2024-05-14 AUSTRALIA

Life in the LaValla200> community of Mount Druitt

The LaValla200> community of Mount Druitt (Australia) is currently made up of Kimberly Camiring (Philippines), H. Lawrie McCane (Australia), Ruben Galego and Silvia Martinez (Spain).
Mt Druitt is an outer suburb of Sydney, regarded as among the most socially disadvantaged in Australia. Its main ministry is to support the operation of the Marist Learning Zone, a joint project of the Marists and Catholic Education. Their aim is to re-integrate students who are currently not attending school.
The community members have established ties with the local aboriginal community and assist in homework tutoring and cultural activities. The community lives in a rented house near the centre of Mt Druitt.
We reproduce below the testimony of the couple Silvia Martínez and Rubén Galego, shared on the Compostela Province website.

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With the beginning of the year 2024, our third year as part of this Lavalla200> international communities project began, as well as a new school year in Marist Learning Zone (MLZ).

In early 2023, Kimberly, a Filipino teacher, joined the community; a breath of fresh air that revitalized the community, but this was not the only thing that happened. At the beginning of the second quarter there were changes in the management of MLZ. This had other consequences. The center was not accepting new applications from students and the number was gradually reducing, and in the face of adversity the community looked for a new opportunity to continue promoting one of the principles of the mission: reaching disadvantaged children. This is how we began our collaboration with Story Factory, a non-profit organization that carries out creative writing programs for children and young people from communities with few resources.

This initiative complements our ministry here since we go to public schools with fewer resources and with many Aboriginal students. It has been a very enriching experience for all of us, with which we plan to continue collaborating, without leaving aside our daily work at MLZ or our collaboration with the Baabayn aboriginal association, which we continue to help by going every Tuesday to the Homework Club for primary school students, as well as giving them a hand in the events they organize.

Another big change we had was moving house. The owner of the house we were renting wanted to live there again, and so the community, with the help of our province in Australia, had to find a new residence. After almost more than 2 months of searching, we finally found one and now we can say that we have a new home in which all members of the community feel “at home.” A house to which we usually invite other Marist brothers or friends. We like to say that our house is always open to everyone so that they can learn about the work we do within our project.

Marist Learning Zone remains a priority for us, and, alluding to this year’s motto proposed by the Marists of Europe, we also want our students to feel that “they are at home”. Brother Ernesto, Superior General, said: “My home was the place where I felt very loved, where I learned to be “myself”, where I was welcomed, cared for and, sometimes, also corrected.” We wish that for them, that they feel cared for, welcomed, considerate, celebrated for their differences. We give them personalized attention to help them improve and advance, we want to be their beacon of hope, that light that guides them and helps them shine; as this year’s motto “First Light” of our province Star of the Sea also says; and to which Matthew 5:14-16 referred: “You are the light of the world. …Let your light shine…”. Jesus invites us to shine, to be that light in society that makes a positive difference, to light the way for others.

And speaking of feeling welcomed, cared for and loved, we cannot fail to mention the Marist association of which we have been members since we arrived, Marist Association of St. Marcellin

Champagnat, and especially our local group: Sydney City Marists. On the third day of being in Australia we attended the first meeting, and, from that very moment, they made us feel part of the Marist family that they have formed there. They have made our stay in Australia much better.

Every month we have meetings that everyone in the community attends. In these meetings we talk about the future of pastoral care, spirituality, and the Marist community, but also about how we are and how we feel. In the last one they organized a walk and, even though the weather was not good, the day was fabulous just for the fact of sharing moments with them.

Going back to the words of Brother Ernesto, home is where you feel loved, welcomed, and cared for; We are lucky to feel this way in Australia and we hope our students feel this way too. You can follow the Mount Druit LaValla200> community on FaceBook and Instagram.

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