stopped overseas travel, the Australian Government warned:

Do not travel to Somalia
due to the high risk
of terrorist attack, kidnapping,
armed conflict and violent crime.

Yet, through ALWS …

…  and supported by the Australian Government 10:1 Grant

… YOU are in Somalia right now!

The lady you see in the photo is a Community Education volunteer practicing social distancing to protect against COVID-19.

She is one of dozens of volunteers you train inside Internally Displaced Persons Camps in Kismayo in Jubaland in the south of Somalia.

This is where our Australian ALWS family supports 1,500 displaced children to go to school.

It’s dangerous work.

There is only a 15 kilometre wide safe zone. Terrorist group Al Shabaab is a constant threat. Just last July a hotel in Kismayo was bombed and 26 people killed.

Yet here you are, hands on, helping people.

 

Each child you support at school receives 600gms of soap, as you can see here.

They then take their soap, and COVID-19 training, back to their shelter in the Camp and teach their families how to protect themselves.

Of course, soap without clean water can’t protect against disease …

… so you also support our LWF team to provide an extra 57,900 litres of clean water for hygiene and sanitation for the 600 girls and 900 boys our ALWS family helps!

You’re welcome to keep using the 10:1 Grant to help children go to school and support this life-protecting ALWS COVID-19 work in Somalia …

… or simply smile, reach out, and join our special
Soaped-Up Social Distancing Somalia Samba!

Thank you for having the courage to be kind to people you don’t know, in places you can’t go … that’s how hope grows.


HOPE Spot #10: 8 May 2020

Surfing is the main reason Australians go to Mentawai Island in Indonesia. It has some of the best surfing waves in the world!

Through ALWS, you’re here not to surf … but to save lives.

In ‘normal’ times, you support our partner CDRM&CDS, working through local Lutheran churches, to help communities protect themselves from natural disasters (like the Boxing Day Tsunami).

Now, you are teaching people to protect themselves against the disaster of COVID-19.

Just last week you put up this Billboard in the centre of a local village …

… and in coming days will put up 250 more in Mentawai, Nias and Pakpak regions.

If you look closely, you can see your ALWS logo … along with the Australian Government logo, supporting your work here with a 10:1 Grant. Donate 10:1 now!

Billboards are just the start of your life-protecting work in Indonesia.

Field staff (using mask, physical distancing, and multiple hand-washings) go door-to-door to distribute 7,000 smaller posters to villagers.

The posters are printed in the 3 local languages used by most people – Mentawai, Nias and Bahasa.

Your Field Staff (using mask, physical distancing, and multiple hand-washings) teach what the posters outline.

Already 1,955 villagers have been reached:

  • 656 males
  • 556 females
  • 63 people with disability
  • 330 boys
  • 350 girls

After the villagers have been shown how to wash their hands properly,
and why, you support them with soap + plastic or bamboo water tanks …

You then support local village governments to create a COVID-19 Action Station:

  • a Team Member volunteers to lead village preparations:
    • check body temperature of people arriving from outside the village
    • spray disinfectant
    • register visitors
  • Provide disinfectant to spray public places:
    • village hall and office
    • churches and compound
    • local school
    • Health Post
    • Community Centre
  • Provide hand-washing kits:
    • plastic water tank
    • soap

All this is your work through ALWS, supported by the Australian Government 10:1 Grant.

You don’t have to be a surfer to want to go to this beautiful part of the world…

… you simply need to care about families struggling against poverty, disease and the threat of natural disaster.

That’s a wave of kindness we can all ride – thank you!

 


HOPE Spot #9: 6 May 2020

Take one minute right now to come into the refugee camp at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where you care for Rohingya refugees through ALWS.

This is the largest refugee camp in the world right now, and the threat of COVID-19 is terrifying. Through ALWS (working in a 11:1 partnership with the Czech Republic), you support:

  • local production of hand sanitiser
  • distribution to front-line health workers
  • distribution to refugees + local communities
  • livelihood support to people on lowest income

See for yourself the impact you make, by watching the 1-minute video below: 


HOPE Spot #8: 1 May 2020

BOM says it will be cold and wet in the Barossa Valley tomorrow morning.

