3The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia supports fellow Vincentians to undertake their good works in our partnered countries in the Asia Pacific region through twinning, project support, the Assista-Student Program and emergency responses.
The direct link between two conferences or councils is called twinning. Twinning promotes spirituality, friendship and understanding between cultures and consists of prayer, regular communication and financial support. Twinning at the council level builds the capacity of the Society in overseas countries with funds provided to support councils in managing the Society’s affairs in their region.
Australian Conferences currently have twins with over 2,000 conferences in the south-east Asian countries of India, Sri Lanka, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, and Pacific Island nations of Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
There are 1,121 conferences and councils in Australia that support overseas conferences in the twinning program. Of that, 554 conferences support more than one twin.
Conferences in the Asia Pacific region can request support from their Australian twin, through their national council, for a small project to address a specific need in their area. Examples of projects supported are providing training and seedlings for farmers to produce coffee, wet grinders for making food pastes for sale in a small business, a school lunch program and a grass broom making project. It is important to note that projects are initiated by overseas twins with their national council, and are designed to help people in the community, that the overseas conference supports, become self-sufficient.
Unique to Australia, the Assist-a-Student Program recognises the importance of education as one of the key planks to help break the cycle of poverty. The positive flow-on effects are often felt by family members and the community when a person is given the opportunity to gain an education, as well as by the individual themselves. Funding is provided on an annual basis to countries supported, who identify and select students to be supported through conference members.
From time to time, in response to a natural disaster, the National Council of Australia provides funds to the national council of the affected country, where it has been identified that there are Vincentians within the community affected who have the capacity and skills to manage and distribute funds to people in affected areas.
Small Project in Myanmar – Ozanam Natural and Organic Cosmetics
Seeing a need and market for more affordable and safe physical hygiene and beauty products in Myanmar, St Peter’s Conference in Mandalay submitted a project proposal through their National Council last year. The project application requested funds to set up a workshop and provide training for young people to manufacture handmade organic soaps and cosmetics. Small business training was also included to build the capacity of young people trained to seek employment or commence self-employment.
An active member of the conference volunteered to provide the training required from her own skills and small business experience. While providing income for the youth involved, the project also provides some profits to the conference for its continued good works, and in bringing Christ to local ‘Friends in Need’.
This project is unique in that is has been initiated, developed and driven by young people, as well as benefitting young members of the local community. The project workshop has been completed and three training sessions undertaken, with 57 young men and women being trained.
The Ozanam Natural and Organic Cosmetic business is licenced and registered to operate in Myanmar