Supporting women to achieve their potential
Mary Ward International Australia (MWIA) enables women and children to receive the education necessary to transform their lives. In doing so, MWIA continues a legacy ignited 400 years ago, by Mary Ward, founder of the Loreto Sisters. It was her belief that women should be educated and ‘in time will come to do much’ and indeed we are ‘doing much’. From the early days when Mother Gonzaga Barry founded a teachers’ college in Australia over 110 years ago, the Loreto Sisters and their colleagues have expanded into tertiary and adult education throughout Australia and South East Asia.
With the support of generous donors the Loreto Sisters in Vietnam have successfully established two hostels in Ho Chi Minh City, providing safety and support to assist poor students from rural areas finish their tertiary education. The Mary Ward Hostel has operated since 2013 and the St Mary Hostel since 2014. Between the two hostels accommodation for over 50 young women is provided.
The students come from very poor rural families throughout Vietnam which makes them a particularly vulnerable group in Ho Chi Minh City. For many, this is the first time they have left their families to live independently. Most students have part-time jobs to support their studies and send a small amount of money back to their families. However, this work often means study takes second place and many do not complete their degrees.
Providing financial support lifts this burden. The MWIA grant offers bursaries, each year, to support up to 10 rural students in the IBVM hostels. It covers a significant part of their financial needs. The Sisters are passionate about assisting students to stand on their own feet and continue their study. This support alleviates the financial strain on their parents who have very small incomes.
“Care of faith and education remain central to our tradition. Whether we work in justice, welfare, spiritual, academic, youth or other ministries, we bring the witness of faith and spirituality and the freedom of education to whatever we do.”
– IBVM Constitutions Vol II. 2.10
As Pope Francis points out, “True Mercy, the mercy of God gives to us and teaches us, demands justice; it demands that the poor find the way to be poor no longer”.
Words: MWIA Communications Manager, Elouise Hahn