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

HOPE Spots!

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


HOPE Spot #56: Love amid the hate

Wednesday 20 December 

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

… really?

Despite what Bing Crosby, (and, more lately, Michael Buble) sing at you in every store you enter to do your Christmas shopping …

… when you look around the world right now, it seems as far from Christmas fun as it is possible to be.

The photo above shows Kharkiv in Ukraine two years ago. Look at Kharkiv today:

Photo: LWF Ukraine

This is the second Christmas the people of Ukraine face under attack from Russia.

Winter temperatures here drop to minus 5 degrees.

That’s why your ALWS action to support our LWF partner to renovate 525 apartments in Kharkiv before Christmas is so precious.

As you look forward to your Christmas, I bring you a message from deep inside Ukraine.

 

Photo: LWF

Pastor Oleksandr Gross serves the Lutheran Church in Odessa. He chose to stay behind amid the bombs, despite the fact that 60% of his congregation had fled, or been killed.

“We have stayed where, and to whom, the Lord has called us.”

“95% of the people we help do not share our confession, but we bring help to the people in their homes – words, clothes, medication, food.”

“Terrible as the war is, it has shown us we can be a church for all, close to those in need.

We learn to listen to the needs of others, when everyone tries to save themselves and their loved ones.

Grounded in faith, we witness to love in the middle of the hate that the war has brought.” 

 

 

I don’t know what motivates your kindness to the people you help through ALWS.

What I do know is your love amid the hate …

… lived out in your generosity and faithfulness …

… are a powerful witness to the true spirit of Christmas – especially for those who feel forgotten by the world.

My Christmas prayer for you is that you feel as much joy as you bring to the lives of others.

May God bless you!

PS: In January we will be launching registrations for Walk My Way Ukraine in Brisbane on 11 May 2024. This is one way that we can show the Ukrainian people that they aren’t forgotten!

 

 

 

HOPE Spot #55: What you can do, what I can’t do, this Christmas

Wednesday 13 December 

This morning I got 17 Christmas catalogues in the mail.

Look at them!

I’m guessing you’re the same – unless you have a NO JUNK MAIL warning on your letterbox.

So many things to buy.

So many bargains to get.

So much money to ‘save’.

 

FREE! DISCOUNT. SAVINGS!!!

 

You know what I’m talking about.

No wonder we Australians are predicted to spend $63 BILLION through the six weeks of Christmas season (National Retailers Association.)

 

Scanning all those catalogues though, I didn’t see a single item for Ashkiro …

Yet, when you hear Ashkiro tell her story, you know she needs a gift of kindness this Christmas more than just about anyone else.

Ashkiro has a condition called achondroplasia dwarfism.

This impairs the growth of her limbs, spine and skull, and causes traumatising pain.

She lives in Somalia, where support for people with disabilities is extremely limited.

She’s a young woman in a country where 99% of girls and women are forced to suffer genital mutilation.

None of this has stopped Ashkiro’s enthusiasm for education, and desire to go to University:

“I am passionate about learning
and accomplishing
what other children are able to do.

 

My thirst for education
sometimes forces my mother
to carry me on her back to school,
but she never sees me as a burden.”

Ashkiro, and her mum, are why this Christmas ALWS aims to support 3,500 children with disabilities in Somalia to receive care, and support to go to school.

 

Donate now to support a child
like Ashkiro to go to school!

 

I’m sorry, unlike the catalogues, I can’t say it’s FREE.

In fact, on average, it costs $52 per child to provide:

  • Renovated school to be disability-friendly
  • Tailored individual rehabilitation plan
  • Enrolment in school
  • Assistive devices (white canes & crutches) built by local carpenters
  • Home visits
  • Teachers trained in Inclusive Learning
  • Raised community awareness to end stigma

What do you think? Good value for a child like Ashkiro for $52?

 

DONATE NOW FOR CHRISTMAS

 

Sadly, unlike the catalogues, I also can’t offer you a discount.

What I can do is tell you that your donation is matched 5:1 by an Australian Government Grant, so your impact is SIX TIMES your personal donation!

The Government explains the Grant like this:

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

I explain it like this:

DONATE 5:1 TO INCREASE YOUR IMPACT
FOR CHILDREN THIS CHRISTMAS SIX TIMES!

 

Now, what about the ‘savings’ the catalogues in your letterbox offer?

You guessed it.

No ‘savings’, apart from the fact your 5:1 Christmas gift for a child like Ashkiro is tax-deductible.

Much more important than money ‘savings’ though is what your Christmas kindness means for someone like Ashkiro:

 

“I won’t be despised for my dwarfism
and won’t let my spirit and determination
be broken by anyone
until I realise my dreams.

 I am thankful for your support
to ease the existing burden.”

 

Saving her life? Yes, I think you could say that!

I hope your letterbox survives the catalogue avalanche this Christmas.

I invite you to ignore them all …

… and instead consider a 5:1 donation to support a child in Somalia, impaired by disability, to go to school after Christmas. $52 per child. Tax-deductible.

Your impact is multiplied SIX TIMES by the Government Grant, so you help:

Taban
Xabib
Faduumo
Bishaaro
Casho
Ashkiro

 

Thank you for your love and kindness in making sure these children with disability aren’t forgotten this Christmas! This is why you are a blessing ALWayS!

PS: ALWS has never before asked for help directly for children with disability. Truth is, I don’t know how the ALWS family will respond. I simply trust in the kindness of people like you, and your wisdom in using the 5:1 Government Grant to increase your impact SIX TIMES. That’s such a wonderful thing to do this Christmas, I’d probably need 17 catalogues to describe what a blessing you will be. What I can do is simply say – Thank you!

 

 

HOPE Spot #54: Why God gave us tears…

Friday 8 December 

A fortnight ago the son of the South Australian Police Commissioner was killed in a traffic accident.

The tragedy struck home across the state.

I guess we all felt we ‘knew’ the Commissioner, and so the loss felt closer to home.

The local newspaper did a wrap-around feature where it listed all of the 101 people who died on South Australian roads this year – their photo, their name, their age, and sometimes even small stories about their life.

The numbers became people.

The tragedies became personal.

This is what happens with the way you help people through ALWS.

Your kindness goes to individual people, not just tables of statistics.

Each person you help through ALWS is supported to share their story – what they have lost, what they are looking for. Especially those who are too often overlooked or forgotten.

You can see this in the photo below as the LWF team you support in Ethiopia cares for people fleeing crisis:

Photo: LWF Ethiopia

 

Humbly listening to people as individuals
is how you help heal hearts as well as hurts.

You do the same right now for people suffering in Israel and Gaza after the Hamas terrorist attacks.

More than 90 cancer patients from Gaza are stranded at the Augusta Victoria Hospital you support through ALWS, and our partner LWF, in East Jerusalem.

Fatima leads a team of six social workers caring for these patients:

 

“I feel it is very important to tell them
we are here for them.

We give patients a safe space to express their feelings
and share their fears and worries.
Many patients expressed feelings of helplessness,
anxiety and insecurity.
There are a lot of emotions and crying.”

Archive Photo: LWF / A. Hillert

Your kindness through ALWS welcomes people because they need you, regardless of religion, gender or politics …

… and that’s vital when you help in complex times like this Israel Gaza Crisis. Fatima says:

“Every patient is mourning loved ones.
Some have not even been able to contact their families.

 Children in Gaza tell their parents here
that they are hungry and thirsty.

 Patients feel bad because they have a roof over their heads,
food and electricity, while their families in Gaza suffer.
Some of the parents here think about stopping their treatment.
One patient refused to eat. Mothers express the wish
to go back and die with their children.

In our culture, men do not cry. I tell them it’s OK.
God gave us tears to show that you loved someone,
and that you lost them.”

 Your love and care for people as individuals is also vital when you give help to girls and women who have been the victims of gender-based violence.

Like Rose, who I met many years ago in a refugee camp, but who I will never forget:

Photo: ALWS

 

When I talked with Rose, she was safe, and building a new life at school. 

Yet what she suffered seemed almost too much for anyone to bear. She was not even a teenager when she was kidnapped from a shop by someone her family knew and trusted.

The man took Rose to a refugee camp, telling people Rose was his sister.

At the camp, Rose begged to be allowed to go to school. In her first exam, she got 100%.

“I showed him, but he said I will never let you go back again. You will stay here and give birth to my children. I cried. But he refused for me to go to school.

 When I see the other children go to school, I feel so bad. He refused to give me money for books and pens.

 So, when I received the food ration, I sold one cup of cow-peas. I got 50 Kenyan shillings. I took this to the shop and bought five exercise books and a pen. Then I came home.

 He said where did you get the money? He took those books and tore them into many little pieces. He beat me badly with a cane. When one cane broke, he got another. He said he will kill me like a dog.”

This is when the LWF Child Protection Team you support at this refugee camp found Rose, rescued her, and supported her to return to school and be safe.

“Sometimes when I have a lot of stress, I don’t want to eat, and I want to leave to look for my mother. Here at school, we have a Parent Visiting Day, and I feel bad because I have no one to come and visit me. I go into a classroom and cry and cry.

LWF come and counsel me and I come back to normal. They visit me often, and help me.

I will never give up on life. I used to feel bad and lonely, but here I have many friends. I can share my stories, and then we can laugh and forget.”

 Rose shared her story with me, so I could share it with you, and you would know how precious you are:

“On behalf of every child here, especially those who are suffering, I would like to thank all who help us. When I was trapped in the community, I was thinking how can I get out?

Now you have rescued me.

 I would like to thank you for all you do. If not for you, I don’t know where I would be. I thank you and pray may God help you to stay a long time in this world.”

These are the people whose lives you touch.

You’ll see this in your Gifts of Grace too …

… because behind each fun gift you give, there is someone who shares their story. Each Grace Card you give has a link to these stories, which you can read here.

As you look at the world today, and see the hurt so many people face, it may be that God gives you tears too.

That’s why today I wanted to remind you:

Your love helps heal hearts, not just hurts …
… and that’s why you are a blessing ALWayS!

 Thank you!

PS: If your heart feels moved to do more to help, you can:

 Ethiopia

Israel Gaza Crisis

Gifts of Grace

Action resources

 

 

HOPE Spot #53: Season to Smile

Monday 4 December 2023

Friend just a quick reminder to order your Gifts of Grace NOW,
if you haven’t already …

… so our ALWS volunteers can pack and post your Grace Cards in time for Christmas!

Thanking …

The first 500 Gifts of Grace orders received the unique Christmas Tree ornament you see above.

This was handmade by a team of people living with disabilities in a project you support through ALWS in Indonesia. Effendi (see photo below) and his wife Betty designed the Batik Nativity scene, which the team then printed and glued to recycled CDs.

Effendi and Betty pray a prayer of blessing over every item they make, so my prayer is this a gift that will be treasured forever.

See the joy the people you help, had doing this for you …

… creating

… preparing

… producing

…… ironing!!!

… packing

… posting

(That’s volunteer Dalise in our ALWS Albury office!)

Of course, your Thank You Gift isn’t the only reason to smile …

… the Grace Cards you give can be hung on the Christmas Trees of friends and family as a symbol of the true spirit of Christmas

 

… delighting

… and each Grace Card has a Seed Diamond that can be planted to produce Forget-Me-Not flowers, as a beautiful reminder to those you love of your kindness!

 

… growing!

You can also read the full stories of the people you help through Gifts of Grace in this beautiful e-Book! Explore!

 

Order Gifts of Grace here or call us on 1300 763 407 so volunteers like Dalise can rush you your order in time for Christmas!

