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Project Compassion changing lives


As a program coordinator for Caritas Australia, Anshu Adhikari knows first-hand the impact Project Compassion has on changing the lives of vulnerable people around the world.

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Visiting Adelaide last month to conduct a Q&A session with students from Mercedes College and meet with Year 12 Social Justice leaders, Anshu (pictured) explained how even the smallest donation to the annual Lenten appeal made a huge difference.

“One thing I have realised is that people don’t know the value of their contribution,” she said.

“Because of the exchange rate and the value of the dollar, even one dollar donated will provide a very good meal for an individual.

“While we show stories during the appeal of one person who is supported by Project Compassion, in each program there are sometimes 10,000 beneficiaries who we are serving.”

Born in Nepal, Anshu has worked and studied in Malawi, Europe, the UK and Bangladesh and for the past 18 months has been based in Sydney with Caritas Australia.

As part of her role she talks with students about her work with the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency and her motivation for “giving back”.

“It is something I have received and my life has changed because of it, so now I want to give back to my community, to whoever is in need,” she explained.

“It is not people’s fault they are in a difficult position. These people just need tools, opportunities and space – and if I can help in gaining those for the community, then everyone has potential.”

Responsible for managing programs and funding to partner organisations on the ground in Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, Anshu said meeting the people supported by Caritas Australia was a reaffirming experience.

“Once you meet the people on the ground who are actually the beneficiaries receiving the assistance and hear their stories you think ‘wow, we are doing a good job’,” she said.

A highlight of a visit to Nepal in November last year was talking to a young mother of two who was involved in a locally-led program to increase food security and enterprise development.

Through the project the women in the remote community had formed a systematic corporated system and were supporting each other to develop skills in farming and agriculture. Any profits from the enterprise are available to be loaned, at little interest, for further investment in their business.

Anshu said before joining the program the woman had relied on her husband “for everything – for money, decision making”, however she was now more confident and resilient.

“Now she is leasing land and farming, earning money and sending her kids to school.

“She wants to expand her business and is exploring ways to sell her products. She is independent.”

The support from Caritas Australia’s went beyond the program by helping the partner organisations to improve their systems.

“We talk to them about their policies, their management style, about their governance structure and ask what support they need to strengthen their institution,” Anshu said.

“We can bring in experts who can help in a specific area and they work on the side of the project. They are strengthening the organisation which in turn will result in strengthening the community, because they will be there for a long time.

“It’s about sustainability – we might have a project with them today but in a few years we might not, but the training and resources will remain forever.”


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