Gold coin appeal
Children scramble for water at a distribution point in southern Iraq
By Chris Lindsay
The Catholic Women’s League has begun a “golden coin” drive to raise money for the innocent victims of the Iraqi conflict.
The league is asking every Australian to give just one gold coin to help ease the suffering of ordinary Iraqis, particularly women and children.
Sydney’s turn will come next month.
Already more than $4000 has been raised from just one church in Melbourne, St John’s Church, Mitcham, and “golden coin” drives are under way in schools and churches in Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Collections in Sydney diocese schools and churches will get under way next month.
“A gold coin donation may seem little to those of us who live in Australia,” says Marianne Crowe, one of the organisers of the appeal.
“But if everyone of us gave just one gold coin, we could make a substantial contribution to bringing a peaceful existence back to Iraq.”
The women of the Catholic Women’s League were inspired to take action because of particular concerns for women and children.
“We’re not an organisation that people would normally associate with this type of activity but we really wanted to do something practical towards building peace,” Mrs Crowe said.
“We know that women and children usually suffer most in a crisis such as the one in Iraq and when we researched the facts we found that many children in Iraq are now severely undernourished.
“Under the regime of Saddam Hussein, ensuring children had adequate food was not a priority.
“Now their situation is much worse.”
Mrs Crowe said she personally knew of Iraqi refugees in Australia on short term visas working in poorly paid jobs and sending $50 or $100 back to their relatives whenever they could.
“They told me the ‘pension’ in Iraq is a bag of flour and some soap to wash yourself in.” she said.
The proceeds of the Gold Coin Appeal, Women in Solidarity, will go directly to Caritas Australia, which will distribute the funds to health and nutrition programs for the vulnerable, such as women and children, and will also improve water supply within Iraq.
Care for malnourished, disabled and orphan children is one of the daily problems facing the women of Iraq.
Caritas Iraq operates centres and medical clinics throughout the country with outreach centres for those displaced by the conflict.
The national director of Caritas Australia, Jack de Groot, says the call by the women’s league for a national appeal to help women and children in Iraq secure access to safe drinking water, decent nutrition and adequate health care “is to be heeded as essential to the promotion of a culture of peace”.
It is the women of Iraq, as has been the case in so many countries, who will “foster reconciliation, justice and the desire for a peace that delivers hope for children and the community”, he said.
To make a donation to the Women in Solidarity-Gold coin appeal please send your cheque to:
Caritas Australia, 19 MacKenzie St, North Sydney, 2060; or Caritas Australia, PO Box 9830 in your capital city.
Donations can be made by telephone on: 1800 024 413.