That’s not just a reason to smile – it’s a whole SEASON! For ALWayS!

Photos: CDRM&CDS, ALWS

 

 

 

HOPE Spot #52: Your SIX TIMES Christmas kindness for Taban

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Meet Taban.

He’s four years old, and lives with cerebral palsy in a Displaced Persons Camp in Somalia.

When Taban was diagnosed, his dad disowned him.

       Then abandoned the family.

              Tragically, this happens too often …

                    … and children with disabilities are left behind and forgotten.

That’s why, this Christmas I’m calling on your kindness

to help make sure no child is left behind.

 Donate now

 

You already live out the values of Christmas in your kindness and generosity …

… and that gives me confidence to share a challenge with you.

 

Earlier this year, the ALWS family gathered together to use an 18:1 grant to support 8,080 children in Somalia to go to school for the next three years.

           School kits.

                   Classrooms.

                             Teachers.

                                     Daily porridge…

Children like Taban need something more.

They need trained Special Needs teachers. Ramps. Disability-friendly toilets. Braille books. Crutches. White canes. Understanding. Patience. Care.

This costs more.

ALWS is stepping out in faith to support 3,500 children in Somalia like Taban to receive the treatment and care they need … and then be supported to go to school.

On average, it costs $52 per child to provide complete care (see 7 Step Plan below).

Donate now

GOOD NEWS!

The good news is that while we have not been able to get an 18:1 Grant for these special children, the Australian Government has provided: 

The Government explains the 5:1 Grant 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 our programs.

 

I explain it this way:

Donate 5:1 now

Your Christmas donation (tax-deductible) will help a child like Taban through:

YOUR 7 STEP ALWS ACTION PLAN
  1. Enrol 2,500 Learners with Disabilities into school:
  • Provide uniform
  • Assistive devices
  • Disability-friendly teaching and learning
  • Teachers
  1. Renovate one school as model for Inclusive Education:
  • Widen doors for learners with wheelchairs and crutches
  • Install more windows to increase lighting for learners with low vision
  • Install ramps and rails for access
  • Install disability-friendly latrines
  • Clear signage to latrines / office / classrooms
  1. Support 1,000 Children with Disabilities through Educational Assessment and Resource Centre:
  • Technical assessment of disability and support required
  • Rehabilitation program
  • Physiotherapy and treatment
  • Dry ration porridge (proven effective in encouraging parents to bring children for assessment & support)
  1. Awareness and advocacy for inclusion:
  • Community members
  • School parents
  • Local and national Government
  1. Train local carpenters to build assistive devices:
  • Crutches
  • White canes
  • Assistive rails
  1. Build engagement with families:
  • Home visits
  • Outreach services
  • Transport
  1. Train teachers in disability-friendly techniques:
  • Braille
  • Sign-languages
  • Individual Education Plans
  • Special Needs Education

You can provide all this for a child like Taban for $52.

Tax-deductible.

PLUS the 5:1 Australian Government Grant means your impact is SIX TIMES your personal donation!

Donate 5:1 NOW!

 

Dreams achieved

Our ALWS ‘dream’ – step of faith – Christmas ‘wish’ – is to support 3,500 children with disabilities like Taban.

Taban’s mum, Shamsa, has a dream too:

“Taban is a brilliant boy and he’s getting better by the day.

 

I hope for a day when our world is adapted to be inclusive

for everyone with different abilities. Society should be mindful

of people living with disabilities by giving them equal chances

in life, as this will help them achieve their dreams.

 

All that these children want is to be included.”

 

… if you share Shamsa’s dream for her little boy …

… you are welcome to use the 5:1 Grant, at $52 per child, tax-deductible

… to support a child with disability like Taban to be included, just like every other child.

Donate 5:1 now

Thank you for helping make sure no child is forgotten or left behind.

That’s why you are a blessing at Christmas … and ALWayS!

 

 

HOPE Spot #51: 😊 😊 😊 😊 😊

Friday 24 November 2023

See these sunny smiles …

Photo: LWF Burundi

… they’re thanks to you!

These ladies are a Women’s Group Forum in Burundi that received your support through ALWS, and our partner LWF, to build a better life for their families – and themselves.

As you know, through ALWS you help people in danger of being forgotten by the world.

Your care goes to people living with disability, those who are elderly or sick, those rejected by the community …

… and girls and women, who too often suffer in ways that mean they need focused support.

Just being born female may mean:

…  you have to labour in the fields all day + fetch water

+ cook food + run the household + care for the children

… while missing out on education + your rights

+ being able to make your own decisions

 

… and too often being forced to marry someone

you don’t choose, or too early, or older than you,

or before your body is ready to have children

 

… while also suffering threats and violence and abuse.

 

That’s why this year we have a special focus on girls and women in Gifts of Grace.

The good news is this helps you have a real and lasting impact. Not just protecting women from violence, but also supporting change that enables all women’s gifts to bless their community.

You’ll see this for yourself when you listen to these ladies from Burundi:

BEFORE
AFTER

Before, when there was conflict in a family, say when a man beat his wife and she goes back to her own family, they would say ‘that’s just the way it is’ and send them back to that man.

But now it is different. When we see family conflict happening and see fight coming, we
know how to stop it – by talking and sorting.

If the husband is misusing the family money for gambling or drinking, the wife can go and ask the employer to send back the money to her.

The men also appreciate this Women’s Forum Group and even some men come and ask for help!

Before we came together in this forum, many women were having problems in their families. They had no rights, no power to make decisions or participate in family decisions about money and other matters.

 

Then LWF training began changing this for us. They trained us about family law and some procedures for how a household could run with different roles and duties.

We learnt about peace conflict resolution – how to try and solve family problems peacefully. No one can make decisions for the family without talking to the other.

The village community was undermining women’s ability to participate in meetings. Women had no way to express themselves.

We are happy to have this Group and to be members of it. We feel honoured among the other women as they have chosen us to serve in this program. They have confidence in us.

Before, people having problems would have to go to the Government Administrators far away.

Now we can help solve problems here. Even the Elected Administrators have confidence in this Group and when they hear of problems, they send them to us!

We feel proud when we have solved a problem peacefully and then the family tell others. They often come and say thank you to us. This makes us feel good about our work. We like to help.”

Because the challenges facing girls and women are so great …

… ALWS supports the UN program 16 Days of Activism that aims to make sure girls and women receive the extra support they need, and that their rights are upheld.

You can take simple practical action for girls and women through ALWS Gifts of Grace:

  • Provide a farmer like Tara in Nepal with Veggie Seeds for a home garden ($11)
  • Help a women’s group in Indonesia set up a Banana Chip Business ($154)
  • Supply 3 chooks and a start-up kit so a mum can start a Chicken Farm ($23)
  • Give a Goat to a grandma in Burundi, plus training in livestock-raising ($75)
  • Support a girl in Somalia to go to school with a School Set ($5)

The bonus good news is that investing in girls and women has a double benefit because it also directly helps children:

  • extra income is spent on children’s needs
  • children have more food to eat, and are healthier
  • girls are more likely to be encouraged to go to school

Thank you for all you do through ALWS to support girls and women build better lives for themselves and their families. To them, you are a blessing ALWayS …

… so, please share in their sunny smiles!

PS: You can watch short videos from Nepal, Burundi and refugee camps in Kenya here (total time – 5 minutes) to hear direct from projects about your ALWS action for girls and women – drinking water taps, soap-making, hairdressing – watch now! The videos are at the bottom of the page.

 

 

HOPE Spot #50: Cold as Ice… Warm as Kindness

Wednesday 22 November

At ALWS staff devotion last week, team member Julie talked to us about ice.

Julie shared how if someone is treating us coldly, it doesn’t do much good to respond coldly. It just makes everything worse.

As Australia wrestles with challenging issues like the outcome of the Voice Referendum … the Israel Gaza Crisis … and so many other things on which people have different opinions, Julie suggested a different approach …

… responding with the warmth of kindness, that can melt cold hearts.

The next two weeks in Ukraine, the forecast is for temperatures down to minus 5 degrees.

Can you imagine facing that, when your ‘home’ has been reduced to this:

Photo: LWF / Anatoli Nazarenko

The building you see is in Kharkiv,
where you work through ALWS and our partner LWF,
aiming to renovate 525 apartments before Christmas!

It’s not a full renovation, but doors and windows are replaced, water and sanitation restored, and electricity reconnected. The aim is to make the apartments warm and habitable again.

According to Mark Mullan (photo), leader of the LWF team in Ukraine:

Photo: LWF/Anatolyi Nazarenko

“Our commitment is to put displaced families at the very centre of our program, and provide a range of integrated services to support the families.

With this people-centric approach, we have a better chance of allowing people to return successfully to their homes of origin with dignity.”

The LWF team also engages community mobilisers who know the local context. They have been trained to offer support to vulnerable and traumatised people.

 

NOT JUST A HOME 

One of the people who will benefit from your help is Mykola Tisheninov.

When his apartment was bombed, the 73 year old had nowhere to go. Returning to his renovated apartment will be a cause for celebration:

“We are looking forward to returning to our own place.

 For us, it is not just a home.

 It’s a place of inspiration, a place where our family stories were born, and a place of our strength.”

Thank you very much for being part of the ALWS family working hard together to bring help and hope to people in danger of being forgotten.

 

The people of Ukraine remain a priority for ALWS:

  • this week, ALWS was able to commit a further $329,331 to this ministry
  • you can see more details of your work in Ukraine in Update 9
  • ALWS is planning a Walk My Way Ukraine for central Brisbane on Saturday 11 May next year
  • you can see your ALWS impact through Australia’s Emergency Action Alliance here
  • you can donate here to keep helping the people of Ukraine – both inside Ukraine, and in Poland

 

Now, I don’t know what the temperature is where you live …

… but I’m pretty sure it won’t be minus 5 like it is in Ukraine.

Thank you for the warmth of your kindness and generosity that is such a blessing to people in danger of being forgotten by the world.

You are a blessing ALWayS!

 

 

 

HOPE Spot #49: Truckloads of Kindness

Thursday 16 November

I didn’t get the full rego of the truck that hit me last week …

… but it started with COV-1D.

Health is one of those things you can take for granted, until you don’t have it.

Like food on the table.

Clean water.

Peace.

As I lay in bed last week feeling sorry for myself, I realised what’s special about you is you don’t take these things for granted.

In fact, you see them missing in the lives of other people, and through ALWS you help.

Whether it’s through giving goats and school kits and Long Drop Loos in Gifts of Grace

… or supporting the work of August Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem in response to the Israel Gaza Crisis

… or simply faithfully reading these HOPE Spots to stay updated, or find personal prayer points

… your kindness and generosity are a blessing ALWayS!

You are especially important for people in danger of being forgotten by the world, and that’s why I want to update you today.

This information is quite ‘heavy’ and detailed, so I understand if you don’t have time or wish to read it all …

… but I do want you to be fully informed about what you do for people through ALWS.

 

MYANMAR

As you know, the coup in 2021 has made life awful for the people, and also challenging for aid agencies like ALWS to get your help to where you are needed.

The good news is your ALWS action is still getting through, and making an impact.

At the same time, ALWS has added our support to a submission to a Senate Standing Committee on how Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) can do more to help agencies like ALWS support the people of Myanmar.

The submission comes from ACFID Myanmar Community of Practice (ACFID = Australian Council for International Development) and proposes:

  1. Flexible and contextually appropriate approach to risk management that enables strengthening of local civil society.
  2. Continued and strengthened Australian advocacy and diplomacy to address in-country barriers to delivery of assistance in Myanmar. 
  3. Increase and target Australia’s overall ODA (Official Development Assistance) to Myanmar to meet urgent needs and enable greater localisation of assistance.
 