Yet dozens of people will be pulling on blue Walk My Way T-shirts, social distancing, and walking up to 26 kilometres to help refugee children go to school.

While that’s amazing, that’s not the surprise. (Here at ALWS every day we see how wonderful people can be in their caring.)

YOUR DOUBLE SURPRISE

This week an ALWS supporter couple, with a teaching background in Lutheran schools, offered an amazing dollar for dollar ‘match’ for this w

eekend’s Walk My Way.

The offer runs for the 48 hours from midday Friday to midday Sunday … and is valued at $12,500 – enough to support 480 refugee children to g

o to school!

It costs $26 to support a refugee child in school for a year … but now, your donation of $26 can support TWO children. Simply click here to have your donation DOUBLED!

 

How is this a COVID-19 HOPE Spot?

This wonderful DOUBLE offer is a COVID-19 HOPE Spot because school is where refugee children learn why and how they must wash their hands properly!

That’s protection against diarrhoea, water-borne disease and COVID-19!

(PLUS, the children teach mum and dad too!)

Your DOUBLED donation will be a big encouragement to our brave Walk My Way walkers this weekend PLUS a lifetime blessing to the children you support go to school.

DOUBLE donate now


HOPE Spot #7: 29 April 2020

Today’s HOPE Spot is only 20 seconds long …

… and is brought to you by the kids at Calvary Kindy in SA (voices)

… and the children you help through ALWS (soapy hands and sunny smiles).

Enjoy – this life-protecting work is yours. Thank you!  


HOPE Spot #6: 24 April 2020

When you meet Ciza from Burundi – one of the five poorest countries in the world – and hear her story about COVID-19, you might wonder where hope can possibly be.

“I’m CIZA Anastasie, 28 years old, from Kabingo Colline, Gisuru Commune, Ruyigi province.

I already know about the disease and its symptoms like fever, cough, and physical pains.

I have so much fear.

I think that whenever it will reach here at the field, we would die massively because we are already vulnerable and our country is so far behind other countries worldwide where the covid-19 killed so many people.”

You can hear Ciza’s terror, can’t you?

The reason this is a HOPE Spot is because you are already working here in Burundi. You’ve taught her, and her community, how to wash hands properly.

See that FLM on the bicycle?

That stands for Federation Lutherienne Mondiale – French for Lutheran World Federation, our ALWS partner.

The two regions where you work through ALWS – Ruyigi and Cankuzo Provinces – are the poorest in Burundi. They border Tanzania, from where many Burundian refugees are being forced to return home.

People go into quarantine – but you can see the danger as people are crammed in together.

There can hardly be a place on earth where your kindness is needed more.

Mrs. Emelyne Ndakiriye, who you see here, is the LWF Manager in Cankuzo.

“There are many deaths as there is not enough infrastructure,  equipment, medicine or specialised health workers.

There is also not enough food for adequate nutrition, which means people have less strength to resist the coronavirus. 90% of people live from agriculture, but farming has had to stop.

There is no selling of harvest in order to cover other basic needs because markets are closed. Many products are imported and prices have increased, which people can’t afford.”

You can keep supporting ALWS COVID-19 action here.

Because of your kindness, people in Burundi are being taught to properly wash their hands. People do hear COVID-19 messages over the radio, and from loudspeakers on cars.

Most important, thanks to you, people know they are not forgotten.

When they see that FLM bicycle, they know someone cares enough about them to come to them and help them.

This is YOU. This is your work through ALWS. This is the HOPE Spot you create.

On behalf of Ciza, front-line staff like Emelyne, and every other person you help to hope – thank you!


HOPE Spot #5: 21 April 2020

You’ll be inspired to see what Samir, a refugee at Kakuma Refugee Camp is doing since COVID-19 has begun threatening the camp.

A young designer, he has started sewing face masks – 100 a day!

Samir readily admits his masks are not surgical quality – but aim simply to discourage people from touching their faces.

Samir sews the masks on a foot-powered treadle machine, and uses African fabrics of many different colours, each representing the different nations living in the camp.

(One of the many activities you support in Kakuma Camp through ALWS is teaching sewing skills so people like Samir can set up their own tailoring businesses.)

