Friday, 26 May 2017

From little things, HUGE things grow!

Vicki Gollash, ALWS Community Education rep for Victoria, NSW and Tasmania, shares the story of a small but MIGHTY group of kids and teachers in rural Victoria. 
 
Students from St Peter’s Lutheran School
in Dimboola saved their devotion
offerings for 2 years to help
an amazing 50 refugee kids go to school!
A couple of weeks ago, I visited St Peter's Lutheran School in Dimboola. With just 27 kids in total, I think it may be the smallest Lutheran School in Australia!

I spoke to 11 Grade P-2 students and then 16 Grade 3-6 students. They were lovely kids and really keen to learn.

After lunch, they half-filled buckets of water and walked 1 km around the block. It’s a simple exercise to experience what life is like for other children their age.

This is all part of a very normal school visit.  

The surprising part happened at the end of the day…

...when they presented me with a cheque for $1300!

The students and the whole school community were so excited because this means they can help 50 refugee kids go to school!

What an incredible effort - thank you, St Peter's Lutheran School!

And what a wonderful reminder to us all that from little things - like a $1 coin in the devotion collection jar - AMAZING things can grow!

If you'd also like to help refugee kids go to school, sign up for Walk My Way or simply Donate Now. Thank you!  

Friday, 5 May 2017

Meet Indi: Minecraft enthusiast and Champion for Refugees!

Inspired by a visit from the ALWS Community Education team to her school, Queensland student Indi decided she needed to do something to help refugees. 

'I love the work they [ALWS] do' says Indi. 'They help refugees and people in developing countries, in all sorts of ways. I am hoping to raise $100 by not using my devices (ipad/iPhone, except for essential school work) from Sunday 21st May through to Saturday 28th May'.

See Indi's passion in her short video below!




Or watch it here on YouTube. 

I'm sure you'll agree Indi seems like a pretty amazing girl. 

What's even more amazing is that she's already smashed her $100 target and has increased it to $500 - which would help an incredible 19 refugee children!

In her quest to help others, Indi knows she hasn't taken on an easy challenge in giving up her devices. 'This means no Minecraft and no YouTube' she says. 'It will be very hard for me'.

Mum Bek is so proud of her daughter:

'This afternoon she was watching an SBS documentary she found that I had taped called Go Back To Where You Came From. She was calling out to the TV in support of refugees. I love her heart!'

You can sponsor Indi on her fundraising page here, or simply leave her a comment to encourage her. Go Indi!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Why We're Walking: Kirra and Julie, ALWS

Mums Kirra and Julie have test-walked the 26 kilometre 
Walk My Way track, following the path of Lutheran 
pioneer women. They urge other mums to join them 
in stepping out to bring love to life for refugees. 
Photo: LWF / C.Kastner
“When you give birth, you think life will all go very smoothly, and you long for your child to be like everybody else.

“But sometimes that doesn’t happen.

“Asher is 10 now, and his name means ‘happy and blessed’. He lives with autism.

“I can’t change that. All I can do is equip Asher with the skills to cope in a world that is not always very welcoming to people like him. I can’t control how people respond to him. I can’t force them to be open and kind, but I can equip Asher to survive.”

Kirra Lewis, a ‘product’ of Lutheran congregations in the east of Melbourne, is coordinating a new event, Walk My Way, for ALWS. This 26 kilometre walk follows the footsteps of Lutheran pioneer women in the 1840s as they carried produce from Hahndorf to Adelaide – and returned with hard-to-get goods, including two bricks each to build a new church.

Walk My Way aims to raise money to help refugee children in Africa go to school, and walk in solidarity with those who have lost everything as refugees. Kirra says,

“I guess that’s why I’m part of Walk My Way.

“All of us who are mums long for our children to be whole and happy, and contributing members of society. When that’s challenged, there’s something in your mother heart that means you’d walk over hot coals to change things.

“In the developing world, that mother heart doesn’t change.

“You still want to do everything you can to help your child to survive. That’s why we at ALWS see refugee mothers walking vast distances, through great danger, to carry their children to safety.

“So for me to walk 26 kilometres in Walk My Way is a small thing – but I’m doing it for mothers for whom walking means everything.”

Working – and walking – alongside Kirra is Julie Krause, ALWS Community Action Officer for SA/ NT /WA. Julie has her own mother heart story for doing Walk My Way.

“I came from a large family, and always dreamed of having four or more children. But I had a lot of trouble falling pregnant, and remember looking at other women who were pregnant, and feeling a deep heartache.

“It seemed so easy for them, but so hard for me. I knew God could answer my prayers, but I struggled to understand why he didn’t.

“Finally, after 7 years, I was blessed with Josiah.  People say it’s easy to become pregnant again after the first, but not for me. We embarked on the overseas adoption journey, but the little girl we were matched with, died four days before we were due to collect her. The next child we were given was kidnapped as part of a political process against adoption.

“When you so long to be a mother again, that pain is almost unbearable.

“Yet, God answered my prayer when Tesema and Abebaw from Ethiopia became my two new sons. God answered my dream – just not the way I expected.