ETHIOPIA

You likely won’t have seen Ethiopia in Australian media reports …

… but the news from LWF (Lutheran World Federation) Country Representative, Sophie Gebreyes, continues to be very disturbing. Sophie shares:

I am coming to you to give you an update on the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia at a time when most of you are preoccupied by the Israel-Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan crises among many.

As a country that has seen many violent conflicts over the years, our hearts go out to all who are caught up in these conflicts and express our solidarity with all humanitarian workers who are struggling to provide assistance under very difficult circumstances with overstretched aid capacity and resources.

Meanwhile in Ethiopia, away from the media glare, the situation in the north is going from dire to catastrophic:

 

Humanitarian

Food distribution, suspended to Internally Displaced People (IDP) in March, has still not resumed. The number of IDPs has topped 4.38 million as of end of August 2023, exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation.

Many of the 1.8 million forcibly displaced Tigrayans believed that they will be returning home, but a year on that remains an unattainable dream as parts of the region are still occupied by Eritrean forces to the north and Amhara militias in the West.  

This means that many schools that had to become IDP sites have not returned to being schools, condemning many children in Tigray to yet another year without formal education.  

Last month, the Tigray Interim Government made the official announcements of veterans lost in the Tigray War, plunging the entire region in a deep sense of mourning, an event that resurfaced the trauma from the past two years in many.    Besides inability to return, and limited aid, many are waiting for justice.

 

Amhara

Amhara, where the Tigray conflict spilled into in 2021, has been beset by a fresh conflict that started in April 2023. The violent conflict is continuing unabated, killing, maiming and displacing hundreds of thousands, although exact figures are hard to obtain due to access restrictions.

Many areas are not accessible for humanitarian assistance or for regular travel. LWF is facing challenges in continuing/starting operation in Amhara (Kumer Refugee camp in Gondar, and in Lalibela in North Wello) due to the insecurity.

Just today, sources have confirmed an ongoing conflict between government security forces and Fano in Lalibela Town, situated in the North Wollo Zone of the Amhara Region. The fighting is currently intense and has resulted in disruptions to daily activities and transportation services within the town. Additionally, there have been reports of fluctuating phone communication in Lalibela Town since the morning.  

LWF has no relocatable staff in Lalibela and have instructed all of our local staff to hibernate and advised newly recruited staff to postpone travel to the zone.  

There is also a huge concern over the fate of the famous rock hewn Lalibela churches as the fighting with heavy artillery intensifies.

 

Droughts and floods

In addition to violent conflicts, heavy rain and drought in different parts of the country are conspiring to complete the disastrous outlook for Ethiopia in 2024. 

After fourth consecutive failed rains and droughts in the Southern Belt, the same areas are experiencing heavy floods displacing many and destroying livelihoods. In the highlands, there are indications of El Niño-induced droughts in the cereal growing areas like in the Amhara Region where the conflict has already impeded farmers to plant during the long kremt rains.

Thank you for your continued support, understanding and for holding Ethiopia up in your prayers.

Sophie

 
CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
Photo: LWF Somalia

Earlier this year, ALWS accessed an 18:1 grant to support 8,080 children in Displaced Persons Camps in Somalia to go to school.

The response from the ALWS family was amazing – the full 3 years program is now totally funded!

The good news is ALWS has now secured a new 5:1 Grant from the Australian Government to help make sure other children – those  – in these camps don’t miss out on school.

I plan to give you more information in the next two weeks, in plenty of time for Christmas.

You’ll meet children like Taban and be amazed how our Christmas kindness can be life-transforming.

Our goal is to help 2,500 children with disabilities go to school next year, and support 1,000 younger children with disabilities receive the support they need to achieve their potential. 

 

THANK YOU!

Thank you that I can share these opportunities and challenges with you.

While some people feel helpless in the face of the hurt happening in so many parts of the world …

… your kindness and compassion through ALWS literally bring truckloads of help where you are needed most. Food. Water. Shelter. Medical care.

You don’t take people’s needs for granted, and that’s why you are a blessing ALWayS! Thank you! 

(I pray you stay safe and well and aren’t hit by the same ‘truck’ that hit me!)

 

PS: I have now recovered from being run over by the COVID truck – but it took me back to March 2020, when COVID first hit hard. That’s when I started writing these HOPE Spots, as an antidote of encouragement to COVID HOT Spots. Today’s HOPE Spot is my 187th – I pray they may be a blessing to you.  Jonathan

 

PPS: NEPAL EARTHQUAKE 

Photo: LWF/M. Khatri

When I wrote to you last week about the Magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Nepal, that took more than 150 lives, I told you that our partner LWF Nepal was not working in the area.

Since then, LWF has told us that 12,000 of the most affected people are Dalit – among the poorest and most marginalised people in the community.

Therefore, LWF has been called in to respond. The team you support is working to provide Emergency Shelter Kits, food, Hygiene Kits, warm clothes, blankets to withstand the cold, and psychosocial support. Priority is given to children, the elderly, and people with disabilities – those who are too often forgotten. If you have any questions, please call 1300 763 407. Thank you! 

 


 

 

HOPE Spot #48: Your ALWS action for Israel Gaza Crisis

Wednesday 8 November
Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Each day the news from the Israel Gaza Crisis seems worse. 

It can make you feel deeply sad and hopelessly helpless.

After the abhorrent acts of terrorist group Hamas against Israel, there seems no end to the loss of innocent lives.

 

Today I have a small glimmer of good news.

 

In the days immediately after the terror attack, ALWS committed $50,000 to the emergency response of our partner Lutheran World Federation (LWF) at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

The Hospital provides cancer treatment and kidney dialysis services to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza (see photo).

The good news is the generosity of people like you,
means ALWS can DOUBLE our commitment to $100,000!

 

This enables your care to extend beyond the Augusta Victoria Hospital, and provide crisis care through ACT Alliance partner, Middle Eastern Council of Churches.

The Council’s Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) has long experience working in Gaza, and will now target care to:

PEOPLE Under 5 5-17 18-59 60+
Female 2,300 10,475 8,175 2,050
Male 2,050 9,225 7,175 2,050

 

Key aid activities you will support through ALWS include:

  • Health
  • Shelter
  • Food security
  • Job creation
  • Psychosocial support
  • Cash grants

 

DONATE NOW

 

I have prepared a full Update 3 for you of your expanded ALWS action, which you can read here.

ALWS has also joined with other international aid agencies based in Australia with a letter to our Prime Minister, calling for further action – ACFID Letter to Prime Minister

Meanwhile, of course, your ALWS action continues to help child victims of other wars, in places like South Sudan and Somalia, and in refugee camps at Kakuma and Dadaab – places and people forgotten by the world.

 

Through Gifts of Grace you can give practical help this Christmas, like:

  • Porridge meal each school day for 6 months for a Somali refugee child: $6
  • Set up a School Kitchen Garden at Kakuma Refugee Camp: $756
  • School set of books and stationery for a child from Somalia: $5
  • Support a mum in South Sudan to start a business: $150

Thank you again for all the help you give people through ALWS, especially in these deeply disturbing times.

 

Please take heart knowing that your kindness brings help and hope where people hurt the most. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

HOPE Spot #47: Gumboots

Friday 3 November

The second last time I wore a pair of gumboots was 50 years ago in my uncle’s cowshed.

I was a smart-alecky city-slicker kid on school holidays so my main job was on the end of a shovel, running from one south end of a cow facing north, to another.

Slippery business indeed.

The next time I wore gumboots was last weekend when we visited an old school friend on their family farm.

As you can see from the photo, it’s not quite so easy for me to slip on a pair of gumbies these days.

(I think they must make them different from what I remember??)

I wasn’t quite sure why I needed gumboots for a pleasant stroll in the sunshine …

… until 30 minutes later when I was sliding to the bottom of a gulley, radar on full alert for snakes upset at being woken, dodging ankle-breaker wombat holes and fresh splatty deposits of what my uncle had introduced me to in his cow shed.

 

Gumboots may not be the most fashionable footwear around …

… but they get you where you want to go, and keep you safe along the way.

 

Humble and hard-working.

 

A lot like the help you give people through ALWS:

• building bomb shelters in basements of schools in Ukraine

• supplying Dignity Kits at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem to patients left stranded by the Israel Gaza crisis

• helping families construct Long Drop Loos for their homes in Indonesia

• teaching farmers how to turn goat droppings into organic fertiliser

• standing knee-deep in water to plant mangroves or plant-out rice paddies

• offering crutches and physio to someone struggling to walk another step

… the kind of behind-the-scenes, hands-on, ‘dirty’ work that won’t ever win a headline – but is essential to protect the lives of people most at risk, and in danger of being forgotten.

 

That’s you.

 

Where you’re needed.

Just getting on with it.

Like gumboots.

 

Which is why I’m happy to put my foot in it, and risk you getting offended at me calling you a gumboot. For me, it’s yet another reason you are a blessing ALWayS.

 

PS: ALWS volunteers are ready to pack your Gifts of Grace order to beat the Christmas rush, and the mail system’s non-rush (sigh). First 500 orders receive a special handmade gift from Indonesia, (see below) and each Grace Card has a Seed Diamond that blossoms into forget-me-not flowers, so your message of the true heart of Christmas can keep on growing. Order now

PPS: Early next week I will update you on your ALWS action in response to the Israel Gaza Crisis. You are welcome to donate here to provide help at Augusta Victoria Hospital.

 

 


HOPE Spot #46: Rapt or Wrapped?

Friday 27 October 2023

Last Friday I wrapped the Principal of a Lutheran school head to toe in Christmas wrapping paper, in front of her 150 students.

This was after I had tried to stuff her into a shoebox.

I had told the students the stories of three girls I met the last time I was at a Refugee Camp in Kenya – Diana, Joy and Judith.

Photo: ALWS

The cousins’ parents had been killed in the war in South  , and the girls had to flee on foot. After three days, they finally found safety supported by people like you at Kakuma.

The challenge was getting the kind of education every child deserves, when a typical class in a refugee camp may have 95 students in it.

They need more teachers.

That’s why I ‘volunteered’ the Principal of the Lutheran school to go! 😊

It was soon clear to her students that it made no sense to try to pack a shoebox here in Australia with a teacher (or school-desk, or schoolbooks, or disability-friendly toilet).

That’s when I introduced this year’s Gifts of Grace.

The students (and teachers) saw how they could support a teacher like Zainab in a refugee camp – $110 for one month, or $1100 to provide a teacher for all next year!

Photo: LWF Kenya

For $6 even the youngest students in Australia could provide a daily school meal of nutritional porridge for a child in a refugee camp every school day for 6 months!

$5 provides a School Kit.

The Aussie students were rapt … or is it wrapped?

I hope you will be too when you look through your Gifts of Grace catalogue and choose gifts to give your friends and family this year.

NEW this year are Grace Cards that can be hung on the Christmas Tree …

… then planted in the ground to produce Forget-Me-Not flowers!

(I wanted to give the Principal who ‘volunteered’ a bunch of Forget-Me-Nots to say thank you for being a good sport …
… but had to make do with some plastic fakes from the $2 shop.)

PLUS a ‘Thank you’ for you!

First 500 orders Gifts of Grace orders this year receive a unique Christmas Tree ornament gift, designed and handmade from recycled CDs, by people with disability in a Lutheran Centre you support in Indonesia.

My hope and prayer, in this world that seems so messed up right now, is that your ALWS Gifts of Grace will brighten the Christmas of those you love …

… as you bless those you help, like  and Zainab. What a priceless Christmas gift to unwrap – two Doctors, a Pilot and a Teacher.

That’s why you are a blessing not just at Christmas – but ALWayS!

PS: I will keep you updated on your ALWS support of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, in response to the Israel Gaza crisis. You can read UPDATE 2 here.

 


HOPE Spot #45: How does your garden grow?

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Don’t you just love spring?

The first bursts of warmth in the air. Shrubs and flowers waking up from winter snooze. Veggies fresh and bursting to be planted.

Birds seem to sing louder (and earlier!). Butterflies flit.

Love it.

Here are three more people who love Spring.

Between them, Paul, Rex and Claire have more than 280 years of life experience …

… and for the last 20+ of those years, these wonderful ALWS supporters have been planting and propagating … loading and unloading … smiling and selling … through chilly mornings and windy afternoons … at weekend markets and local shows

… to sell plants to raise money to help people through ALWS!

(Paul’s wife, Annette, was a key part of the team until she was taken to walk the heavenly garden last year.)

If I told you how many dollars these green thumbs had grown with their hard work, you wouldn’t believe it.

So instead, let me just take you from one of Paul’s hothouses on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia …

… to a hothouse at Kakuma in Kenya, supported by people like Paul and Rex and Claire and you through ALWS

… where Ayenai is now growing capsicum, kale, spinach and tomatoes

… and outside growing maize, pumpkin, butternuts, onions, watermelon and sorghum

… selling surplus to local cafes and supermarkets, after she has made sure her children have enough to be healthy and strong and fit for school.

This is how your garden grows
through ALWS.

That’s why I think you will enjoy your brand new ALWS Gifts of Grace!

Our theme this year is See your love grow!

And you’ll be able to do exactly that with gifts like:

That’s not all that’s growing …

… your Grace Cards this year each have a Seed Diamond that can be planted (after being hung on the family Christmas Tree) to produce Forget-Me-Not flowers!

I have much more to tell you about your Gifts of Grace

… today I just hope I have planted a seed that puts a ‘spring’ in your step! 😊

Thank you for the seeds you sow, and everything you grow, in people’s lives through ALWS. You are a blessing ALWayS!

PS: Our theme Bible Verse for Gifts of Grace has a beautiful promise of what we can grow together:

God will provide rain for the seeds you sow.
The grain that GROWS will be abundant.
Isaiah 30:23

PPS: In my HOPE Spot on Friday, I mentioned statements re Israel Gaza Crisis from LWF and ACFID – but I forgot to activate the link. Sorry!

You can read our partner in Jerusalem, LWF’s, statement here.

ALWS is also one of more than 130 members of ACFID – Australian Council for International Development – that has released this statement.

 


HOPE Spot #44: Israel Gaza Crisis – inside the hospital

The Israel Gaza Crisis brings new horrors every day.

Today I can take you inside the Augusta Victoria Hospital you support in East Jerusalem through ALWS.                                                                             

The hospital is owned and operated by ALWS partner, Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and serves 5 million Palestinians.

 

The hospital specialises in care for cancer patients and providing haemodialysis for kidney patients.

 

Children also receive critical care.

 

DONATE NOW

 

Photo: LWF / Albin Hillert

Dr Fadi Atrash, heads the hospital, and shares the impact of the Israel Gaza Crisis:

 

Dr Fadi, can you give us an update on the situation at the hospital?

 

We are in an emergency, and we do not know how things will develop. I have set up an emergency team to coordinate our work. We have enough staff on board 24 hours a day to guarantee the operation of the hospital.

 

Our mission is humanitarian – we are on the side of our patients and those affected by war and conflict.

 

Most of your cancer patients come from the West Bank and Gaza. How is the crisis affecting them?

 

40% of our patients come from Gaza. We have a total of 71 people from Gaza in the hospital right now. They cannot return home, so we are finding accommodation for them here.

 

Since the war started last Saturday, 44 patients from Gaza were scheduled for chemotherapy and 28 for radiation. They cannot go home. We have another 60 patients scheduled for chemotherapy and 20 for radiation this week, but now they cannot come.

 

If the treatment for cancer is interrupted, it will of course affect the prognosis negatively.

 

What about kidney patients?

 

We keep the patients for haemodialysis in the hospital, because they need a session every other day. If they miss it, they will die. It’s a life-saving treatment.

 

We are keeping almost all of the children from the West Bank who receive haemodialysis here in the hospital, to guarantee the continuity of their treatment, and the safety of them and their families.

 

How are patients from Gaza dealing with the news they receive?

 

It is very, very sad and very difficult for them. On top of their very painful journey of cancer treatment, they are losing family members and their homes. They watch the news all day, trying to get in contact with their families. They see all the destruction, and they are far from their loved ones. They are suffering. Our nurses and psychosocial teams are trying to be with them all the time. It’s not easy to support them in this situation.

 

In previous years, the hospital has sent medical teams to Gaza to care for the wounded after air strikes. Is that possible now?

 

No, it is not possible. This time is different. Yesterday morning I called a friend who is in a UN shelter in Gaza. He told me: “There is no electricity, no water, and no humanitarian access, not even for blood transfusions. The hospitals are overwhelmed with injured and casualties. Lightly injured people die because there is no medicine, no blood products, or they cannot get to the hospital in time.”

 

People are very afraid in Gaza. Their voices are not heard. They are worried about tomorrow and what will happen to them.

 

What is your message to the world?

 

Everyone here is against killing of all civilians.

 

There is no doubt about this, whatever your origin, your race, your religion, as a human being. The human response should be equal on both sides.

 

Most important now is a ceasefire, and to open a humanitarian corridor for injured and sick people to be treated, and for fuel, water and food to enter. Guarantee the safety of children, women and innocent people, in Israel and Palestine, and allow for humanitarian and medical aid to reach those who need it.

 

Dr Fadi Atrash. Photo: LWF S. Gallay

ALWS has committed in faith $50,000 to the work of the Augusta Victoria Hospital at this time of crisis.

 

You are welcome to donate now.

 

Together, we pray for peace, for comfort for all those hurt or suffering loss, and safety for the staff of Augusta Victoria Hospital and all others providing medical and humanitarian aid.

 

Thank you for everything you do for people through ALWS, here in response to the Israel Gaza Crisis, and in other places in danger of being forgotten by the world.

 

Now, more than ever, you are a blessing ALWayS!

* Dr Fadi was interviewed by Cornelia Kastner-Meyer, Lutheran World Federation

 

PS: LWF has issued a statement on the Israel Gaza Crisis. You can read it here.

ALWS is also one of more than 130 members of ACFID – Australian Council for International Development – that has released this statement.

 

 


HOPE Spot #43: Israel Gaza Crisis – your ALWS action

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Yesterday ALWS received a plea from the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for help in response to the Israel Gaza crisis…

The hospital is owned and operated by our ALWS partner, Lutheran World Federation, with strong links to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land.

Located on the Mount of Olives, just above the Garden of Gethsemane, and 20 kilometres north of Bethlehem, the hospital needs support to provide:

  • Medical supplies
  • Meals for patients
  • Dignity Kits
  • Patient transport

While no one knows what coming days will hold …

… sadly, we can expect that many more people will suffer loss, pain and injury. That’s why:

On your behalf, ALWS has committed $50,000
to help people hurt by the Israel Gaza crisis.

You are welcome to join this emergency response: DONATE NOW

  • $500 can support patient transport
  • $50 can supply meals for patients
  • $100 can provide critical medical supplies
  • Any gift is precious and tax-deductible

The Augusta Victoria Hospital provides services to 5 million Palestinians, with 40% of patients coming from Gaza. Most come for cancer treatments. 15% of patients are children.

There are currently 71 people from Gaza at the hospital, unable to return home.

Your ALWS action is part of the response of churches worldwide through the ACT Alliance, that through other partners also includes:

  • Nutritional support with Food Vouchers
  • Emergency cash support
  • Hygiene Kits
  • Health support services
  • Psychosocial support
  • Potentially rehabilitate damaged homes

Thank you for all your kindness that means ALWS can step out in faith with this $50,000 emergency commitment …

… while still taking your care to victims of other emergencies – Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine – who are in danger of being forgotten.

Wherever you help people through ALWS, please know your care focuses on those most at risk – children, the elderly, people with disabilities, those who are marginalised – and welcomes all, no strings attached.

On behalf of each person you help, thank you. Truly, you are a blessing ALWayS.

PS: Even as we respond together to this Israel Gaza crisis, it’s vital we maintain support for your ALWS work in other areas. That’s why in the next 10 days you will still receive your new ALWS Gifts of Grace – sneak peek here!


HOPE Spot #42: Sunflowers in the sadness

Thursday 12 October 2023

Keep your face to the sunshine

and you cannot see the shadow.

It’s what sunflowers do.

Helen Keller

 

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a member of our extended family.

The loss was expected, yet still it hurts. Not so much because I was close to the person we farewelled …

… but because I could see up-close the impact that loss had on so many people.

 

Today, yesterday, tomorrow,

there are too many people in our world

crying for loved ones lost suddenly,

without warning, in horrible ways.

 

You and I can look at the world, especially now in Israel and Gaza, and despair.

The horror we see in today’s headlines …

… and the pain in places it seems the world has forgotten. Places where you work through ALWS. Ethiopia. Myanmar. Even Ukraine.

 

What’s special about you is that what you see is not countries – but people.

And not masses of people – but individuals.

A mum. A grandpa. A pre-schooler.

You see someone who needs you, and you reach out your hand in kindness and love.

You supply seeds. Give goats. Train teachers.

Even more, you say: “You are precious. Your pain matters to me.”

 

In a world where there is so much hurt and horror, where hopelessness and helplessness can threaten to overwhelm, your kindness and compassion plant seeds of hope.

Seeds that can flourish and grow like …

… sunflowers

At the funeral yesterday, the church was adorned with sunflowers, and we were each given a sunflower seed to take home and plant.

Sunflowers hold special meaning for the family because sunflowers always turn to face the sun.

As they do, they delight all those who see them with their colour and life and energy.

The sunflowers reminded me of a child I met in Burundi many years ago. You can see by his clothes the poverty in which he lived then …

… yet in his smile amid the sunflowers, I see the seeds of hope you plant in people’s lives through ALWS.

As the world grieves the hurt we see around us, and prays for all those crying in the wake of the terror attacks in Israel on Saturday …

… ALWS will keep taking your care to people suffering pain, but who may feel forgotten by the world.

Your care is the seed of hope that reassures them they are not alone, not forgotten – that they matter.

Today, if the world feels dark to you, please know your love shines sunflower bright. ALWayS.

 

God will provide rain for the seeds you sow.

The grain that grows will be abundant.

Isaiah 30:23

 

PS: You might not know, but one of the ways you help people is supporting ALWS to inspire young people in Australia to care for others the same way you do.

 In a junior class recently was Charlie, who didn’t like being at school very much.

 The class did an ALWS exercise where students look at the world through the eyes of a child living in a poor country like Burundi. The children talk about things like food, clean water, houses, clothes and school, and compare it to how we live in Australia. The students then collect items that represent these things and stick them on a paper plate. They are encouraged to take their plate home and share what they learned with their family.

 At the end of the day, when Charlie’s mum came to pick him up, he took out his paper plate, and explained to her what all the items meant, and how he couldn’t believe there were children in the world who did not have the chance to go to school like he did.

 Charlie’s teachers were amazed at all he had remembered, how he shared it with his mum, and how a child like him, who doesn’t really like school all that much, could see how unfair and hard it is that some children don’t even get a chance.

