Kerry Povey, Chair of the International Partnerships and Development Commission, delivered a report to the 45th Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA on Saturday, highlighting the work of the commission.
Kerry explained that the commission is engaged with four key partners, in West Papua, Timor Leste, West Timor, and Sri Lanka.
In West Papua, the Black Pearl Network’s English Course has grown from one centre offering English language courses to a program offering courses in 13 locations across Papua and West Papua.
“Although COVID has impacted significantly, the teachers have kept going online and we’ve still managed to keep going,” Kerry said.
In June this year, teachers in the program participated in their second training course, and a group of teachers in Perth offered support.
The commission has also supported the Black Pearl Network through the Clear Water Program. Engineer and Uniting Church WA member, David Scott, has been working closely with a group in Papua and Engineers Without Borders to improve water quality.
In Timor Leste, the commission works with Lafaek Diak as they deliver health care in remote villages via a mobile medical unit.
In West Timor, scholarships are given to university students to help them complete their education. Seventeen scholarships have been awarded this year.
And in Sri Lanka, the Uniting Church WA supports an interfaith preschool program. This program is currently struggling due to COVID-19.
Emergency relief has also been delivered to our partners in the wake of Cyclone Seroja.
Kerry reminded members of the Synod of the importance of our work operating in line with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), and therefore reporting to the International Partnerships and Development Commission about what international projects they are involved in.
“We’ve sent out letters to all of the Uniting Churches to find out what projects we’re involved in,” Kerry said. “It’s important that they are all meeting the ACNC standards because we’re representing the Uniting Church when we make those donations.
“If you haven’t replied yet we’d like to hear from you. We’d just like to know that we’re doing the right thing with our money.”
Kerry also invited members to take part in the Trek for Timor, raising money for the commission, and offered the opportunity for a member of the commission to present at their faith communities or groups. To find out more, email Geoff Bice at firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’d like to acknowledge those congregations that support us on a regular basis,” Kerry said. “We’d just like to say how much we appreciate your support.
“We’re a very small group of people and our partnerships rely hugely on the generous donations of the Uniting Church. Without your support we can’t keep doing what we do so we are very grateful to you all.”
A proposal to commit to praying and acting with the people of West Papua and to stand in solidarity with the West Papua Council of Churches and our partner church GKI-TP passed by consensus.
The proposal was moved by Rev Judy Sanderson, and also commits the church to communicate our concerns about human rights violations, militarisation, and environmental impacts in the Papuan and West Papuan provinces of Indonesia to the Australian Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, and to encourage members to write to the Federal Minister and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs to highlight these concerns.