Introduction to the Immersion Experience
We are ambassadors of St Canice Parish in its long-time involvement with Railaco.
Our visit to Timor is an ‘immersion’ experience. It’s not an institutional or administrative campaign to rally support. As ordinary people, we go to Railaco to listen to the voices of others who speak of ordinary needs.
This is grassroots. Hopefully, we then return home to share our personal experiences, in order to inform the wider parish about future opportunities and involvements. Hearing our stories, other parishioners may be inspired to tap into their own networks, in support of a valid cause – less fortunate people in a nearby land, to whom we owe a great deal.
The idea of the Missions with romantic undertones of feeding the children in far-off lands belongs to another era. Ironically, even modern secular charities often play that theme: ‘we know what’s best, your role is to donate’. Yet we know that a large portion is absorbed in administrative overheads.
In favourable contrast, for Railaco, donations go to the Australian Jesuit Mission Overseas Mission Aid Fund ABN 47 915 006 050 where only meagre overheads are required to cover costs of regulatory compliance. Thankfully, Jesuits working on the frontiers are trustworthy and use every dollar caringly.
The great contemporary challenges are grassroots involvement and accountability. People need to be assured that their pennies hit the ground for real and ordinary projects. A better understanding of how Railaco Mission serves the people of Railaco through these projects is the primary purpose of our immersion. We are not simply called to offer our neighbour charity but to engage in deep solidarity. On an immersion experience such as this, we enter into friendships which can move us to live differently; to act on their behalf with a certain passion for justice issues.
Michael Musgrave, 22 January 2019