Rev. Melissa Lipsett, CEO

Simona was nine years old when she first joined a Child and Youth Club in a small village in Bangladesh. As a garment worker in the city (80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports are from the garment industry), Simona’s father Suresh had to travel back and forth to care for their family. Simona’s mum Pomilla struggled to find enough food for their daughters.

But when Baptist World Aid Australia’s Christian Partners organised the Child Club, life for the family began to change. Simona leant good hygiene, how to access clean water, care for a new garden and a dozen other skills that gave her the ability and confidence to help her parents and community.

That was nine years ago. Today, the 18-year-old dreams of a future in teaching. And because of the agricultural, fish farming and savings workshops Christian Partners set up for parents, Pomilla no longer worries about how to care for her children. She even sends food back with Suresh when he returns to his factory job in the city. And when COVID hit the family’s village, they knew how to respond.

‘Many changes have come because of the Baptists,’ Pomilla said. ‘We wear masks we got from the Baptists and keep clean. We don’t wear dirty clothes; we wear clean clothes. I take care to keep clean, so we don’t catch corona. I sell fish, vegetables and mangoes at the market. Simona helps the neighbours’ children. It is good.’

Simona’s family is but one example of Baptist World Aid Australia’s multi-relational approach to caring for vulnerable communities. Because someone in Australia became a Child Sponsor for Simona, and because of a longstanding relationship with Christian Partners there, workshops for children and their families could be organised, giving both the skills they would need to step out of poverty and closer to the fullness of life God intends.

As the heart and hands of Australian Baptists since 1959, Baptist World Aid Australia today works with 38 Christian Partners implementing 73 projects in 18 countries. As it navigates the distressing impact of a global pandemic, one that has pushed millions back into extreme poverty (living on $1.95US a day), Baptist World Aid Australia’s new strategic five-year plan focuses on areas where the need is greatest.

Women and children who endure most of the economic dignity gap, impoverished communities severely affected by environmental crises, and countries with the highest rates of poverty will be prioritised, alongside our best practice development, capacity building and advocacy.

COVID-19 has continued to shape not just how we personally live and work, but also how Baptist World Aid Australia and our Christian partners have responded to the most vulnerable in our world. Ours is a broken world, and with displacement from conflict and environmental crises on the rise as well, Baptist World Aid continues to invest in programs that equip Christian Partners and churches to respond urgently and regularly, whether during disasters, pandemics, or economic injustices.

Whether ensuring Baptist hospitals in Papua New Guinea remain open, supporting medical care in India and Indonesia, aiding disaster work in Tonga and Afghanistan, or securing new Child Sponsors for young people like Simona, Baptist World Aid Australia responds to God’s call for the most vulnerable in it programs, offering ongoing resources to meet specific humanitarian needs.

This is only possible because of the faithful prayers and generous financial donations of God’s people throughout Australia.

‘I want to thank Baptists because whatever I am telling now will be sent there,’ Pomilla said. ‘They will hear us. That is why we thanks to them.’