Compassion for a worthy cause

Students at St John Bosco Primary School at Engadine donated $15,176.75 to Caritas for Project Compassion. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Students at St John Bosco Primary School at Engadine donated $15,176.75 to Caritas for Project Compassion. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

The students at St John Bosco Primary School at Engadine are officially one of the most generous in Australia.

With just over 800 students they donated a whopping $15,176.75 to Caritas for its 2019 annual Lenten Project Compassion appeal.

Other big money donors included De La Salle College Cronulla and St Vincent’s College Potts Point who helped reach an overall total of $3.5 million.

St John Bosco adopted many fund and awareness raising initiatives throughout the appeal including making and selling more than 1500 pancakes for Shrove Tuesday as well as various mufti days and cake baking.

The school community highlighted what a precious commodity water is to millions of people around the world and students wrote special prayers on cardboard droplets of rain asking for those in need to receive it.

Religious Education Co-Ordinator Donna Mahoney-Bennett said as service is at the heart of everything they do – raising money for Project Compassion was something that came naturally to the whole school community.

She said they were “absolutely thrilled” to have donated the most money to the appeal and said they have now set themselves a real challenge for next year.

“Our school motto is ‘Serve the Lord with Joy’ which is something our whole school just embraces,” she said.

Students at St John Bosco in Engadine wrote special prayers on cardboard droplets of rain asking for those in need to receive it. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Students at St John Bosco in Engadine wrote special prayers on cardboard droplets of rain asking for those in need to receive it. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“We aim to make a difference while helping others which is such an important quality to teach young people.

“Teaching empathy isn’t easy, it’s something the kids have to learn firsthand so learning how fortunate they are and how others have so little is very, very important.

“The students worked really hard to create community building activities that challenged our thinking and our hearts.

“The incredible fundraising effort is a fitting reminder that young people have a wonderful capacity for empathy and a thirst for justice.

“Each year we pick a theme and this year it was Always Aim High – I guess next year we’ll have to aim higher and see if we can better this year’s total.”

Project Compassion is one of the major initiatives run by Caritas, which is a Catholic Aid Agency which has grown to become one of the world’s largest humanitarian leaders.

Supported by more than 1200 parishes and 1700 schools across the country, Caritas works in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific in addition to indigenous Australia.

Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan said the whole school community at St John Bosco should be congratulated for its creativity and commitment to raising funds for Project Compassion.

Two St John Bosco students in Engadine look at special prayers written by fellow students on cardboard droplets of rain. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Two St John Bosco students in Engadine look at special prayers written by fellow students on cardboard droplets of rain. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“Project Compassion is a galvanising force in the work of Caritas Australia,” he said.

“This Lent, the theme of ‘Hope’ was the banner beneath which Catholic community organisations, schools and parishes gathered to pursue a just world, at peace and free of poverty, where all people live with dignity.

“Thank you to the Catholic school community, including teachers, students and families for their ongoing support of our work. Without you, this essential work would not continue.”

A special focus during this year’s appeal was the consequences and the response of Caritas Australia to the current global water crisis.

According to the United Nations, in Africa alone, each year women spend 40 billion hours walking to collect water.

A lack of clean water disrupts the education of girls and robs communities of income and food. Additionally, Caritas invests in agricultural strategies which mitigate against climate change.

In the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea for example, their programs help counter sea level rises by investing in salt-water resistant crops as well as sea walls and mangroves which prevent the worst impacts of natural disasters.

Through 101 partnerships, Caritas supports 88 long-term programs in 27 countries and assists people affected by disaster or conflict in 22 countries.