Children are at the heart of our church’s work bringing love to life in poor communities through Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS).
We strive to live out the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 to give the practical care of food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and ‘welcome strangers’ like Nima and Amran, the refugee sisters you see above right. However, it’s vital we also protect the children who come to our partners for care from abuse and hurt.
ALWS has taken a lead role worldwide in helping protect children, and supporting them to find their voice in upholding their rights.
ALWS leadership has influenced Lutheran World Federation (LWF) – a partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – to update its child protection policy; translate it into Spanish, French and Arabic; and implement training in Nepal, Uganda, El Salvador and Geneva to cover nearly all LWF country programs.
ALWS has taken a lead role worldwide in helping PROTECT children, and SUPPORTING them to find their voice in upholding their rights.
ALWS has also strongly advocated for ACT Alliance, consisting of more than 140 member church organisations around the world, to develop a Child Safeguarding Policy.
These actions are in line with LCA child protection processes, and are vital to help minimise the risk of abuse and exploitation of children. This focus is critical in all ALWS work. Indeed, in the process that led to ALWS being reaccredited by the Australian Government for a further five years, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade team leader Rhonda Chapman noted: ‘Your child protection is really punching above your weight. We kept seeing it was integrated. It’s everywhere.’
As well as leading the way in the protection of children, ALWS advocates strongly to uphold the rights, and meet the special needs, of children with difabilities (‘different’ abilities, rather than ‘dis’ability).
Mohamed, pictured above, is the brother of Nima and Amran. Already living with obstructive hydrocephalus that means the 15-year-old is only the height of a five-year-old, last year Mohamed was forced to face a new challenge as he became blind.
‘Before I had many friends, but now only a few friends come to visit’, he says. ‘This makes me not feel well. When they do come, I am very happy and excited. When they do not, I am lonely.’
That’s why, as well as providing Mohamed with special sunglasses to protect his eyes, and extra rice to keep him strong, LWF works with the community to break down barriers that can stop children like Mohamed achieving their full potential. (Mohamed would like to be a doctor!)
In seeking to protect children, and in helping them give voice to their rights, including those children with difabilities, ALWS is inspired by the actions of Jesus in Mark 10:13-16 when he welcomed the children, upheld their uniqueness, and blessed them.
This is how our Lutheran family is bringing love to life for children through ALWS.
Contact ALWS by phone on 1300 763 407
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Visit the ALWS website
Jonathan Krause is ALWS Community Action Manager.
This feature story comes from The Lutheran September 2016. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.