ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY REPORT: Thanks to the dedicated energies and talents of members of the Sydney Archdiocese's Catholic Women's League (CWL), disadvantaged youngsters in Sri Lanka not only have a new pre-school but a range of vivid, hand-knitted blankets to keep them warm.
For the past 12 months members of Sydney's CWL have devoted their time and talents to raising money to help build and equip a Lasallian Foundation pre-school in Sri Lanka where the children are disadvantaged and come from some of the country's poorest families.
Not only did the group of CWL members raise $31,000 over the past year towards the school but they have spent many hours creating a wonderful series of beautiful brightly-coloured blankets for the school's young children.
The official 2010-2011 project for the CWL was set to end this month, but although members are already embarking on their project for 2011-2012, President of the Sydney CWL, Moya Potts says no one is putting down their knitting needles just yet.
"Children are using the blankets for their naps during school hours as well as a way to keep warm and also for any child who becomes ill. They need as many as we can supply," she says.
But while the knitting will continue, Sydney's CWL has begun fundraising plans for its newest project which will see them working closely with the Marist Youth Care to help at risk young people in Western Sydney.
For the next 12 months, Moya says members will concentrate on raising funds and giving practical help and support to Marist Youth Care's "Affordable Housing for Life" initiative which is helping to provide permanent housing for youth at risk as well as training and the chance at a more positive and productive life.
"It is a wonderful initiative and we will do all we can to help," Moya says explaining that in western Sydney the key issues for young people are high unemployment and homelessness.
"Marist Youth Care's Affordable Housing for Life will not only provide a bed for these young people but the tools and training for a brighter happier future," she says.
With a membership of all ages, from all walks of life, linked by their Catholic faith, desire to help others and a good strong Aussie sense of humour, in addition to its volunteer and fund raising efforts to help projects such as the Lasallian pre school and youth at risk via Marist Youth Care, CWL is instrumental in making many key submissions to the Federal and State Governments.
In recent years CWL has been a strong voice in Government submissions on a wide range of important contemporary issues including taking a stand against euthanasia as well as the legalisation of RU486, popularly dubbed the 'morning after' or 'abortion pill.'
In addition CWL organises an annual forum of some of the leading minds in Australia which attracts a strong and interested audience of women from across the city.
This year's forum, Journeys to Justice, will take place next week on Saturday afternoon, 23 July at the Australian Museum Theatrette. The impressive line up of guest panellists will include leading Magistrate with the Local Courts NSW, Jacqueline M. Milledge; the Honorable John Hannaford, former Examiner with the Australian Crime Commission and Ms Sandie Cornish, Manager of Research and Social Policy for the Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services.
The panellists will discuss the relevance of justice in today's society after which there will be an open forum of questions and answers with Marita Winters, Director of the Catholic Enquiry Centre acting as Facilitator.
Founded to provide support in faith and day to day life for Catholic women and to address social and moral issues affecting family life, particularly in relation to women and children, CWL champions equality for all in areas of health, education and economic and social welfare as well working closely with church leaders and organisations, with a strong emphasis on social justice.
But for most people, it is the selfless energy and time members of the CWL put in to help others that is so impressive.
"What is most heart warming for all of us was hearing from the Lasallian Foundation who sent us photographs of the children as a thank you for our efforts," says Moya. "Seeing the children with their big smiles holding up our blankets was a lovely surprise."
To join in the upcoming CWL forum on justice in today's society and its relevance, and also to find out details of becoming a member and helping make a difference to children and youth both here and abroad, log on tohttp://cwlsydney.org.au/our_work.html