“We were hoping to help with this and also with getting the children school uniforms – white shirts and grey flannel trousers, school books and stationery. “Many of them don’t have any shoes either.”
Fundraising for a number of months before the trip, the sisters are hoping to “buy all of these clothes and supplies in bulk” upon arrival.
“Our most popular fundraisers have been our craft and baking mornings held over two days in the week leading up to Christmas,” Bernadette said.
“Mums were happy to drop the children off allowing them time to finish last-minute Christmas shopping and the kids had an absolute ball.
“We iced and decorated cookies and cakes, made Christmas cards, decorations, Santa wish lists, did colouring-in, played many fun games, listened to stories and sang Christmas carols.”
Raising more than $2000, the young women are open to receiving more donations.
“I think people underestimate the impact they can have on the lives of children and their communities,” Bernadette said.
“God calls each and every one of us to be missionaries.
“Whilst we can’t all give up weeks, months or years to work in the missions, we can still support those who are able to and we can still make a great difference to so many people’s lives by such a small contribution.”
Bernadette, Claire and Katie were born in Durban, South Africa, “continually confronted with the poor”.
“They have always been a part of our lives,” Bernadette said.
“Our grandmother has always been very heavily involved with the poor, the orphanages, AIDS babies … (and) from a young age she made us aware that poor people also like nice things.
“She showed us that even the smallest sacrifices we made for the poor would do so much good and bring a great deal of happiness.”
Since their arrival in Australia the family “did not ever want to forget about the poor” and “decided to raise money and still help out and do good even from halfway across the world”.
Their shared faith has spurred their compassionate outreach.
“Our faith has always been a huge part of our lives,” Claire said.
“We have been brought up in the Catholic faith and are involved in the life of the Church.”
The sisters are active Catholics and Bernadette is part of a weekly adoration group for young adults. She also goes to daily Mass.
They agree their parents and grandmother have influenced their faith lives profoundly.
“Mum and Dad lead by example and are the most wonderful, loving, caring and kind people I have ever met,” Bernadette said.
“They remind us daily of our relationship with Christ. “Our grandmother has also had a great impact on our faith journey as she is another strong woman who leads by example.”
Admitting they “do almost everything together”, the former Brigidine College, Indooroopilly, students are “best friends” and would be “completely lost” without each other.
Also feeling “blessed to have Fr Francis (Onwunali)” as their parish priest, Bernadette, Claire and Katie are travelling light these holidays with their minds set on giving rather than receiving.
To contact them, even while they are overseas, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0408 719 342.
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.
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