“And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6v9). Greetings! The last quarter has been a time of growth and challenge for us and yet also a time of encouragement. Due to the rains and the perseverance of our Family Services team, families on our food program are yielding crops in their vegetable gardens. The crops from our demonstration garden site are going to the most vulnerable families we serve, those who are chronically ill, the elderly, disabled and those without land.
We realize that the dry season is still coming (very dry months from December to March) and so we are working on ways to help the community manage water resources. We have a long way to go in all we are doing, but we celebrate the victories as they come and hope this newsletter encourages you.
Some highlights for us this past quarter:
- We are so blessed to have Brazilian MSC Sister, Sr. Gloria Caixeta, joining us and we have welcomed her with open arms! She is working half-time with us and half-time with the Region. With us, she is helping in our Family Services department and with our Administration, and she is also part of our Executive team that oversees and advises in decision making. She has a lot of experience in development programs and she recently undertook a course with an institution in Italy on child protection e.g. preventing child trafficking, so we are honoured to benefit from her knowledge, experience and wisdom. She has also brought in the much needed expertise of capacitating people to become independent. She loves deeply and this love gives us strength.
- Mr. Abebe Anjulo joined us as our new Education Program Manager. He was previously with United Nations on a refugee program up North in Ethiopia. He was born and raised in nearby Areka town just outside of Dubbo and he is celebrating being able to be back and make an impact in his own community.
- Schools are back! Our preschools reopened for the year in September. Overwhelming we had so many applicants and we couldn’t accept over 800 children who applied, as we simply don’t have the space. This is amazing that so many children have applied because it means parents are seeing the value of early childhood development (ECD) and they trust our schools. However, we simply cannot manage these volumes of children yet and not all of them will have preschools they can attend.
- We opened one more classroom at our Dubbo pre-school to accept 40 more children. The maximum capacity per classroom is 40 children to ensure effective learning and we are extremely grateful for the funds we receive that have allowed us to run one more class.
- Our nutrition program for the extremely vulnerable and unwell clients officially started in July. The team has worked hard to identify which clients fall within this group and we continue to monitor the community at large and stay in touch with community leaders and visiting all families to ensure we . Again, the reality is that many people are extremely poor in the communities we serve, but we are endeavouring to provide nutrition to those who simply cannot provide for themselves.
- We have worked very hard to maintain good relationships with local government. We believe in having healthy relationships with them as we have a joint interest in the well being of people within our communities. One of the fruits of this relationship is that our Family Services team recently received training from the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs on children’s rights and child protection. It is important for our team to be up to date in good practice so we can continue to build a strong safety net of care for children we serve.
- On the organisational development side: In September we underwent a financial strengthening process to ensure we are doing the best financial practices and we also reviewed our management and leadership structure. A huge thank you to the MSC Generalate for their investment and support in ensuring our financial management is strengthened.