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A Marist Noel 2024 launch

Across the past few years, Marist180 has annually committed to our ‘Marist Noel’ initiative. This has grown and developed, as we are committed to providing a Christmas gift for every child and young person in our care.

The Commonwealth Bank very generously agreed this year to hosting a cocktail event to launch this iteration of Marist Noel. Late July 4, 70 people from corporate, state, Church and for purpose sectors gathered at the Commonwealth Bank offices and hospitality space in Darling Harbour, to focus on Marist180 generally, and Marist Noel specifically.

The harbourside played host to a fantastic gathering and bringing together of people. The energy in the room was warm, welcoming, engaged and very much attuned to how Marist180, in mission, message and in practice, is deeply committed to ‘creating positive change’.

Our CEO, Peter Monaghan, shared with the gathering the history and evolution of our work, our ministry from 1896 until now, highlighting that whilst the form and the mode of service has changed, the needs and cries of and from many on the margins of our community remain-and have grown in their number, variety and complexity.

A real highlight of the launch was having Marist 180 Board Member and highly accomplished journalist, Mike Munro, in conversation with two former clients of Marist180, Paige Ferreira and Najib Rassa.

Paige recounted some of her challenges, experiences and insights, which included leaving home at 11, homelessness, being in Marist180 care, navigating all that her teenage years presented with a deep desire to, coming into adulthood, work with young people. Today, Paige is one of our Senior Therapeutic Specialists, leading colleagues and supporting young people in Newcastle and Orange, having significant years of study and qualifications, life and work experiences informing and infusing her passion and desire to make, to create positive change.

As a member of the persecuted Hazara minority, Najib fled the volatility and violence of his native Afghanistan at age 13, without family or support. Two trips on boats with people smugglers, via Iran/Indonesia, Najib landed on Christmas Island, stateless, without identity papers, and subject to the determinations and directions of bureaucrats from afar. After time in a Tasmanian Detention Centre, Najib came into the care of Marist180 as part of our Unaccompanied Minors (now Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors) program. Steep learning curves-language, culture, education, health systems, to name a few-were enthusiastically embraced by Najib. Fast forward to now, Najib is now a qualified Civil Engineer working on Sydney infrastructure projects and providing advocacy and a voice for those now facing many of the challenges and difficulties he encountered as a refugee.

As Mike rightly observed, both Paige and Najib have displayed great courage, poise, grit and persistence, a steely determination which is evident in their words, in and through their stories. Their stories sit alongside hundreds of those, now adults, who benefitted from the care, support and dedication of Marist180 staff, past and present.

As hospitality and conversations flowed, a significant number of those present commented on the impressive input and reflections from Paige and Najib, the life changing nature of the Marist180 work, and the worthiness and importance of creating a memorable and meaningful Christmas for the children and young people in our care. Our fundraising target for 2024 is $50000, which will provide Christmas gifts for the more than 200+ children and young people in the care of Marist180.                                                                                                                                                                       


A final word from one of our guests, who offered the following (paraphrased) as they headed forth into a wintry night:


‘The gathering and launch were fantastic, filled with warmth and hospitality. The Commonwealth Bank staff were incredibly welcoming, and Marist180 Board and staff were so evidently passionate about their work and the challenging and privileged role they have, they play in this. I left with a sense of admiration for the work they do and their resolve, their commitment to supporting and empowering young people and their families.’



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