Our Mission in Action
In 2022, we continue to strive for the betterment of women, children, and communities. Together with our project partners, Sisters, and the wider Loreto community, we aim to achieve a great deal this year. We are pleased to support three new projects in 2022 – The Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub in Balgo, Western Australia; the Water Access project in Ostico, Timor-Leste; and the Child Rights Community Education project in Ate Vitarte – Huaycán, Peru. These projects support our purpose of creating ethical and sustainable change and nurture our vision of a just world.
Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub, Australia
Balgo (Wirrimanu) is one of Australia’s most remote Aboriginal communities, located in the south-east Kimberley region of Western Australia on the northern edge of the Great Sandy Desert and the western edge of the Tanami Desert. Women in Balgo experience extreme economic marginalisation and face unique social and environmental challenges when accessing training, education, and employment. These pressures are compounded by poor mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. Most women in the community have little to no experience or knowledge of business and entrepreneurial concepts.
The Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub focuses on activating community leadership and building the skills of local Indigenous women. This project will ensure a permanent home and solid foundation to launch other culturally based microenterprises. The new home will support the community in developing women’s business and retail skills, producing bush products and medicine, and other arts-based enterprises such as jewellery making. The hub will build confidence and job readiness. Importantly, it will foster the long-term health and wellbeing of young women through a focus on culturally meaningful and purposeful activities.
Water Access, Timor-Leste
Over the past four years, the Loreto Sisters have been working with the Ostico community on a range of initiatives that promote their fundamental human rights. This new project focuses on providing the village with an accessible source of clean water.
The townspeople of Ostico identified the need for improved water access for the farming community and the town itself. In late 2021, the local community assisted in locating an underground stream and constructing a bore. The village now turns its attention to setting up a series of tanks and pipes to distribute the water throughout the town.
This project will majorly impact women and girls who currently access water from a contaminated stream about two kilometres from home. Each day, these women and girls cart approximately two dozen plastic bottles to the stream, fill each bottle, and then carry them home along a dirt road. Once home, they must boil the water before it can be used. This process alone can take hours per day. Through this initiative, approximately 500 families living in Ostico will have clean water near their homes.
Child Rights Community Education, Peru
Violence against children is an ever-increasing social problem in Peru, evident through the growing number of child victims of violence cases documented by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – approximately 20,551 to date. Most perpetrators are trusted adults within a child’s family, society, or school.
This project seeks to work with children and adults to prevent violence and its associated developmental impacts, reduce the social tolerance for mistreatment and promote community-wide awareness of the issues. To ensure the project’s success, specific modules will be designed to address the individual and social characteristics of the community and develop themes on self-care and the prevention of sexual violence in children and adolescents.
Vital projects such as these fulfil the mission of Mary Ward International Australia and further work towards the UN (United Nations) Sustainable Development Goals, which strive to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. We look forward to sharing progress, stories of change, and news of our broader impact with the Loreto community across the year.
Author: Kirstin Del Beato, Projects & Partnerships Manager, Mary Ward International Australia
Feature Image: Ladies from the Piriwa Op Shop and Enterprise Hub