“I know what a gift children are, and how precious it is to be a mum. That’s why when I Walk My Way, I will be walking for mums in Africa whose children are threatened by  famine and conflict.” 

Walk My Way happens on Tuesday 4 July, but you can do it when and where it suits you best. If you can’t walk, you can volunteer, pray or sponsor a Walker. Simply go to walkmyway.org.au or call 1300 763 407

Friday, 21 April 2017

A school built in 5 months

From this...


...to this - in 5 months!



On 16 April 2017, the community at Ali Addeh Refugee camp in Djibouti celebrated a new school built in partnership between ALWS, LWF and the European Commission. With 10 classrooms and 11 latrines, hundreds of refugee children can now go to school in proper conditions.

The Chair of the School Management Community called the school 'a great treasure'. The Chairlady called it 'a dream come true'. The whole refugee community expressed their gratitude to the ALWS family … so we pass that on to you. 

These are the 'dreams' you make a reality through Walk My Way and ALWS.

Thank you! 

Find out more about Walk My Way here

Away and In Danger: Carol of the Refugee Children

These moving words to the tune of 'Away in a Manger' were written by Shirley Murray from New Zealand. Our prayer is they encourage all of us to keep reaching out in love for justice for refugees. 

Away and in danger,
Rose crossed the border from South Sudan to safety
with her four children, carrying all their worldly possessions.

no hope of a bed,
the refugee children,
no tears left to shed               
look up at the night sky
for someone to know
that refugee children
have no place to go.      

The babies are crying,
their hunger awakes,
the boat is too loaded,
it shudders and breaks;
humanity's wreckage
is thrown out to die,
the refugee children
will never know why.

Come close, little children,
we hold out our hand
in rescue and welcome
to shores of our land -
in *aroha, touching
        your fear and your pain,
with dreams for your future          
when peace comes again.

*Maori for 'warm embracing love'
alternative line "in touching, in healing'

Shirley Erena Murray 
Words © 2016 Hope Publishing Company

Thanks for allowing us to share your powerful words, Shirley. 

To 'hold out your hand' and welcome refugee children, register now for Walk My Way, or sponsor a Walker. Your prayers are also needed. Thank you!

Why I'm Walking: Gaynor Gower, LLL officer, SA

The Lutheran Laypeople's League (LLL) serves so many with their generous gifts to help people in need through different arms of the church, including ALWS. 

Their staff are pretty awesome too! LLL staff member Gaynor Gower shares why she's walking 26km in July...
Gaynor and husband Michael, who's thinking
of joining Team LLL on the Walk!

I have been a long time supporter of ALWS and feel very strongly about the work they do.

Having worked with Jen Pfitzner while she was based in Adelaide at the LLL office has also reinforced the fantastic work ALWS does.

When I heard LLL were one of the sponsors for Walk My Way and found out more about the walk, I felt this was something I could do and in fact, felt quite compelled to do.

Both myself and my fellow LLL staff member Andrea were very keen to register for the walk and will be proud to represent the LLL.

I am hoping that by participating in
Walk My Way, I can raise more awareness for all the good works that ALWS do.

Thank you, Gaynor, Andrea and the LLL for your wonderfully generous support!

To sponsor Team LLL through Walk My Way, click here. To join them on the Trail in July, register now!

Or to learn more about the generous work of the LLL, click here!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

'The wind can blow this school away': Alsaid's Story

Alsaid is 12 years old and fled to Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya to escape the war in Somalia. Even at such a young age, he knows education is vital for him and the other children at the Camp. Here, Alsaid thanks you, and asks you not to forget them.

“I was in Level 7 at school when we left Somalia. There was war going on, and there were bandits. When they see you, they shoot you. I see one person who has died already.

There were two rebel groups fighting for control of our area. We had to run away from these clashes.

There were burials daily, so many died. I was very scared I would be killed. 

This is why we run away. We boarded a vehicle from Somalia in January 2011. It took two days to reach the border. On the way we were intercepted by bandits. They took all our clothes, and by the time we arrived here we were half naked.

We arrived at Dagahaley camp (part of Dadaab Refugee Camp) where we were registered as new arrivals. As the area was filled up, we had to live on the outskirts. We had to live in the local shelter made from shrubs.

We came here with nothing. We received help from our relatives who were already here, and we received food distribution. We also received sleeping mats, utensils, blankets, and a tent at Kambios (another part of Dadaab).

My parents can just stay in the camp. There is no work for them to do, and this makes them sad.

LWF (ALWS partners Lutheran World Federation) is the one who give us the education. They built up the school for us. 

I give my thanks to the people in Australia. I am grateful.

Please continue your help as the school is not yet completed. We have no permanent classroom. Without this, the wind can come and blow this school away.

We do not even have a school bell, so the children don’t know when to come. We need a stamp to put the school name on the textbooks. We get homework, but we do not have enough books. At home we also do not have light so we cannot study at night.

I would like to be a teacher. I will teach the younger children, and be a teacher here at this camp. I will make sure parents bring the children to school, because if the children do not have education they can only be labourers.

Education is the best thing to make life better in the camp.”

To help children like Alsaid, register for Walk My Way now. Can't walk? Sponsor a Walker, donate, volunteer, pray. Thank you!