Lutheran schools in Australia and Australian Lutheran World Service team up in many ways to bring love to life for people in need.
Lutheran Education Australia Executive Director Associate Professor Lisa Schmidt said the partnerships between the LCA’s overseas aid and development agency with Lutheran schools and early childhood services helped ‘children, young people and staff learn that the people we love and serve might be far away from us geographically and culturally, or right next door’.
‘Through learning with ALWS, students and staff encounter injustice and have the opportunity to respond with courage and compassion’, she said. ‘Students are brought into relationship with the wider world and its needs. While students won’t get to meet the 40,000 children in refugee camps that receive an education through the Grace Project, they do hear their stories from the ALWS team at Awareness Days and through challenges. These relationships help bring all of us closer together: growing, serving, shaping and enriching the world.’
Jodie Hoff, who is principal at Lutheran Ormeau Rivers District School (LORDS) at Pimpama in Queensland and chair of the ALWS Board said ALWS supported students ‘to develop a deep understanding and empathy about what real development, sustainability and empowerment look like’.
‘Students see that no matter their age, they have the capacity to use their hands, head and hearts to impact the lives of others’, she said.
LORDS, which has 643 students, and Thmei Village in Cambodia, which has 527 people, have come together in a partnership through ALWS to build a community pond. The people of Thmei told ALWS that changing climate had made rainfall unreliable and threatened crops, which provide their income, and affected local hygiene, which jeopardised their health. The community pond will provide clean safe water year-round.
For two weeks in August, LORDS encouraged students, staff and families to participate in local versions of Walk My Way – on beaches, in their neighbourhoods and at school – until they covered 26 kilometres.
The school’s Year 5 students also worked on the ALWS ‘What’s my business?’ service learning unit – building businesses to create profit which helps people.
The LORDS school community has raised more than $7000 to help the people of Thmei Village.
Meanwhile, the students of Good Shepherd Lutheran College at Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast are also making a difference for people in the African nation of Burundi through an ALWS partnership.
Ndaruzaniye lives in Burundi. After her husband died, life became very hard. ‘I feel so much sorrow. We were eating badly – just beans and sweet potato. I was often sick, and the children were also sick. I don’t have enough money for the school uniforms and materials’, she said.
So, Good Shepherd students decided to help families like Ndaruzaniye’s to build their own houses so they can be safe and secure. Through ALWS the school launched a ‘Bricks for Burundi’ campaign.
School chapel offerings, a local Walk My Way and coin collections were just some of the ways the Good Shepherd community has built fundraising – while Ndaruzaniye built bricks – 2500 of them, made from mud, with the help of neighbours. ‘I am excited to have a new home – a clean, safe environment and my heart will be full of joy! I am thankful to the Australians for assisting me’, Ndaruzaniye said.