 Another sunflower planted.

 


HOPE Spot #41: Side by Side

Friday 6 October 2023

So, you thought you’d got through the week after AFL Grand Final …

… without hearing from me as a Collingwood supporter????

Sorry! 😊

(We Collingwood supporters lose twice as many Grand Finals as we win, so when we can finally celebrate, we do!)

Seriously though…

… there’s a line in the Collingwood theme song, that relates to what you do for people through ALWS:

Side by side they stick together

This is exactly what you are doing for the LWF team you support on the front line in Ethiopia.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the Messages of Hope eBook we sent to the team, with messages of encouragement from people like you.

Let me share with you a few of the messages the team has sent back for you:

Thanks for sharing the thoughts and prayers from our ALWS colleagues. Indeed, very encouraging words and thank them all for their continued support to the LWF Ethiopia.

Abdelkader
Senior Program Officer
Food Security and Livelihoods

 

THANK YOU ALWS and Australians for your warm thoughts. Kind regards, Miina

 

Dear Respected,

Thanks for sharing the e-book message link, I have got the opportunity to read all such a heart-touched, encourages messages from the ALWS families, that shall help me throughout my life to serve the disadvantaged communities everywhere around the world with all what I have/will originate from the true conscience and from the depth of my heart believing in humanity alone without making any distinction in favor of worldly and fleeting things. A Message of Goodness and Unforgettable for me. Man proposes what he/would like to have, God Executes.

Regards!
Fithalew

 

Dear ALWS, ​

I am speechless. This is just so thoughtful, so touching and so beautifully done. Knowing that people far away from Ethiopia, are thinking of us at these difficult times means so much. ​

​This is even more special, because during such crises, we forget that staff are also affected, and we push them to the brink, pushing them to respond to this crisis and that crisis ad infinitum, putting the affected populations first.

These are not only words of encouragement, but they are also THERAPY! ​

​I will share with all staff. Please convey our deepest thanks to all. ​

​Thank you for supporting us morally, spiritually and financially. Thank you for your great sense of partnership. ​

​On behalf of LWF Ethiopia Team, Sophie ​ 

 I hope this encourages you as you work side by side with Miina and Fithalew and Abdelkadar and Sophie in Ethiopia …

… as we stick together to serve the people of Ethiopia, who can feel so forgotten by the world. Your commitment, lived out in your kindness, is why you are a blessing ALWayS!

PS: If you’d like to join me in singing the rest of the Collingwood theme song, you are most welcome:

Good old Collingwood forever
They know how to play the game.
Side by side they stick together,
To uphold The Magpies name.
See the barrackers are shouting,
As all barrackers should.
For the premiership’s a cakewalk,
For the good old Collingwood!

One more time? No? OK! 😊

 

 


HOPE Spot #40: Despite everything…

Thursday 28 September 2023

I have a message for you from the Dad of one of the families you help in Ethiopia through ALWS and our partner LWF.

When Takele’s house was burned down, his cattle killed, and all the family’s property destroyed, the family was forced to flee. Takele says:

“It was a nightmarish scene of screaming, and crying of children, of cattle in distress, too sad to remember.

My youngest still suffers from trauma.

What is most painful is that my children do not have access to education because of lack of materials.

I tried to engage in daily labour in order to buy food, and pay rent, but I can’t afford to keep sending my two children to school.

It was all too distressing.”

It can be easy to lose hope when you see people suffering as much as Takele’s family has, and when the security situation is still challenging (see below) …

 

… yet I have two messages of hope to share with you that I pray lift your spirits.

 

MESSAGE OF HOPE – 1

First, in August when I shared with ALWS supporters like you, the crisis in Ethiopia …

… I invited people to send a message of encouragement to the front-line LWF team.

We received more than 100 messages,

filled with words of kindness and compassion!

These have been turned into an e-Book so each member of the LWF team can be inspired and encouraged. You can enjoy it here!

 

MESSAGE OF HOPE – 2

People like you supported Takele with three months of food + support for children to go to school + cash-for-rent assistance + support to grow a vegetable garden + training in environmental sanitation…

… and you can see how hope can be restored when you hear Takele say:

“Currently we are receiving aid … what we really wish

is to get additional support so we could

work on a small business and garden farming,

so we can rebuild our shattered lives.

 

Despite everything, as Christians

we forgive what was done to us.”

 

Hold on to that hope as you read the latest report (22/9) from Sophie Gebreyes, who heads the LWF team in Ethiopia. Things are tough …

AMHARA

The security situation in the North has severely deteriorated. There is a partial blackout with communications. Violent conflicts occur daily in almost all zones, with mounting casualties from heavy drone strikes and artillery fire.  

Civilians caught in the cross-fire are fleeing en masse, adding to already high displacement caseloads in the country since 2016 from conflict, droughts, and floods.

Humanitarian access is heavily restricted, and most operations are dramatically reduced or suspended. For LWF, this has meant the suspension of projects in the Kumer Refugee Camp for Sudanese and other refugees fleeing the war in neighbouring Sudan.

The Climate Resilience Project in Lalibela is also suspended, and staff have had to continually relocate due to the high volatility of the security situation.

TIGRAY

Malnutrition rates are skyrocketing, especially amongst children under five. 

1.7 million of school children have been out of school for the past three academic years, representing 77% of the total 2.3 million school children in Tigray.

90% of school infrastructure have been damaged. 80% of the regional health system is incapacitated. Health staff have gone unpaid for 20 months.

SUDAN CRISIS

35,770 people have entered Ethiopia so far, mostly Sudanese (71%), Eritreans and Ethiopian returnees. The majority (over 52.4%) are entering Ethiopia via the Metema Entry Point, which unfortunately is located in the conflict zone. Restrictions mean services cannot be met in the refugee camp and reception centres. A cholera outbreak has killed 9 people among 400 detected cases.

EL NINO THREAT

Ethiopia is facing above average rainfall in the south and west, causing heavy floods. In the cereal-growing central highlands, rainfall is below normal. There is major concern on food security as we approach the meher harvest season starting in October.  

Making a bad situation worse, in August, small immature swarms of locusts were sighted, and a total of 395 hectares of land required treatment.

HAS THE WORLD FORGOTTEN ETHIOPIA?

Amnesty International this week stated that Ethiopia is at a dangerous precipice. It called for the second renewal of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia’s mandate, concluding that ‘it is not the time to lower the accountability bar on Ethiopia’.

The Ethiopian Humanitarian Response Plan targets more than 20 million people for food aid, and close to 5 million people for non-food assistance.

Only 27% of the total plan requested is currently funded, leaving a huge funding gap and mounting needs.  

The little visibility of this devastating conflict in international media – and in the halls of humanitarian decision-making – is of great concern to us.

Sophie

 

Thank you for taking the time to read that tough update.

ALWS is continuing to support the LWF team in Ethiopia, so as soon as it is safe to get aid into the danger areas, the team can.

You are welcome to donate here to reach out to the people who so desperately need us …

… or to be inspired by the Messages of Hope e-Book we are sending to the team, filled with messages of kindness and compassion like this one:

Thank you – you are a blessing ALWayS!

PS: I just received this message back from Sophie in Ethiopia, after we sent her the e-Book of Messages of Hope: 

Dear ALWS, 

I am speechless. This is just so thoughtful, so touching and so beautifully done. Knowing that people far away from Ethiopia, are thinking of us at these difficult times means so much. 

This is even more special because during such crises we can forget that staff are also affected, and push them to the brink, pushing them to respond to this crisis and that crisis ad infinitum, putting the affected populations first. These are not only words of encouragement, but they are also THERAPY! 

I will share with all staff. Please convey our deepest thanks to all. 

Thank you for supporting us morally, spiritually and financially. Thank you for your great sense of partnership. 

On behalf of LWF Ethiopia Team,

Sophie 

 

 All photos: LWF / 2023


HOPE Spot #39: When the earth quakes …

Friday 15 September 2023

in this last fortnight we’ve seen tragedies:

• the flooding from the dam collapse in Libya, that has left 11,300 people dead

• earthquake in Morocco that killed 2,900 people, injured 2,500, and left thousands homeless

You may wonder why ALWS has not launched appeals to respond to these disasters. There are two reasons:

1. We are not confident we could get your aid safely to either region.

2. Our focus is getting your help into areas in danger of being forgotten by the world:
– conflict in Ethiopia
– Displaced Persons Camps in Myanmar
– refugees fleeing the crisis in Sudan

 

Your ALWS action does continue to help survivors of the Turkiye / Syria earthquake in February.

Your help has a special focus in Za’atari Refugee Camp, where you work through our partner LWF Jordan.

You support supply of household essentials to the most needy families, as you can see in the photo.

You also play a special role in helping children recover from trauma, by supporting dedicated caregivers in LWF community centres to provide early childhood development services:

Photos: LWF Jordan

 

You provide special support to women survivors by raising their awareness on

critical issues around safety and recovery:

 

 

You even support recreational activities to keep up spirits inside the camp.

The LWF Women’s Soccer Team you see here aren’t quite the Matildas, but they did win their final:

 

You and I know the earth will continue to ‘quake’ …

… whether through natural disasters, or human conflict, or simply a world that turns its eyes away from those in need.

That’s why your kindness and compassion are such precious gifts to the people you see here. Each day of care they receive from the LWF team you support is another day they know they are loved, and not forgotten. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

PS: The earth ‘quaked’ for us in a deeply sad way here at ALWS last week.

Our friend and colleague, Russell Noske, passed away suddenly, and went in faith to his heavenly home.

Russell worked quietly and steadfastly behind the scenes in ensuring safe financial transfers of your ALWS support, running our Farmers for Farmers program, and taking care of finances.

We miss Russell deeply and will celebrate his life with his family at a Memorial Service on Monday.

 


HOPE Spot #38: Friday 15 September 2023

Kicking on with Aliir Aliir at ABC

It’s AFL footy finals, and Aliir Aliir is one of the league’s stars, leading the backline of Port Power.

ALWS was blessed to have Aliir join our Ambassador Boot Camp (ABC).

Aliir shared the story of his journey from Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where you work through ALWS, to the big league.

Let me share some of those stories with you:

 

LIFE AT KAKUMA REFUGEE CAMP

 “When you’re born in a refugee camp, it’s all you know. My strongest memory is of always being with family.

Because I was just a kid then, I actually have great memories of the camp – I just played sport all day with my cousins and friends. I was a kid, man, I enjoyed life!

When I was in the camp, sometimes I’d sit in a tree and imagine I had a bike. There were other times we got lost, we were so busy running around having fun!

We’d make our own soccer ball in the camp. We’d get a medic’s glove, and blow it up, then wrap clothes around it. We had to make spares because someone would always kick it in the bushes and we’d lose it.

We didn’t have much, but we had family.”

 

AUSTRALIA, AGE 9

 “Coming to Australia, everything was different. Everyone had a different skin colour. I thought where are we? Are we on a new planet?

For you as a migrant, you just want to feel welcomed.

I’d see kids playing soccer, and I’d go over to them, step by step, until I could join in. They’d invite me to their house, and that made me want to learn English so I could join in their jokes.

All the kids who come, the goal is to study, to get a good job, so you can help the parents who got you here.

We were kicked out of our home in South Sudan, so essentially we’re looking for a new home.”

 

GETTING INTO AFL

“My mum used to say she didn’t bring me here to play sport, but to study. Now she knows you can make a living from sport.

I was inspired to take up AFL by Nic Nat. I just wanted to take speccies like him.

