Being Aware in times of challenge and change

Grace Lutheran College has been partnering with schools in Indonesia since 2006. For many students and staff, the partnering program becomes a highlight of the years they spend at Grace College – connecting with like-minded peers and forming friendships that will last a lifetime.

In 2020, students around the world faced new and unfamiliar challenges. While Grace students were working hard adapting to online learning, our sister schools in Indonesia were experiencing a COVID-19 world with trials greater than most. When we checked in with our sister schools, it was clear that the crisis was having a devastating impact on lives and education.

For many families in Indonesia, the emergency of COVID-19 has been financially devastating. Many farmers and street vendors have been unable to sell their crops and merchandise. The situation for these families has become desperate, with many unable to afford food and other basic needs, let alone pay school fees. We learned that teachers in our sister schools have been going house-to-house during the COVID-19 lockdown, to teach students who did not have internet access in their homes. These teachers have also taken up collections from their own limited resources to buy food for the poorest school families. What amazing dedication!

It was clear that we had an opportunity to do more and when challenges present, the Grace community never fails to rise to the occasion.

The call for help went out on social media on June 12; photos and a few words sharing some details of the needs in our sister schools and the amazing work already being done by the local teaching community. In the first week, over $2000 was raised to provide support to the students and teaching staff of our partnership. More events and opportunities appeared, and our students, staff and families continued to rally around every chance to contribute. Some dressed their best in support of fundraising Aware Days, while others took their choc-box out to seek patronage from the community (and often their own pockets).

‘Aware’ days are dedicated to raising awareness and organising practical support for projects which we support. They are opportunities for advocacy, as well as being expressions of service-learning. Awareness raising can be through interactive or visual displays on stalls and ‘Aware’ days often involve fund-raising to provide practical support to those in need.

The impact of ‘Aware’ days however, goes beyond the dollars donated:

“The Aware Day was an amazing opportunity to get involved and help out. It was so much fun and great to see the difference being made” (Bella, Year 11),

“The Aware Day was fun because the events were popular with the students and well organised. I had a lot of fun helping distribute the food and collecting money!” (Adedayo Bolarinwa, Year 11),

“The vibe of the day was really fun! It was awesome to support a good cause and make a real impact,” (Molly Leyland, Year 11).

Fundraising for this project raised over $7500 and this support provided for over 200 family food packs, 100 internet data packs and 160 school fee subsidies. At a time of financial uncertainty in Australia, it has been inspiring to see such wonderful generosity from the Grace community. The money we raised speaks volumes to our Indonesian friends about the care we have for them and we have been touched to hear words of appreciation from our Indonesian friends:

“We are touched by the generosity of all of you in Australia especially GLC… We all (leaders, teachers, staff and students) are grateful for your generosity and kindness to us here…we are very touched… by all the efforts you have put in to raise these funds. We are very inspired and hope that one day we can do good as you do for people in need “ (Mrs Tutiyana, English teacher/translator in HKBP Lawe Sigalagala, Aceh province)

“We really want to say thank you for your kindness and (for) the team who want to share with us here… We can feel that God’s love is showing through you. Tuhan Memberkati and semua (God bless you all)!”

‘Aware’ days have become a large part of community life at Grace College. We feel very blessed to have experienced such an outpouring of support and to have the opportunity to be ‘Aware’ in these times of challenge and change.

The need is still great for the teachers in Lutheran schools in Indonesia, as a second wave of COVID-19 is going through the country.

Please contact LCA International Mission if you would like to make a donation, supporting this need which is so close to home within our church and school family.