FATHER George Sigamony loved talking to children about Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion each year.
He fondly remembered a talk he gave to a group of school children about the daily struggles of a small girl growing up in Africa.
One of the school children approached him after his talk and held out a gold coin.
It had been going towards a treat at tuckshop but the child offered it to Fr Sigamony instead, and said, “I love her and I want to care for her, and if I can collect more money, I’ll send it to her”.
“That was a really touching moment … how kids feel – they’re really genuine and really want to do something,” he said.
Fr Sigamony was Caritas Australia’s community engagement manager and had served as Caritas Sri Lanka national director from 2009 to 2016.
He was in Brisbane recently visiting parishes and schools to share the message of Project Compassion.
He said there were so many children around the world suffering.
“Us in Australia are so blessed,” he said.
Fr Sigamony urged Australians to look past self-interest and learn to “feel with other people and be part of other people’s suffering”.
Brisbane archdiocese Caritas director Andrew Knife said taking the message to young people was especially important.
“Even though they’re young, every bit they do, every small amount they do, adds towards the whole,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re Prep kids or Year 12, the heart of the message is the same – even your small amount makes it possible to help these kids all around the world.”
It was Mr Knife’s first Project Compassion, having only stepped into his new role last year, but he was already impressed.
He said at the two launches he had been to – one at St Stephen’s Cathedral and one at Iona College – there had been so many “social justice-minded young people” eager to make a change and inspire their peers.
Mr Knife said the most amazing thing was that the students were sharing experiences from each other to better bring awareness to their friends.
Project Compassion runs for the duration of Lent and you can donate or learn more at: lent.caritas.org.au/ – Joe Higgins