The LCA/NZ’s overseas aid agency, Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS), last month launched a 100-day campaign to support 10,000 children in refugee camps and other crisis situations to return to school when COVID-19 allows.

Who will the campaign support?

Children targeted are living at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, Displaced Persons Camps in Somalia, and in poverty-affected areas across South Sudan.

According to ALWS Community Action manager, Jonathan Krause, these areas already know the critical value of Lutheran-supported education delivered by ALWS partner Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

‘Just as in Australia, where the word “Lutheran” signifies high-quality education from teaching teams that value each child individually, the same applies where our Lutheran family works through ALWS’, he says.

‘A classroom in a refugee camp may look very different from one at St Peters or Immanuel here in Australia, but there is no difference in the commitment to equip students with the skills they need to achieve their potential. And that’s something that’s been part of our Lutheran identity and ministry from when Lutherans first arrived in Australia in the 1830s.’

What’s the mission behind this initiative?

The ‘10,000 children … 100 days’ campaign was launched on Sunday 22 November because the gospel reading for that day is Jesus’ call to reach out and serve those ‘overlooked or ignored’ (Matthew 25:40 – The Message).

‘At ALWS our mission is to seek out those who might otherwise be forgotten, and enable our church to give the care that brings love to life’, Jonathan says. ‘In everyday ALWS ministry, this includes people with special needs, the elderly in a community, those who may be rejected culturally or simply because they are a woman. In education, the forgotten may include older children who have missed out on school because they had to flee conflict, girls at risk of being forced into early marriage, orphans and children separated from family and, of course, children with special needs.’

What practical support does ‘10,000 children … 100 days’ provide?

ALWS says it can cost just $26 to support a child in their schooling for one year. This can help supply such essentials as school books, uniforms, school desks, training for refugee teachers, school lunches and clean water for drinking and for handwashing to protect against COVID-19. ‘Finding support over the next 100 days to get 10,000 children back to school is a big challenge, but at ALWS I am blessed every day to see the generosity of our Lutheran family in helping others’, Jonathan says. ‘The ALWS GRACE Project, Walk My Way, Gifts of Grace – ours is a church where people want to get their hands dirty and make things happen. Not with big fanfare, but humbly and simply wanting to serve others. When this kind of love comes to life, it is a blessing always for those who are forgotten.’

Join the ALWS ‘10,000 children … 100 days’ campaign with $26 per child to support school for a year, tax-deductible: alws.org.au * 1300 763 407.

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