Sewing doesn’t stop at Kakuma though.

Each Friday morning (in non-COVID times), the Lutheran Community Sewing Group in Adelaide welcomes former refugees, now our new neighbours, and teaches them how to sew – while making new friends and having fun!

There are 37 ladies on the books, and another 5 waiting for a sewing machine to become available. The ladies come from Iran, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, South Sudan, India, Iraq and Eritrea.

Mai, (on the left), fled war in Liberia to a refugee camp in Guinea. She recalls:

“It was terrible at the  war. We ran away with nothing.

 It was strange arriving in Australia. If you don’t speak good English, it is very hard to get a job.

Back in Liberia, I had a business. I could buy and sell. But here in Australia you need much more to start a business.

 I came to Sewing Group with a friend. Everyone here is lovely and welcomes me.”

Helen Semmler, (on right), played a key role in starting the group in 2002. She says:

“I love seeing the women go forward. They often come to us quite traumatised, or with very low self-esteem because they come from cultures that don’t value women.

We take a photo of even the smallest item a lady makes – even just a pin-cushion. We all stop and clap because we want to affirm the progress people are making.”

 

The Sewing Group could not happen without the support of volunteers – like this group from the Barossa Valley, an hour’s drive away!

In total there are 17 volunteer teachers, three more volunteers in the kitchen, four in the creche for 12+ children, plus four drivers …

… and all these volunteers have had a big job this year supporting the Sewing Group to sew 800 African Carry Bags for Walk My Way – now Walk YOUR Way (because of COVID-19).

Why the ‘carry’ on?

The Carry Bags are a simple way to say thank you to Walkers like Maya, who walk 26 kilometres to raise money to help refugee children at Kakuma go to school. (Each $26 raised supports one child – donate here.)

Maya lives in Melbourne but comes from Perth – so just before the WA borders closed, she flew home to be with her family during lockdown. 

Maya did her Walk over the weekend, and explains why she walked:

“Freedom – just what the refugees I’m fundraising for also crave.

 My ALWS ‘Walk My Way’ was extra special because I finally had the freedom to leave the house after 14 days of self-isolation/quarantine!

 I couldn’t wait to go for a walk further than the front lawn! And to be able to do it all for a great cause made it all the sweeter!”

Sew what next?

Watch a 4 minute video of the Sewing Group here (you’ll need tissues).

Register or donate for Walk your Way here (each $26 helps a child go to school).

Use 10:1 Government Grant to multiply 10 TIMES your ALWS COVID-19 action here.

What a blessing it is that despite the challenges, of COVID-19, all of us can find a way to work together to help people hold onto hope!


HOPE Spot #4: 14 April 2020

Jump aboard!

This ute is taking supplies to set up a Quarantine Room for COVID-19 patients to a hospital in Jhapa, on the Nepal border with India.

As part of the ALWS family, you helped load this ute – thank you!

We’ll show you more below, but first we have GOOD NEWS for you …

… the Australian Government has approved ALWS for a 10:1 Grant to fight COVID-19 in our projects in Nepal, Cambodia and Indonesia!

DONATE HERE so your help is MULTIPLIED 10 TIMES!

ALWS has already kick-started your COVID-19 action … which is why the ute is on its way! Your kindness (multiplied 10 TIMES) helps supply:

  • 20 plywood beds
  • 20 mattresses
  • 20 sets of bed sheets
  • 20 pillows
  • 20 woollen blankets
  • 20 mosquito nets
  • 20 dustbins (1 per bed)
  • 20 pairs of slippers
  • 20 sets of plates and glasses for kitchen at the quarantines
  • 400 pieces of soaps (for quarantine only)

You can see the supplies being handed over here …

 

… and below is one of the 20 quarantine beds you supply:

 

No, there’s not a lot of comfort – but before your help, there was not even this!

See the ‘ALWS’ marked on the bed-frame?

This is part of the accountability process, to make sure your help can be monitored all the way through … so you can always trust your donation ‘gets there’!

DONATE 10:1 NOW

Your 10:1 donation also cleans up!

Soap for proper handwashing is critical – not just at the Quarantine Room, but for families living in threatened areas…

… so your ute also delivered 2,000 bars of soap – enough for 500 families!

