St Veronica Welfare Committee and Thrift Shop located on West End’s Hardgrave Road has expanded its reach to Ethiopia.

After a long and at times challenging process of correspondence, planning and logistics, the team has been able to send funds to Sire in Nekemte to continue the vital work of the Bethany Fathers as they confront major issues facing the impoverished community including a lack of access to clean water and high incidences of podoconiosisa, a debilitating condition caused by exposure to red clay soil.

St Veronica Welfare Committee Honorary President Margaret Kerwin says keeping in touch with the Director of Bethany Boys’ Home Father Augustine proved to be crucial in facilitating the support, as the Father shared continued updates of the poor conditions at Sire. “Father was especially interested in assisting the sufferers of podoconiosis and to assist the local community to access fresh water which was scarce.  Hence, the Committee has helped Father to purchase donkeys for the transfer of potable water which required to be transported from some distance away,” said Margaret. “The Committee was always interested in assisting poor communities in Africa but lacked the knowledge of how this could be done safely.”

As transferring funds overseas can be risky, the Committee used the Thrift Shop’s profits to trial a telegraphic transfer. Margaret reported that these trials arrived promptly, making way for further transfers using donated funds.

“Father Augustine keeps in contact by email. He provides regular updates and photos. Currently, over 1100 podoconiosis sufferers travel significant distances for the medical assistance Father and his helpers provide,” said Margaret. Father Augustine “is in the process of digging a well and storing water for the community – both for personal use and to improve hygiene which will assist in the relief and reduce the incidence of the podoconiosis. The Committee plans to assist with the construction of a water tank and, currently, is supporting the construction of a shed for the treatment as well the purchase of donkeys, medicines and protective shoes. In the future, Father Augustine plans to construct toilets and improved community housing.”

St Veronica is a registered charity run entirely by unpaid volunteers who ensure 100 per cent of donations to appeals and sponsorships reach their beneficiaries. The team supports education sponsorship for school-aged children and tertiary students, and poverty relief projects in the Asia Pacific region, including communities in India, Sri Lanka, East Timore, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and the Soloman Islands.

Readers also enjoyed this story about TOMRA Recycling donating to flood relief.