Project Compassion is a national appeal which spans across the six weeks of Lent. During this appeal, millions of Australians come together in solidarity with the world’s poor to help end poverty, promote justice and to uphold dignity. (Caritas Australia).
The first ever appeal was in 1965. The appeal raised money for ‘self-help’ projects in countries like Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and Malaysia. The first appeal was so successful that a committee was formed to coordinate future appeals and to discuss a name for the fundraiser. Thus, ‘Project Compassion’ was born.
I remember the excitement I felt in primary school when it was time for Project Compassion. The teacher would hand out the cardboard ‘money box’ and we would take one home to set up and begin our collections (usually filling it with one and two cent coins). Of course, there would also be one set up in the classroom and the competition would be on to see which class could raise the most funds by the end of Lent. This annual practice helped myself (and, I presume, the other students) to feel the excitement and joy generated by giving. We could see that as individuals, we can make a difference. This is key in the Project Compassion program.
Caritas Australia is one of the largest aid and development organisations in Australia and part of one of the largest aide and development networks in the world (Caritas). Through Project Compassion, Caritas provide an opportunity for students to learn about life in different countries and how these people have and are being supported through Project Compassion. The personal stories shared by Caritas bring the good work being done, by each individual who has donated, right back into their world.
Take the story of Pharny from Cambodia. By becoming involved in a Caritas program, Pharny was able to contribute to helping her community to save water for gardening. Now Pharny can grow food all year and provide her family with a better way of life. Then there is Sakun, from India. Sakun suffered from polio as a child, which made it difficult for her to walk. With help from Caritas, Sakun was able to get a special hand-peddled tricycle.
Each year, Project Compassion brings people together, uniting them in their efforts to make the world a better place. The personal stories shared on the Caritas webpage aims to connect the efforts of Project Compassion with Lenten traditions. We can see how our actions can support the work of the Church through Caritas and how our own involvement can extend and strengthen our faith.
For all Project Compassion resources, head to the Caritas webpage.