What are its aims?
It offers people from parishes a firsthand experience of poverty and oppression. It develops lasting relationships between people and nurtures mutual respect and understanding. It encourages communities to engage in activities which strengthen partnerships with Columban missions.
What has been achieved already?
St Kilda/West Elwood parish has raised $35,000 in the last six years and after two visits to the Philippines decided to give the money to the Grameen Bank (People's Bank) which is a development of micro-finance pioneered by Mohammed Yunnis in Bangladesh and promoted by Columban Fr Sean Connaughton in the Philippines. Two thousand projects have been financed already. The majority of clients are women who want to support their families and provide good education for their children. An amazing fact - 98% success rate of the Grameen banking system.
One woman in the parish raised $1000 for the project by making and selling Christmas cakes.
Ferntree Gully parish supports the Community Based Rehabilitation Program (CBR) in the province of Zambales, the Philippines. The CBR provides support for disabled people in the form of physiotherapy, equipment, medical supplies and counselling. A physiotherapist is employed at $1800 for one year and some disabled people are trained to administer massage therapy to others. The CBR began a project where a stall was set up to sell rice in a market. Disabled people operate the stall so they become less dependent on others, $800 was donated to help start this project.
Torquay/Grovedale parish is building a connection with Christ the King parish, Ba, Fiji, particularly St Teresa's school where they have developed a teacher-to-teacher relationship and are sending books to the school library as well as providing two laptop computers for the school and the parish. They are looking to bring four teachers from Ba to Torquay at the end of 2009. They intend to build strong links with the parish.
The Geelong cluster of parishes has arranged two visits to the Philippines and decided to support the Grameen Bank. As result of their experience there they have raised thousands of dollars. In 2008 they sponsored some young Filipinos to World Youth Day in Sydney. They have actively involved the parish schools in their proposals.
Why become involved?
It extends our awareness of the world and other cultures; our horizons expand; we deepen our sense of Christian mission in today's world. Also, we can learn wisdom from people poorer than ourselves and take action for justice to support them.
For more information about the Columban Partnership Program
St Columbans Mission Society
PO Box 752
NIDDRIE VIC 3042
Phone: (03) 9375 9475