2016: The year so far Media gallery

Syrian civil war - 5 years on

March marked 5 years since the Syrian civil war began, described by the United Nations as the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. The numbers are staggering (an estimated 250,000 lives lost, 4 million Syrians fleeing their country, 12.2 million forced to leave their homes) and so the relief effort continues to be one of the most extensive in the world.

Credit: Rashad Sisemore

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Syrian civil war - 5 years on

The plight of Syrian refugees is still as prevalent as ever in news headlines too, both here and across the world. In February, award-winning Australian musician Missy Higgins released ‘Oh Canada’, a tribute song for 3 year old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi, who died in Turkey last year while his family were trying to flee the war.

Credit: Image captured from Missy Higgins' 'Oh Canada' video

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Syrian civil war - 5 years on

Caritas Australia continues to offer support to those affected by the crisis and our membership through the wider Caritas network has enabled us to make a difference to the lives of many vulnerable Syrians. In the year leading up to the 5th anniversary, the Caritas network had reached 1.8 million Syrians through its programs.

Credit: Catholic Relief Services

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Cyclone Winston devastates Fiji

Communities in Fiji were devastated by Tropical Cyclone Winston in February. The category 5 storm is believed to be one of the strongest ever to hit the Southern Hemisphere, with an estimated 350,000 people impacted. The Fiji Government declared a nation-wide state of emergency immediately after the 20 February storm. Cyclone Winston also affected the Tongan islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai.

Credit: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

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Cyclone Winston devastates Fiji

Throughout the emergency response, the dedication and support of the Catholic Church and its supporting Caritas Oceania agencies have been recognised as vital in assisting those impacted by Cyclone Winston.

Credit: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

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Cyclone Winston devastates Fiji

Through our relief effort and that of our partners, Caritas Australia has been able to assist those impacted by the storm by providing shelter kits and non-food items, food parcels and the replantation of destroyed crops.

Credit: Caritas Aoetearoa New Zealand

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Project Compassion celebrates 50 years

Caritas Australia’s major fundraiser Project Compassion celebrated 50 years during the six weeks of Lent this year. The theme of this year’s fundraiser was “Learning more, creating change” and featured stories of how the project has changed the lives of people in India, Laos and Papua New Guinea to name a few.

Credit: Richard Wainwright

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Project Compassion celebrates 50 years

There was also incredible involvement in Project Compassion 2016 locally, from schools, parishes and churches all across the country. The theme really brought out some creative ideas – everything from pancake races to crazy sock days, cricket games to Darth Vader – all in the name of compassion.

Credit: Caritas Australia

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Project Compassion celebrates 50 years

One of the highlights of this year’s project was the visit from Martin Mazinga from Malawi. Martin is the Program Coordinator for CADECOM, Caritas Australia’s partner in the East Africa nation. He spent time in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Western Australia, speaking with school children and supporters of Caritas.

Credit: Caritas Australia

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Nepal earthquake - 1 year on

Last year’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal resulted in a large-scale emergency response, which continued well into the following 12 months after the disaster.

Credit: Catholic Relief Services

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Nepal earthquake - 1 year on

While the impact of the earthquake is still heavily felt, the incredible stories of resilience and solidarity from the people of Nepal appeared to take centre stage when the country marked the earthquake’s first anniversary in April. Caritas Australia have been working to reach people who are most vulnerable during natural disasters, including women, children and the elderly, like 103-year-old Thiramaya Garti Chetri. She lost her home in the earthquake, though a new home will be built for her through the Caritas recovery program.

Credit: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

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Nepal earthquake - 1 year on

The long-term development that the Caritas Network has been implementing in Nepal has a focus on shelter, cash-for-work, restoring safe water supplies, hgiene and snitation facilities and safety with investment in building communities' resilience for future disasters.The relief effort has also seen incredible generosity from all over the world, including home soil, with Caritas Australia’s supporters incredibly donating $4.3 million to the appeal.

Credit: Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis

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Nepal earthquake - 1 year on

Bishop Peter Stasiuk (CSsR DD), Vice-chair of Caritas Australia, along with our CEO Paul O’Callaghan and several other Caritas Australia staff members took part in a global Caritas confederation event to mark the anniversary. Bishop Peter Stasiuk said of the people in Nepal, “We were treated as real friends and family. They sang songs, danced dances, wrote poems, and gave speeches of thanksgiving. It was very emotional for me; it was uplifting.”

Credit: Trocaire/Shahid Khan

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Aid funding debate

The topic of Australian aid funding has featured heavily in the news so far in 2016. Prior to the disappointing budget announcement in May that saw the Liberal government cut Australian aid by $224 million, Caritas Australia, along with the wider Catholic community and coalition networks had urged Treasurer Scott Morrison to ‘Stop the Clock’ on the impending cuts. The discussion surrounding aid has maintained momentum in the weeks leading up to the July 2 election. Caritas Australia’s CEO Paul O’Callaghan has urged “leaders on both sides of politics to restore Australia's strong record of being a significant contributor to addressing global and regional poverty.”

Credit: Caritas Australia

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Women making a difference

It’s been a big six months for women in the world of social justice. There have been several highlights, including the Women for the World events. Held in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, guests listened to inspiring talks by Psyche Mae, who took part in a Caritas program in 2008 and is now a social worker.

Credit: Peter Brennen

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Women making a difference

Another highlight included Caritas Australia’s own Kylie Supramaniam. Kylie works in the agency’s International Programs team as Program Coordinator, India and she was honoured with the ‘Inspiring Woman Leader in International Development Working with Tribal Women’ award in February, by non-government organisation AT India. Fantastic work, Kylie!

Credit: Caritas Australia

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Exercising the cause

Caritas Australia’s supporters have been as integral as ever in the first half of the year, with some even taking their support for our work that extra step – or cycle – further. In February, 14 of our supporters took part in the ‘Cycle for solidarity’ challenge in Cambodia. The group covered close to 400km across the country, raising awareness and funds (over $75,000!) for our projects there.

Credit: Inspired Adventures

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Exercising the cause

And our friend Matt Napier has taken on his own incredible challenge. The ‘Walk to a Better World’ campaign kicked off (literally) in early June, with Matt kicking a soccer ball and walking across Africa. Matt’s target is to walk 2,250 to raise awareness for the importance of reducing poverty through sustainable change. While his challenge will finish up in the second half of 2016 (lock 20 August in your calendars), Matt’s effort so far and all-round incredible determination is too inspiring not to mention!

Credit: Caritas Australia

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