ALWS is very grateful to the Australian Government for supporting our COVID-19 action in Nepal, Cambodia and Indonesia … and for the 10:1 Grant that multiplies your help 10 TIMES!

This (bea)uteful way of helping people in danger from COVID-19 is your HOPE Spot for today! Thank you!

DONATE 10:1 NOW

As we take this very different Easter into our daily lives, we leave you with some words we hope will encourage you:

When I am hurting, I will find comfort in your promise that leads to life.

Psalm 119:50


HOPE Spot #3: 9 April 2020

Come to South Sudan and share in the joy your kindness brings, and see how your handwashing lessons for families are saving lives!

Check out this amazing ‘tap dance’ …

 

Simply push the stick down with your foot … and the string tugs down the jerry-can … and you are hands-free to wash with soap!

You’re protected from COVID-19, and other diseases that threaten when you live in poverty and only have basic sanitation, like this toilet:

 

Despite the challenges the people of South Sudan face, their faith is strong. Below you see a local tukul decorated to celebrate Easter:

 

Girma Gudina heads up the LWF team you support in South Sudan.

He shared with us the challenge of fighting COVID-19 here:

“God is there, everywhere, as always … I hold on to hope by keeping trust in the unfailing love of God, and doing the best I can in the circumstances. Even in difficult times, I believe God has a plan for us, plans for hope and a future.”

As we celebrate the victory of Easter, we leave you with the verse our partner LWF has chosen for their 5 year strategic plan. May this be your HOPE Spot too:

I will bless you with a future filled with hope – a future of success, not of suffering.

Jeremiah 29:11 (CEV)


HOPE Spot #2: 7 April 2020

You don’t know Phatima.

You will never visit the remote village in Nepal where she lives with 31 families.

Yet life is safer here because of a message from the front-line LWF team you support through ALWS. The message explained the dangers of COVID-19, and how Phatima’s community could protect itself.

You deserve to know how much Phatima valued this care and concern:

“I feel some emotion when I receive this message.

“We feel great that Lutheran has expressed their concern about us and our safety.

“We also hear the message through FM radio in Santhali language. This has better impact in the society for those who do not understand Nepali language.

“Before, we were in a dilemma about the rumour and also the fake news spread all over the village about the consequences of COVID-19.

“Now, we are hopeful that Lutheran is with us for our support, and to give us authentic information, and help us to prepare against the risk.

“We are practising the social distance, frequent hand-washing, covering the nose and mouth with elbow while sneezing.

“There are 31 families in my village, and some of them cannot read. I have asked them to get support from their school-going children. Our children catch the message easily, and they tell us if we are not following the instructions properly!”

As Australia works to protect ourselves from COVID-19, we hope you can feel a sense of joy knowing your generosity keeps on working hard in places like Phatima’s village.

While we have a wonderful health system, good education and quick access to care – people in poor communities like Phatima’s don’t. So it’s vital we are quick and creative in how we work to protect them from COVID-19.

So, as well as messages to community leaders like Phatima’s, through ALWS you also provide posters like this one …

 … and radio messaging in Nepali, Tharu, Doteli and Santhali.

You also support front-line teams with masks, surgical gloves and goggles to protect them while they distribute soap, and provide handwashing lessons, to local communities.

Your kindness through ALWS brings love to life for people who might otherwise be forgotten.

Your generosity helps make sure no one is left behind. Thank you!


HOPE Spot #1: 3 April 2020

Image: LWF Kenya/ P. Kwamboka

Your kindness through ALWS changes children’s lives.

The children in the photo above are three of the 44,000+ refugee children supported to go to school by last year’s ALWS GRACE Project.

They live at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

The Kenyan Government has now closed down schools – including the 21 Primary Schools at Kakuma – to protect children against COVID-19.

Your HOPE Spot is that all these children have already learned the life-protecting power of washing hands properly.

They were taught this skill to protect against diarrhoea and other diseases that can easily spread in a refugee camp – but now it helps protect them against COVID-19 too!

PLUS, these 44,000+ children teach mums and dads how to wash their hands properly too! Hooray!