Long time between sausage rolls …
One of the hardest things for me about the COVID-19 lockdowns over the last 18 months was missing out on morning and afternoon teas at Lutheran Women events. Homemade sausage rolls. Proper scones. Those little cheese and bacon toasty thingies I have never learned how to make.
Seriously though, all of us at ALWS have missed meeting you face-to-face to share with you the wonderful things you do in people’s lives through ALWS. Not just in places like Somalia, Ethiopia, and Cambodia … but here in Australia too, as you model to others (especially grandchildren with Gifts of Grace) what it means to bring love to life. Your kindness and generosity are an inspiring example and make true your motto to live as “women loved by God, sharing this love with others”.
You may want to know the dollar amount of your Lutheran Women kindness over the last three years. (HINT: you will be astonished!) I will share that with you – but later.
First, I want you to meet some of those blessed by your kindness. You’ll see how your investment of love in their lives grows and multiplies to bless others.
Let’s start in Somalia, with Fatima. While Fatima is 16, before your help arrived through our ALWS partner LWF, she’d never been to school. Drought had destroyed her family’s livestock and crops in Somalia … then attacks by armed militia forced her family to flee to a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). While they were now safe, challenges remained. Fatima recalls:
“The situation was so hard. We did not have food and shelter. Sometimes I help my mother to do domestic work like washing clothes for others. Through that little work we get each day, we must try to make a living for the whole family.”
The good news is that at the IDP Camp, Fatima joined 1,500 other children to go to school, in an Accelerated Learning Program to catch up on the education she’d missed.
This school program is supported by people like you through ALWS, matched with a grant from the Australian Government.
Fatima also received her school uniform, lunch at school each day, and fresh water supplies to the school to protect against COVID-19. She says:
“Now I am happy that I don’t do domestic work, and rather I can focus on my education.”
You can understand why Fatima values her education so much. Too often, girls in places like Somalia are forgotten or left behind. They are at risk of sexual assault. Early marriage. Forced to give birth before their bodies are ready. Treated as child labour. Stolen to be child soldiers. According to UNICEF, 98% of girls in Somalia aged 5–11 suffer female genital mutilation.
That’s why your Lutheran Women help for girls like Fatima is so precious.
In Ethiopia, you met people fleeing fighting, like this mum. For five days she carried her little daughter on her back. Walked 225 kilometres. Leaving everything behind. Why? She was a victim of the conflict between Tigray and Ethiopia that displaced nearly one million people, but barely made the news in Australia.
These people are forgotten. But not by you. Through ALWS, with our partner LWF Ethiopia, you were there to welcome and care for displaced people like this family, as they fled to Mekelle the capital of Tigray. Mum said they had no food or water on the road and survived only because soldiers took pity and shared rations with them. At night, people would climb trees to hide from armed forces, and protect themselves from wild animals. Despite all the hardships, Mum says:
“We were lucky we fled in the early days of the conflict and thank God that we did not see bodies littering the highway or witness heavy fighting.”
The family were separated from their relatives. Mum shared:
“I don’t even know where they are, if they are dead or alive. I don’t know if our house is still standing. We have absolutely no news.”
This family had to live with 1,606 other displaced people in a school turned into a refuge. There were eight rooms, and only four wash basins for all those people. COVID-19 was a threat.
Support from Lutheran Women through ALWS helped provide essentials including:
- Famix – therapeutic food
- cups, cooking pots, 20 litre jerry-cans, 10 litre buckets
- soap, hand-sanitiser, facemasks
- plastic sheets, mattresses, bed sheets, blankets, pillows
- seeds, farm tools and livestock like goats.
Let’s go now to Cambodia, and meet Mrs Chann Moa, whose life is changed forever because of people like you.
Mrs Chann is a widow and one of the poorest people in her community. Too often, people like her are forgotten, and their daily survival needs overlooked. Before help through ALWS, Mrs Chann had never had water near her house:
“Almost my whole life I have never had water near my house. I must bring it from the stream or the pond far away from my house and must spend a lot of time to bring it.”
As she got older, Mrs Chann had to spend nearly a dollar a day to buy water. This may not seem a lot to you and me, but someone in poverty in Cambodia may have to live on as little as $2 a day. That’s why Mrs Chann says:
“Thank you so much for your kind assistance. Now I no longer have to buy water like I did before.”
The clean water Mrs Chann now has come because people like you supported Mrs Chann’s community to build this water tower near a local dam.
The tank holds 10,000 litres of water. Once the water is pumped in, it can be gravity-fed via pipes to households like Mrs Chann’s. She has this message for you:
“I really appreciate the ALWS donors who have provided this water irrigation system, even though this project is in a remote area that most people in Cambodia don’t know.
I do not have anything to give back to you.
I have only my hand to wave and wish all the people who have helped develop and support this project to be healthy, and have happiness in their family, and be safe from COVID-19.”
These are just three of hundreds of stories I could share with you about the lives blessed because of Lutheran Women kindness and generosity through ALWS, sharing love with others.
I thank God you share in our mission inspired by these words in Hebrews: Do not forget those who are suffering, but imagine you are there with them. Hebrews 13:3b
On behalf of Mrs Chann and Fatima and that Ethiopian mum, and every other person you help, thank you for being there with them in their suffering. Your love means they are not forgotten – and your kindness can be a blessing ALWayS!
Community Action Manager, ALWS
PS: You thought I forgot to share the dollar numbers with you, didn’t you? Here they are. Now if you could just point me toward the sausage rolls.
|YOUR TOTAL KINDNESS 1/9/18 – 28/5/21||$101,485!|
Community Action Manager, ALWS