I had to learn to be professional, rather than just go with the flow. I needed to learn you had to work hard, you couldn’t just rely on natural talent. I was hard on myself when I was young, but I know now it’s all about trying to get better.

When I joined the Swans, Adam Goodes was my mentor. He taught me to pull my head in. He’d say I needed to create my own legacy – but not forget who you are, and the people who got you here, your family, your culture.

I think sport has the ability to connect people, in ways you don’t always understand.

We play it for fun, but there’s a bigger purpose, to bring people together. That’s why I want to set up a sports academy to help kids who might otherwise miss out.”

 

LOOKING AHEAD

“Sometimes I feel I’m not supposed to be here, doing what I’m doing. I’m one of the lucky ones. 

I want to live my life to do whatever I can for my mum.

You’ve always got to look after your family, no matter what. Now I have my own child, I really know what I’m here for. You may only get two hours sleep a night, but it’s worth it.

If someone makes you feel welcome, I know what it means. I don’t see people as refugees. I don’t use that word. These are simply people who don’t have a home.

My favourite word is gratitude. I’ve always been the one to be grateful for the life I have.”

 

Thank you for all you do through ALWS to support children to go to school at Kakuma Refugee Camp, where Aliir was born and grew up.

Along with the children you support at Dadaab Refugee Camp.

And in Somalia.

Even inside Displaced Persons Camps in Myanmar.

Making sure children with disabilities aren’t forgotten.

Who knows what the child you help today will ‘kick on’ to do tomorrow!

PS: Of course, after Aliir shared so generously with the teachers and Principals at ABC

… I felt I should offer to share with Aliir some of my best footy tips.

Basically, you can beat anyone, but don’t beat Collingwood. 

I don’t think he listened.

 

 

 

 


HOPE Spot #37: Monday 11 September 2023

Sudan Crisis – your update from front line

Today I bring you updates from South Sudan and Ethiopia, where your ALWS action is welcoming people fleeing the crisis in Sudan. 

The world may have forgotten these people … 

… but through ALWS, and our partner Lutheran World Federation (LWF), you are right there where you are needed most.   

While the challenges remain, there is good news on the impact being made! 

 

SOUTH SUDAN – Mika Jokivuori, Program Coordinator  

Dear ALWS, 

Greetings from Renk, South Sudan. 

I have just returned from visiting Renk, where I saw with my own eyes how dire the situation is. The good news is work continues to provide community-based support for returning South Sudanese, and transport to Juba for the most vulnerable households. 

More than 200,000 people have come to South Sudan and it is expected to continue as no sign of holding peace in Sudan.  

LWF is committed to continue to provide our much-needed service. We have been requested by both the government and UN to provide flight service for the most vulnerable households, as living conditions in Renk is not suitable for them, especially during the rainy season that is starting soon. 

I would like to thank you all of you for your support, and would like to request you continue your help as needs are still here. 

Yours, 

Mika 

 

I’ve put together an update of your front-line work in Renk last week. I think you will be especially interested in the activities that focus on children: UPDATE 8 

You are also welcome to donate to support the in-faith commitment of $100,000 ALWS has made to support this life-saving action. DONATE NOW 

 

ETHIOPIA – Endeshaw Mulatu, Program Coordinator  

Dear ALWS, 

I am writing this to give you updates about the security situation in the project location of Lasta and Lalibela woredas in the Amhara region.  

After the last update we shared, the good news is the security situation looks calm, as there is no fighting at the moment. The government has announced it is taking all the necessary measures to control the situation fully.  

Government offices are open and services such as banks are operating in Lalibela.  

Ethiopian Airlines has resumed the daily flight to Lalibela.  

The only uncertainty at the moment is travelling to the rural areas located far from Lalibela which are still regarded as unsafe.  

Despite the existing security situation, LWF has been carrying out all the preparatory activities, such as recruitment of staff, anticipating start of project implementation on 1 September 2023.  

Kind regards.  

Endeshaw  

This improvement in the security situation in Amhara in Ethiopia is an answer to prayer! 

You can support this lifesaving work here. 

 

THANK YOU!  

Through ALWS, you work in some of the toughest places on earth.

We can never expect it will be easy, nor that all dangers can be removed. However, please know that the safety of the front-line staff you support is prioritised.

Your kindness and generosity are the reason ALWS can step out in faith to help people the world has forgotten. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS! Thank you! 

PS: Last week ALWS held our first-ever Ambassadors Boot Camp – ABC – to equip leaders from Lutheran schools in South Australia to inspire their students to join in ALWS action, just like you. I will give you a full report in my next HOPE Spot. (I may even share some of the football tips I gave our guest speaker, Aliir Aliir, as his team Port Power start their finals campaign!!! 😊) 

Important Information

You help with practical care

Your donation will support the 23/24 ALWS commitment of $100,000 to South Sudan, and $100,000 to Ethiopia, to care for refugees fleeing Sudan. Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed for this project, any extra will be used for ALWS development work in Ethiopia – commitment $365,000.  

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 2022, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 15.4%. The 5 year average is also 15.4%. A copy of the 2022 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 alws@alws.org.au

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

 

HOPE Spot #36: Tuesday 5 September 2023

The ABC of Aliir Aliir

September is a very hard time of year for me.

As I have shared with you (six or seven hundred times!), I support Collingwood in the AFL.

This season we finished top of the ladder …

… which you may think is a good thing.

However, all Collingwood supporters know that this simply means we have further to fall. Sigh ☹.

Also in the Finals are Port Adelaide, along with star defender, Aliir Aliir.

While no doubt Aliir’s coach would like him

to be fully focused on finals, this Thursday morning he won’t be.

Instead, Aliir will be busy with ABC.

No, not the TV station.

And no, not the alphabet.

This ABC is the first ever ALWS Ambassadors Boot Camp!

39 teachers and Principals from across South Australia …

       … representing 18 Lutheran schools

       … and nearly 8,000 students

       … and the 16,000 parents of those students

       … will gather for two days of being equipped, inspired and challenged to be Ambassadors for ALWS in their schools

       … working to recruit young people and teachers to join you in the life-changing work you already do through ALWS!

Aliir Aliir is one of our keynote speakers.

He will share about life growing up at Kakuma Refugee Camp, where he was born and where he developed his natural sporting talent and skills …

… and where you play such an active role supporting children to go to school, welcoming new arrivals, making sure people with extra needs aren’t forgotten …

… and even running activities like basketball, volleyball and soccer to help give young people a purpose and outlet for their energy!

Photo: LWF Kenya

You can find out more about our Adelaide ALWS ABC here

… and, if prayer is a ministry of yours, that support is welcomed too!

Our aim is that ALWS ABC will lead many young people to join you, as you…

help people fleeing the crisis in Sudan to Ethiopia and South Sudan donate now

support refugee children to go to school through ALWS Walk My Way:

  • Victory & Wodonga – Bonegilla Migrant Centre, Saturday 14 October Find out more
  • Melbourne – Luther College, Croydon, Saturday 21 October Find out more
  • North Adelaide – led by LLL, Saturday 21 October Find out more

 bring kindness and love where you are needed most.

When we do this together, even Collingwood supporters like me can be a winner!

(If only finals games were as simple as ABC 😊!)

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

PS: ALWS is very thankful to the generous sponsors whose commitment to Lutheran education and ALWS service has enabled ALWS to offer ABC free!

 

 

 

Important Information

You help with practical care

Your donation will support the 23/24 ALWS commitment to Ethiopia of $365,000, plus $100,000 to care for refugees fleeing Sudan. Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed for this project, any extra will be used for other ALWS-supported development projects.

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

Being careful with your care

In 2022, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 15.4%. The 5 year average is also 15.4%. A copy of the 2022 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 alws@alws.org.au

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

 

HOPE Spot #35: Wednesday 30 August 2023

Working for you here at ALWS, I sometimes feel like I am in two worlds.

There is the world of life-threatening challenges, as we face now taking your ALWS action into Ethiopia, where families in Amhara Region are threatened by conflict.

At the same time, there is the world of kindness and compassion I’m privileged to see in the generosity of people like you …

… and the actions of communities in events like ALWS Walk My Way (more on that later).

Working to bridge the gap between those two worlds, ALWS strives to meet the highest standards of professional action. That’s why I want to share good news from ACFID (Australian Council for International Development) about your ALWS action:


This simply means that you can be confident your generosity is in safe hands, reaches the people you want to help, and provides the help needed most.

At the same time, ALWS also works hard to make your donations work hard – the ‘overheads’ rate over the last 5 years averages just 15.4%.

(‘Overheads’ are fundraising and administration costs according to the ACFID Code of Conduct.)

Please know you are always welcome to ask questions:

  • Reply to this email, or call 1300 763 407
  • Check the Annual Report
  • Invite an ALWS Guest Speaker

UPDATE: CAN DO meeting with Australian Government

You might remember a couple of weeks back I asked for prayer support for a meeting that ALWS, along with a team from CAN DO (Church Agency Network Disaster Operations), was having with the Australian Government.

Leah Odongo, our ALWS Programs Director, was part of a larger delegation that met with 43 politicians, including Senator David Pocock. (See photo below – Leah is on the right.)

The team also met with the Honourable Pat Conroy, Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

Leah said she felt there was a real open door from all the politicians, across all sides of the Parliament, and that it was a wonderful opportunity to show them the unity of the church.

Leah felt this openness in a way she had not experienced before, and puts this down to the power of prayer support. She also told us:

“There are many ordinary people

planted in different places

who have a passion for compassion.”

And that included in Parliament in Canberra!

You’re one of those people with a passion for compassion …

… and your ALWS team are humbled to work with you in bringing your compassion to people who are vulnerable, and feel forgotten by the world.

That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS!

PS: Your ALWS action is precious for people in the Amhara Region in Ethiopia donate here

 … and you are also welcome to join ALWS Walk My Way to help children in refugee camps go to school:

  • Aberfoyle Park (SA) – Saturday 2 September Find out more
  • Victory & Wodonga – Bonegilla Migrant Centre, Saturday 14 October Find out more
  • Melbourne – Luther College, Croydon, Saturday 21 October Find out more
  • North Adelaide – led by LLL, Saturday 21 October Find out more

Important Information

You help with practical care

Your donation will support the 23/24 ALWS commitment to Ethiopia of $365,000, plus $100,000 to care for refugees fleeing Sudan. Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed for this project, any extra will be used for other ALWS-supported development projects.

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

Being careful with your care

In 2022, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 15.4%. The 5 year average is also 15.4%. A copy of the 2022 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 alws@alws.org.au

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

 

HOPE Spot #34: Thursday 24 August 2023

What you sow …

 

A couple of weeks ago ALWS held an Asante* event at Loxton in the Riverland of South Australia.

In the main street was a procession of signs sharing the history of the region. That’s where I came across the sign you see above. The photo is from 1914.

What struck me is that what you see there – a farmer scattering seed by hand in soil ploughed by a horse-drawn team …

 

… is exactly how farmers in Ethiopia plant their land now. 

 

More than a century later. 

(The only difference is they use oxen instead of horses.)

 

What makes things worse is they have suffered five years of drought … and now floods. 

No wonder farmers struggle to grow enough to feed their families and suffer a ‘Hunger Gap’ of up to six months each year. 

In times past, wheat could be imported from Ukraine and Russia, but Russia’s blockades have stopped that.


All this is why ALWS is now taking your support into Ethiopia.

Donate Now

 

Our plan is to equip 223 farming families in Amhara Region with improved grain varieties, irrigation and training in modern farming methods …

… so they can achieve the same success farmer Amare Mulaw has achieved with a new corn seed variety called ‘Lutheran’. True!

