• How do you solve a problem like Maria?

    Posted by Micah Challenge

    4 September, 2012

    I can’t believe it’s less than two weeks until Voices For Justice 2012!  I have been to the past five Voices for Justice but I think this year’s is crucial.  I sense there has been a change in attitudes over the past few years. Everyone is more concerned about their own future and is less generous towards others. I want to be part of the voices saying we can and should look after more than just me and my kin. I want to be part of God’s plan to care for the poor and marginalised in our world.

    Over the years I have met so many inspiring people – both speakers and other “voices.”  At Voices For Justice 2009 I met a lady called Maria. I learnt so much from spending the four days of Voices with her. 

    Maria was born in the developing world, in a country with a corrupt government. She was amazed at our Parliament House and our system of government and could not believe that we could just walk in, watch what was happening and actually meet with our local politicians. Anne Camac with Member for Banks, Daryl Melham, at Voices for Justice 2009Anne Camac with Member for Banks, Daryl Melham, at Voices for Justice 2009Anne Camac with Member for Banks, Daryl Melham, at Voices for Justice 2009

    Meeting her certainly made me realise how privileged we are to live in a democracy where not only do we vote in fair and transparent elections, but we have easy access to meet with our local members and tell them what we think, believe and feel.

    During our first lobby group meeting Maria told me that her church had asked her to come to look after the youth they had sent. She said that she had nothing to say to politicians. There was no way we were letting her get away with that! By the end of our advocacy training sessions Maria was thinking she may say something and then by Tuesday she was ready to speak.

    The focus for 2009 Voices For Justice was maternal health and Maria and our group met with Peter Costello. She was able to tell him her story – a child given up for adoption because her mother couldn’t afford to look after her, a loving adoptive family who helped her go to school, to be happily married until she experienced a complicated pregnancy where her life was saved only because she had access to health care.  I remember her words to Mr. Costello: “I would have been one of those women who died.”  She asked for his support in increasing funding for maternal health. I was struck by the hard reality of poverty and how real maternal health is - how could Mr Costello have refused after hearing a story like that?

    Voices For Justice has vastly expanded my awareness and knowledge of extreme poverty and advocacy for the global poor. It has empowered me to see what I and world governments can do to help prevent the suffering that poverty causes. I have the confidence to speak to my local member who now knows me by name and expects my input each year. But most of all I have been inspired, encouraged and challenged by my fellow participants. Voices For Justice is a direct demonstration of the fact that we are part of God’s plan to care for the poor and marginalised.

    ___________________

    Anne Camac has attended the last five Voices for Justice events in Canberra and regularly lobbies her local MP, Daryl Melham, on behalf of the poor.