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Caritas sets appeal sights at $6m plus


By Kathleen Carmody

Caritas Australia has raised the bar for its Project Compassion Appeal this year with its eyes set on a target above the $5.8 million raised in its Appeal in 2001.

The national director of Caritas Australia, Jack de Groot, said: "Because of the need and our continued commitment to practical almsgiving, we hope to raise over $6 million this year."

The theme of this year's appeal is A Place to Call Home.

Funds raised through Project Compassion will go towards programs in almost every developing country in the world.

These programs help poor communities develop skills to tackle poor health, nutrition and hygiene, poverty, illiteracy and environmental degradation.

This year's theme has particular resonance after bushfires in NSW destroyed more than 150 homes across the state.

And the recent earthquake in Goma has shown us in graphic detail the experience of thousands of people rendered homeless.

Jack de Groot said: "Those families in NSW who lost their houses recently must know to some degree what it's like to have that identity and history taken away from you and to try and rebuild."

"The internally displaced and refugees have little hope of having their homes returned.

"The fires are analogous with experiences of people who are displaced throughout the world, (including) the victims of the Goma volcano."

More than 17 million people throughout the world fall into the category of refugee or internally displaced person; their homes lost through disaster, conflict or poverty.

Through Project Com passion, Caritas Australia helps people in situations such as these to help build a sense of home in their community.

Mr de Groot said it was quite a challenge for most Australians to imagine being without a place to call home.

"One of the things we do for Project Compassion is invite people to tell their story of what it's like to be displaced," he said.

"It's like a rupturing of one's identity and that is pretty incredible in its destructive force because it's about security, it's about culture, it's about knowing you belong."

Project Compassion is an opportunity for Australians to demonstrate a compassion that is consistently needed throughout the world, he said.

"In many ways, the story of the refugee is incredibly challenging because it asks us to address human suffering and be very compassionate to those whose identities are being questioned, systematically oppressed and even destroyed," Mr de Groot added.

"And what we need to do is respond to that human suffering."

Donations to Project Compassion can be made by calling 1800 024 413 or you can send a cheque to Caritas Australia, GPO Box 9830 in your capital city. You can also donate through the website at www.caritas.org.au

SOURCE - ORIGINAL STORY
Catholic Weekly


30-Jan-02