Photo: LWF / OCS

A CORN CALLED ‘LUTHERAN’

“The ‘Lutheran’ changed my life,” says Amare Mulaw. 

The Ethiopian farmer is speaking about the benefits of a new crop variety introduced by the LWF team you support in Ethiopia.
 
Amare is happy to explain why the ‘Lutheran’ seed has become popular:

“To start with, it has a superior taste. Secondly, the corn stalk holds three large cobs, whereas previous varieties only hold one or two small ones, maximum. 

“Furthermore, due to the leafiness and thickness of the cob cover, it does not get attacked by birds and pests. I now get twice the amount for one cob.

“Finally, the extra two months that Lutheran takes to grow is worth the wait due to the size, yield, taste, overall quality and potential for commercialisation.”

Amare says he has tripled
his income by using ‘Lutheran’!

Amare has used his increased income to improve his house and send his children to school. He now plans to buy a bajaj, Amharic for tuk-tuk – the most affordable transport here.

This is the benefit you can bring to a farming family in Ethiopia too.

Donate now

 

Just like the Loxton farmer in 1914, and the Ethiopian farmers, this will be hard work. Conflict in the Amhara region is bringing challenges for the LWF team you support …

… however, it is precisely when things are hard that your help matters most!

 

It reminds me of Jesus talking to His followers:

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, 
to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Luke 10:2 (NIV)

 

The map below shows the ‘harvest field’ where ALWS has committed to helping farmers …

You can find out more about the project here. You’re also welcome to donate to help a farming family. 

Amare sums up very simply the impact of your help through ALWS and the LWF team you support in Ethiopia:

“My life has changed!”

 

Thank you for sowing the seeds of hope for farmers and families struggling to survive in places where they can easily feel forgotten. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS!

 

* Asante is Swahili for ‘Thank you’. An ALWS Asante Event is where we come to your community and share with you stories and facts about the work you do through ALWS – with some hospitality afterwards! You’re welcome to invite ALWS – simply call 1300 763 407

 


HOPE Spot #33: Friday 18 August 2023

When little steps are a big step…

10 kilometres is a long way to walk when your legs are little.

Yet 18 months old Zuri was very keen to join the ALWS Walk My Way at his family’s church – Redeemer Lutheran in Rochedale Queensland.

Zuri stepped out with 80 others – 18 months to 80 years – walking from church to Daisy Hill Conservation Park …

… so children in Myanmar could step in to school

… and find hope inside the Displaced Persons Camp where they’d been forced to live.

Thanks to the efforts of the Redeemer team, a school washed away by Cyclone Mocha can be rebuilt and fitted out with learning materials.

That’s a big step to a better future.

Meanwhile, 1,825 kilometres south-west (two million steps!!!), the 170 students and their teachers at Loxton Lutheran Primary School turned their ALWS Walk My Way into a whole day!

Their goal?

To raise enough money to support 170 children in Myanmar to go to school to match the number of children in school at Loxton. ($32 supports one child)

The fun kicked off with chapel, then the walking began:

  • the littlies walked for 32 minutes
  • Years 1 – 4 walked four kilometres
  • Years 5 – 6 walked eight kilometres

Then it was time to do activities to learn more about the children they were helping in Myanmar (see ALWS School Resources):

The activities included making animals representing those that would help families in Myanmar. What do you recognise:

(Cow, pig, chicken.)

Then it was everyone on their feet for a 32 minute Dance-athon …

After all that, it was time for a snack …

… with everything donated by local Loxton businesses!

Tummies full, students spent their pocket-money at stalls where students sold items they made  …

… from Jelly Cakes to Christmas Cards to Beaded Goods

… along with the chance to have some fun tossing bean bags at teachers, whose passion and energy and enthusiasm and care for their students led them to jump in feet-first:

GOOD NEWS!

More ALWS Walk My Way‘s are happening across Australia:

… and other walks from Wodonga to Queensland. you can donate, join, sponsor a walker or volunteer to help, have a look on the Walk My Way website…

Plans are also underway for an ALWS Walk My Way in Brisbane on 20 April 2024!

Thank you for all the steps you take to help people through ALWS. Whether your steps are big or little, every step we take together brings us closer to these smiles from Loxton in South Australia and Rakhine State in Myanmar …

… that’s why you are a blessing ALWayS! Thank you!

Photos: ALWS

 

HOPE Spot #32: Wednesday 9 August 2023

What are you doing at 11am tomorrow (AEST)?

I’ve shared with you before how ALWS works to s t r e t c h the impact of your kindness by accessing matching grants.

Already this year we’ve had 18:1 for Somalia from partners in Europe and the US …

… and 5:1 from the Australian Government for your ALWS work in Myanmar.

The Australian Government also provides money to aid agencies for emergency responses after disasters – like the Turkiye Syria earthquake earlier this year.

This is called the Australian Humanitarian Program (AHP).

ALWS has joined with other church aid agencies in a partnership called CAN-DO (Church Agencies Network – Disaster Operations).

Together we ‘bid’ for grants from the AHP, so we can extend your impact through ALWS.

CAN DO has strong trusted networks through local churches in hard-to-reach places – like highland villages of PNG, challenging places like Afghanistan, dangerous places like Myanmar.

AHP grants to CAN DO can build on the wonderful support ALWS already has from the Australian Government through their 5:1 Grant Program.

(ALWS 5:1 grants increased by 12% this year, thanks to the generosity of people like you.)

 

 

A good example of the impact you and I can have with AHP Grants through the CAN DO Network is what we have achieved together in Bangladesh for Rohingya refugees.

Last year alone, 115,828 people were helped, through work that included:

  • 2,935 families received blankets for winter
  • employing refugees with disability to plant 103,870 tree seedlings to restore the environment, and provide families with an income (see photo below)
  • 2,445 people supported to start small businesses
  • drains cleaned and sprayed to protect people from disease and malaria

Photo: LWF / RDRS Bangladesh

All this is why I ask what you’re doing at 11am tomorrow (Thursday) AEST.

That’s when a delegation from CAN DO, will be meeting Sophie Wilkinson, the Chair of DFAT’s Submission Appraisal Panel, to discuss how the CAN DO Network can do more with the Australian Government and AHP. (DFAT: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Leah Odongo (photo), our Program Director here at ALWS, will be part of that delegation as they:

  • present the unique impact CAN DO has in reaching people in danger of being forgotten
  • offer evidence of the quality of CAN DO work from activation results analysis
  • share the passion and commitment of churches to serve the poor, despite the challenges

Photo: ALWS

We truly believe there is more we can do together to serve the poor.

(If Australia’s wealth is represented as a $100 note,
our overseas aid is a 20 cents piece!)

That’s why, when 11am AEST comes around tomorrow, I’m going to stop work on the computer …

… and go to work in prayer that the delegation has a successful meeting with Sophie.

If prayer is one of your personal ministries …

… please add your voice, wherever you are.

If you prefer, you can raise your voice …

… by contacting your local Federal MP
and telling them you believe Australia
can afford to be more generous. This will
support DFAT efforts to do the same!

Whatever you CAN DO as you set your alarm for 11am, don’t be ‘alarmed’ – you are a blessing ALWayS. Thank you!

PS: I know this is different to a normal HOPE Spot, so feel free to email back if you have a question or a comment. I’ll do my best to help you.

 

HOPE Spot #31: Friday 4 August 2023

You don’t have to kick a goal to be a winner

How good has it been watching the Matildas boot in goals in the Women’s World Cup!

(If only the Collingwood forward line could be as accurate!)

You might be surprised to know that football / soccer is one of the ways you care for children forced to flee the crisis in Sudan!

As you’d expect, children can suffer worst in a crisis like this.

There is the physical hurt of malnutrition, exhaustion and currently a Measles outbreak.

Just as damaging is the psychosocial pain of seeing people hurt and killed, houses burned, military attacking.

Through ALWS, you provide specialised care for children at Renk in South Sudan, where refugees cross the border out of Sudan.

Your help includes games like:

  • Playing football
  • Skipping rope
  • Colouring-in
  • Playing Ludo
  • Dancing
  • Singing

 

In the photo, you can see the smiling welcome the LWF team you support gives children!

 

You provide a range of other specialised care for child refugees, including: 

  • Facilitated psychosocial activities (indoor and outdoor games) for a total number of 849 children (450 girls, 399 Boys) at the Transit Centre
  • Shelter-to-shelter child protection awareness-raising this week reached 883 people, including 307 girls, 228 women, 237 boys and 111 men
  • Key messages on dangers of harmful practices like physical abuse, child neglect and available services for children and care-givers
  • Focus group psychosocial support sessions for 15 female-headed households:

– identify psychological problem in children during emergency

– how to support children with psychological problem

– where to get support

– importance of positive disciplining to the caregivers’ mental well-being

You can see an extended report on your work at Renk in South Sudan in your Update 7.

 

ALWS has committed in-faith $100,000 to this emergency action here in South Sudan, and a further $100,000 to work on the border in Ethiopia, also welcoming refugees from the Sudan crisis. You are welcome to donate here.

As Australia welcomes the world to our home for the Women’s World Cup …

… I thank you for what you do through ALWS to welcome refugees fleeing the crisis in Sudan. You are kicking goals. That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS! Go Matildas!

PS: You’re always welcome to invite an ALWS Guest Speaker to your church, fellowship group, school, Probus, Rotary – just reply to this email or call Amanda on 1300 763 407, and we’ll do our best to make it happen! Don’t forget Update 7!

Photo: LWF South Sudan


HOPE Spot #30: Friday 28 July 2023

This is something I never thought I’d talk to you about.

What’s less than 2mm long? Lays two eggs every 3 days?

And causes fast weight loss in sheep?

Lice.

Commonly known as ‘Chewing Lice’.

Such a tiny thing … but it’s estimated to cost Australia’s sheep industry more than $120 million each year.

You may (I hope) know as little about this subject as I do.

But last week, driving to Melbourne to present at an ALWS Asante*, I was lucky enough to hunt down a city-style coffee in a trying-not-to-die country town.

Inside the café was a crowd of farmers.

Lots of flanny shirts. Scuffed elastic-sided boots. And the best collection of beanies and battered hats you’d find anywhere.

The farmers were there for a seminar on … wait for it …

The first ever oral
lice treatment
for sheep

If you’re city like me, you might go ‘Huh?’

Yet, when I listened in on the farmers talking, I learned how important this new product could be. For the health of the sheep. For family profits. For stopping the spread of lice.

But that’s not what I wanted to share with you.

What really struck me was how clear and direct the title of the seminar was.

No fancy advertising. No clever gimmicks. No tricky ways to get you in.

Just:

               Here’s the problem …
                   … and here’s how you can fix it.

That’s exactly what I try to do for you here at ALWS.

Show you a need in the world that you can help fix. Give you the facts. Explain why you are needed, and exactly what you can do.

As much as I can, I try to step back and let the person you can help tell you why you are important.

That’s what we did early this year when the devastating earthquake hit Turkiye and Syria.

You saw the need on the TV news, and the information I sent you …

… and then people like you gave lifesaving aid with amazing generosity through ALWS.

Today, I’m pleased to share with you the 3 month report of your ALWS action alongside other Australian aid agencies through the Emergency Action Alliance. See attached report below.

Your ALWS action is delivered through our partner LWF Jordan, working in a coalition of churches of many denominations from around the world through the ACT Alliance.

As you read the report, you’ll see there is work still to be done …

… but you’ll also see that while the world’s media may have forgotten the people hurt by this crisis

… you are still there, humbly helping those who are hurting.

