Canberra women unite for the world's most marginalised

Ahead of the day on which Australia celebrates motherhood and maternal bonds, over a 100 women will gather in Canberra for the annual Women for the World luncheon, a fundraiser for international aid and development agency, Caritas Australia. The event will be held on Thursday, May 10th, at the Royal Canberra Golf Club (RCGC) in Yarralumla.

Former ABC journalist and author Genevieve Jacobs will host the luncheon, which will this year focus on raising awareness of the plight of refugees, particularly women and children.

With the assistance of a volunteer team, Lulu Mitshabu, Caritas Australia's Canberra-based Community Participation Leader, has organised the fundraiser. Lulu has firsthand experience of being forced to leave her country, fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1989. Today she works for Caritas on programs focused on improving the lives of women.

"Never before has there been a greater need to provide food, water and shelter to people fleeing famine, persecution and war. By attending the luncheon, Australian women will not only show their solidarity with the world's refugees, but assist Caritas in our mission to help the poorest of the poor," Ms Mitshabu said.

During the luncheon, guests will hear from Suzy McIntyre, Caritas Australia's Humanitarian Programs Coordinator and her accounts of Caritas’ work with Syrian refugees. A Registered Nurse, Suzy has helped shape the agency's response to a series of humanitarian crises, including the Syrian Civil War, a conflict which has led to over 5 million Syrians seeking refuge in countries across the Middle East.

"Over half of all Syrian refugees are children. Often struggling in poverty and unresolved trauma, many have not been able to attend school for several years," Mrs McIntyre said.

Caritas Australia, alongside partner organisations Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Caritas Jordan, is working to ensure that Syrian child refugees are able to gain an education.

Across Jordan, Syrian refugee children attending schools are able to access kindergarten programs, extra tuition and psycho- social support at one of 27 Caritas run schools. The Caritas Education Program provides uniforms, school supplies, transportation and healthy snacks breaking down the barriers that prevent children from attending school.

"Through our education program in Jordan, Caritas is ensuring that Syrian refugee children will not become a 'lost generation'. When the time comes these kids will be able to return to Syria with skills that they need to help rebuild it," Mrs McIntyre said.

Caritas Australia is the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church in Australia. Last year, thanks to our supporters we assisted over 2 million people directly through our emergency and development programs in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and with Australia’s First Peoples.

To learn more about Caritas Australia's work in Syria or to make a donation please visit our Middle East Emergency Appeal.

Caritas media contact: