EIGHTEEN year-old Sam Hodge has not let spina bifida slow him down from pursuing a calling to help young refugees in Asia.
Sam, from Milton in Brisbane, has returned from a month-long trip to Thailand and Cambodia visiting orphanages and refugee camps with a Marist Mission group.
He plans to return to Thailand mid-year to help refugees at Maesot on the Thai-Burma border.
Sam, who is confined to a wheelchair, plans to raise funds to help establish disabled access to a camp called Maera Moo.
‘It’s all red dirt, there is no disabled access. While I was there I had to get my friends to carry me where I wanted to go,’ he said.
Sam, who left Australia on December 18, said the trip was part of an Australia Pacific Youth Development Program through Marist Mission.
Sam said it followed a chance meeting with the executive director of the Marist Mission Centre in Australia, Fr Ron Nissen, at a Mass for East Timor at The Gap in Brisbane last August.
‘He asked me what my commitment was to refugees and to the underprivileged of the world and whether I would be committed to leadership and planning for such issues.’
Sam’s commitment led to an invitation to take part in the small group which included young people from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Australia, two Franciscan Brothers, a Marist Father from the Philippines and a Marist Brother from Vanuatu.
He said while he was overseas he undertook a 12-day leadership and planning seminar as well as camp visits.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.