On behalf of each person who benefits from your kindness through ALWS, thank you!

Whether you help after natural disasters like the Turkiye / Syria earthquake …

… or use Matching Grants, like our 18:1 for Somalia, or 5:1 for Myanmar

… or dedicate a gift in your Will through Lives you touch

… you are a blessing. ALWayS.

And that’s no ‘lice’. Thank you!

PS: * Asante is the Swahili word for ‘Thank you’. It’s the name we give our events when we come to your community and show you your ALWS work. You’re welcome to invite us – just give us a call  1300 763 407. You can see more reports of your work through ALWS:

2022 Annual Report

2023 Mid-Year Report Back

EAA Turkiye Syria 3 Month Report

Turkiye Syria 3 Month Report Final

 

HOPE Spot #29: Friday 21 July 2023

If you’ve been watching the Tour de France, you’ll see carloads of bicycle mechanics chasing after the cyclists flying across the stunning French countryside. 

Abdulaziz is a bicycle mechanic … 

… but the only thing he is chasing, is safety. 

Abdulaziz is one of the people fleeing conflict in Sudan, who you help through ALWS. 

Abdulaziz has no family, but before the conflict he lived an independent life, with his own business as a bicycle mechanic. He never had formal training, but simply used his natural skills and learned on the job. 

He laughs when he shares that he earns more than people without disability! 

Abdulaziz had to flee Khartoum a month ago, on 18 June. 

It took him five days to travel 569 kilometres to the border town of Metema in Ethiopia. (This is where the LWF team you support through ALWS meets and welcomes refugees.) 

Normally this trip would only take a day, but Abdulaziz and other refugees faced many challenges: 

  • multiple armed checkpoints 
  • soldiers confiscating items from refugees 
  • refugees having to pay bribes to be allowed to cross 
  • people killed 
  • others giving up everything, and still being turned back 

Abdulaziz was not spared. 

All his belongings were taken. He showed your LWF team scars on his face and his hands. He does not know what happened to his relatives. He has nothing. 

“The war in my country has done  

what disability did not do in my life.  

I cannot imagine sitting here  

and waiting for food from someone else.” 

Abdulaziz spent four days at the entry point to Ethiopia before he could be relocated to Kumer Refugee Camp, 70 kilometres away in Amhara region in Ethiopia. 

Like all the other refugees, he is totally dependent on help from others for food, shelter and other basic needs. 

Because he has an impairment, Abdulaziz is even more vulnerable. 

“I have never depended on anyone  

since I was an adult. 

I must now say that I am unable,  

and need help.” 

That’s where you step in.

The kindness and generosity of people like you means ALWS has been able to commit in-faith $100,000 to the emergency aid effort here in Ethiopia.

(A further $100,000 has been provided to support the LWF team in South Sudan to also care for refugees fleeing the crisis in Sudan.) 

You are welcome to donate to support this emergency effort. 

You will provide cash grants and the practical essentials that refugees like Abdulaziz need most … 

… along with the love and care you see here as Charles Masanga, LWF Senior Humanitarian Manager in Ethiopia, welcomes Abdulaziz. 

Thank you for helping make sure refugees like Abdulaziz are not forgotten … 

… and offering support with the ‘mechanics’ that will help them rebuild their lives. 

That’s why you are a blessing ALWayS! 

Photos: LWF Ethiopia, July 2023.  

Interview and story: Charles Masanga, Sophie Gebrayes, LWF Ethiopia 

 

 

HOPE Spot #28: Friday 14 July 2023

It’s my birthday today …

… and to celebrate I’m seeing the latest Mission Impossible movie.

Sometimes the work you and I do here together at ALWS feels like ‘Mission Impossible’ too.

War in Ukraine. Military junta in Myanmar. Terror groups in Somalia.

Climate crisis in Horn of Africa.

Earthquake in Turkiye / Syria.

The good thing about your ALWS action is you don’t to have to be a Tom Cruise, performing your own stunts.

(In fact, it’s fine to be an 80 year-old, like Harrison Ford in the latest ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ movies.)

Photos like this of Daryna (in Ukrainian this means ‘God’s gift’), being cared for in a Lutheran Church Crisis Centre in Poland …

… show the impact you make on people’s lives simply through your love and kindness.

Thanks to people like you, working through ALWS, Daryna is safe and secure and being supported to build skills and find joy, as she waits for whatever happens next in her life.

(Its hard to see in the picture but Daryna drew her smiling flower with braces on its teeth. That’s because the LWF team member helping her had braces!)

You can see more of your ALWS action impact here:

You will see the people you help, the aid you provided, the hope you restored.

Importantly, your help continues for people hurt by disasters the world seems to have forgotten – like the Turkiye/Syria earthquake.

Thanks to ALWS membership in alliances like ACT Alliance (churches of many denominations from around the world) and Emergency Action Alliance (Australian aid agencies), your ALWS action continues long after the world’s media attention has moved on.

In the photo below, you see our ALWS partner LWF at work in Aleppo in Syria …

Photo: LWF Syria

You may not think of yourself as an Action Hero like Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford or an Aid Worker on the front-line…

… but for the people you help through ALWS, that’s exactly what you are.

Can we bring love to life for vulnerable people, in danger of being forgotten by the world?

Thanks to you, that is most definitely Mission POSSIBLE! ALWayS!

NB: Photo ALWS / LWF Poland – Daryna’s name has been changed to protect her safety

 

HOPE Spot #27: Friday 7 July 2023

Sometimes it’s hard work stopping myself being naughty.

I was working in the Lutheran Church office this week, and in the lunch-room I saw this …

The naughty part of me wanted to slip a piece into my pocket.

Can you imagine it? After weeks of person after person adding a piece at a time …

… they’d get to the end of the jigsaw, and there would be one piece missing.

The whole picture would be spoiled.

Naughty? More like nasty.

So, of course, I didn’t do it.

(Though I may have had a little fun pretending that I did 😊)

This puzzle was 1000 pieces, and maybe too big a task for just one person.

(Certainly for me. Especially as I’m colour-blind.)

But when you get lots of people working together, each doing their bit, piece by piece something amazing can be created!

Sometimes the challenges you and I take on through ALWS

 seem overwhelming. The big picture a puzzle.

Helping children go to school deep inside Myanmar, in Displaced Persons Camps, where a military junta puts up all kinds of barriers.

Supporting girls in Somalia stay in school, even when famine threatens … and they face the danger of being forced into early marriage to an old man … so the family can receive a dowry of livestock so they have a chance to survive.

Welcoming families in Ethiopia and South Sudan as they flee conflict in Sudan. Providing food and shelter so they can be embraced as guests.

That’s when something else I saw at the Lutheran Church office inspired me:

Churches from right across Australia have made a strip 50cm long with their name on it.

These have been sewn together into a big beautiful banner.

For me, it’s a powerful reminder that even though we are all different and individual …

… when we come together, we can do something far greater than we can do on our own.

That’s why I’m so thankful for what you do through ALWS.

Whether it’s a donation of money, the gift of prayer, giving Gifts of Grace at Christmas, joining a Walk My Way , leaving a gift in your Will through Lives you touch

… you are a vital piece of the puzzle, and the picture wouldn’t be complete without you.

So, thank you! You are a blessing ALWayS!

HOPE Spot #26: Friday 30 June 2023

Last week my wife Julie had cataract surgery.

In just a few minutes she went from someone who had worn glasses all her life …

(and was legally blind without them)

… to being someone set free to see!

Julie was a little uncertain at first. It took some getting used to. 

But as each day passes, and the soreness decreases, Julie’s joy increases.

This reminds me of Jesus healing a man who had been blind since birth (John 9).

To heal the man, Jesus spat in the dirt to make a little mud. He rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes. Then told the man to go wash it off.

When he did, the man’s sight was restored! 

You can imagine his joy – joy like that you bring into people’s lives with the work you do through ALWS.

Your work too is hands-on. 

Close-up. 

Face to face.

Person to person.

Your ‘healing’ may be porridge for a child in Somalia, and support to go to school. 

You help rebuild a Temporary Learning Space inside a Displaced Persons Camp in Myanmar, washed away by last month’s Cyclone Mocha. You re-stock books and pencils.

Your hands-on work may be getting knee-deep in mud planting mangroves in Indonesia. Growing veggie gardens and banana plantations in Burundi. Supporting people with disabilities to start a business. Empowering a woman in Nepal to lead her community.

You may kneel alongside Julie (in her pre-surgery days) as she meets 14 year old Meron at Kakuma Refugee Camp, using the braille-writer you provided, who shared:

“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.”

As we reach the end of the Financial Year, you will likely see lots of ads shouting out about  ‘tax time’ and ‘claiming benefits’ and ‘checking receipts’*.

What I hope you also see is the joy you bring
into people’s lives through your love and kindness.

Joy that looks like this:

Smiles like these are a sight for sore eyes in our confused and challenging world!

As these children in Somalia go to school for the first time, with uniforms and books and teachers and school lunches you provide …

… I thank you for bringing love to life to so many like them through ALWS, and pray you see you are a blessing ALWayS!


 
* PS: Yes, I need to give you a message about Tax Time too! 😊 

You are welcome to give a donation before 4pm today (Friday 30 June) so you can claim any tax benefit you are due this financial year

In mid-July, we will send your Annual Donation Statement, so you can easily claim your tax benefit. You also receive a Report Back on what you have achieved in people’s lives through ALWS over the last year. If you have any special requests for your Donation Statement (eg couples may wish to split their Statement), simply call us on 1300 763 407 or reply to this email. Thank you!

Photos: ALWS
 

 

How your donation is used wisely

[] You help with practical care

Your donation will be used to match the 5:1 Australian Government Grant for Myanmar. The ALWS match required is $84,500. Should ALWS receive income beyond what is needed for the ALWS match, any extra will be used to support other critical work inside Myanmar – including a $100,000 commitment of emergency aid. Any surplus beyond this supports other critical life protecting ALWS 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 2022, ALWS ‘overheads’ (fundraising and administration costs as defined by ACFID Code of Conduct) were 15.4%. The 5 year average is also 15.4%. 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 us at alws@alws.org.au.

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

 

HOPE Spot #25: Friday 23 June 2023

The theme of Refugee Week this week was ‘Finding Freedom’.

Sadly, for children like Ma Med XXX forced to live inside Displaced Persons Camps inside Myanmar, there is little freedom.

 

The current ‘political crisis’ brings new challenges, and the danger is these vulnerable children will be forgotten.

That’s why the new 5:1 Australian Government Grant
to ALWS for Myanmar is such great news!

It means your impact to support children like Ma Med XXX to go to school is SIX TIMES your donation!

School-books. Writing materials. Learning aids.

Backpack. Water bottle. Mini solar lamp.

Raincoat. Crayons. Pencil case. A complete Student Kit: $32!

The 5:1 Matching Grant means your impact is SIX TIMES your $32 donation!

You may like to donate $176 to provide a complete Teacher Kit, or support a teacher inside the camp with a wage of $131 per month.

You can even help repair a damaged Temporary Learning Space for $4,500.

The new 5:1 Australian Government Grant kicks off on 1 July, so please donate by next Friday 30 June if you can. (You can then also claim your tax benefit this financial year.)

Your open-armed kindness and compassion …

… and smart use of the Australian Government 5:1 Grant

… offers a child like Asi XXX the best chance of the freedom only education can give.

“I am in Grade 2,
and I want to be a teacher!”

Thank you for helping make sure these children in Myanmar are not forgotten.

While for now they may be forced to live behind a fence, your investment in their education today will be a blessing to them ALWayS!