published in Poverty on March 19, 2021

What is your ability?

It’s a long way from refugee camps in East Africa to a chocolate factory in the Barossa Valley … but Rachael Doecke has found a way to bring them together!

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We never thought training for this year’s Walk My Way would include eating chocolate – but we’re happy to take one (or a hundred) for the team!

Rachael, a wonderful young lady in the Barossa Valley, is making and donating chocolate with her mum Chris to encourage Walk My Way Walkers on Saturday 1 May…

…and so help more refugee children go to school!

Rachael lives with a disability caused by Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder (one in 50,000 births) that can delay development and growth, and cause seizures.

At birth, Rachael weighed only 1.3kg.

When she was diagnosed at age 3, the doctors told Chris and husband Noel that Rachael’s ‘past was her future’, as children with this disorder generally have a very short lifespan.

Rachael is proving them wrong!

Now aged 26, Rachael completed school at various Lutheran schools in the Barossa Valley.

After that, she badly wanted to get a job like everyone else, but it was a struggle to find a job that matched her skills

That’s when an elderly gentleman
(90 year old chocolatier Bryon)
gave Rachael and Chris an idea …

and recipes for the chocolate he sold
at Barossa Farmers Market, alongside their stall!

Bryon was looking to retire from his business, and suggested chocolates could become Rachael’s business. That’s where Ability Chocolates was born!

Now, Chris does the making, and Rachael does the packing, labelling and delivering. Chris explains the importance of Ability Chocolates this way:

“Everybody has ability, and sometimes we just need to find the right way to empower people to unlock that ability.

That’s why we set up Ability Chocolates, and that’s why we love the way ALWS empowers people in poor communities to start their own business – including people with disabilities.

It’s important in any business too that you give something back to the community.

That’s why we want to support Walk My Way. Rachael had the blessing of a Lutheran education, so it’s wonderful that through Walk My Way we can help refugee children have a Lutheran-supported education too.”

Chris uses their family’s nightly devotions to explain to Rachael about Walk My Way and the importance of helping refugee children going to school.

As for Rachael, she’s not only busy packing hundreds of chocolates, she’s very excited to attend the Walk My Way Breakfast & Blessing to encourage Walkers, and remind them there’s a delicious surprise waiting for them along the way!

So, what can you do to support refugee children go to school through Walk My Way?

  • Register to do Walk My Way – in whatever way suits you best
  • Give a donation – $26 supports one refugee child at school for a year
  • Volunteer – we need Traffic Marshalls, Breakfast Packers, Musicians, Cleaner-Upperers – we can find something that suits YOU * 1300 763 407

We are stepping out in faith on Saturday 1 May, after COVID-19 cancelled last year’s public Walks. Our hope is the Barossa Valley Walk My Way , and other Walk your Ways people do across the country, can support 10,000 children to step into school.

If you too, like Rachael, have the Ability to help – thank you!

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