How to be a Good Samaritan in the 21st Century. 

How we choose to become a Samaritan in the 21st Century is different for us all. Below I interviewed 3 Maronites who work in ‘Good Samaritan’ organisations in Australia.

  • Kim Moussa is a Conference President of the St Vincent de Paul Society. 
  • Charlie Taouk is the founding Director of Maronites on Mission Australia.
  • Daniel Nour is content specialist at Caritas Australia.

What does your organisations do?

Kim: We are a lay Catholic organisation that has a mix of volunteers and paid members who strive to live the gospel by assisting those in need. We aim to provide food, shelter and spiritual wellbeing as well as contributing in making a more just society.

Charlie: We are a benevolent organisation that helps and serves the poorest of the poor.  An organisation run solely on volunteer labour and donations. 

 In Sydney, our services include: 

  •       Soup kitchen, Redfern; 

  •       Tuesday weekly food run to Burwood and Glebe;

  •       Thursday weekly food run to Woolloomooloo & Martin Place;

  •       Sunday weekly food run to Parramatta Park.  

  •       Home visits: we service up to 30 families on a weekly or fortnightly basis, assisting with food packs or any other assistance they might need.

–       Nursing Home visits.

Internationally:
Naga, Phillipines

–       annual dental & medical missions

–       monthly food packages to over 1,000 families

–       build housing

Iraq

–       Humanitarian aid to refugees

Syria

–       Humanitarian aid to refugees

–       Built a playground for the refugee camp

–       Donations to local Bishop who dispersed to needy families in Syria & Egypt

Egypt

–       Donated towards rebuilding of bombed churches and local families affected by church bombings

Daniel: we are a humanitarian organisation specialising in international development. We want a just world where all have the means to live with dignity as members of the one human family is the goal of Caritas Australia. I am a content specialist at Caritas Australia, writing press releases and the donor magazine ‘Caritas News.’ I also cut videos and create printed materials other than the magazine.

How do you carry the roles out?

Kim: we undertake home visits and assess those in need. We provide food cards, furniture and clothing. We also speak to people who may just want some company or advice. We lend a helping hand to those with financial or emotional stress.

Charlie: The roles are all met by volunteers, from preparing and serving food, home visits, fund raising events and the necessary administration that goes along with it. Basically it takes a team of minimum 30-40 regular weekly volunteers which are mostly made up of parishioners from St Joseph’ Croydon, St Charbel’s Punchbowl, Our Lady of Lebanon Harris Park, St Maroun’s Redfern

Daniel: I complete my work at Caritas in liaison with many other colleagues within an advocacy and communications team and also through close working relationships with a fundraising team. By working together we are able to create videos, write articles and generally promote the work of our agency in a timely and effective way.

Who do you target to help?

Kim: When we used to run the Vinnies van we would target the homeless and poor. Now we help through our call centre, especially for those of low income and are struggling with something in their lives. 

Charlie: The poorest of the poor, struggling families, homeless, rough sleepers, troubled people. Usually the needy are referred by someone else, or we are alerted.

Daniel: The poor and marginalised in communities the world over: especially those who don’t have access to support networks through other government or private entities.

Do they (people in need) come to you?

Kim: We have a newly opened Harris Park hub where people in need can come and speak to someone for assistance. There are donated items which they can take from the centre. They can come to the Vinnies Van at Mt Druitt and Parramatta for a sandwich and coffee or tea. They also like to come for a chat and to socialise.

Charlie: Usually the needy are referred by someone else, or we are alerted to a need.

Daniel: We reach out to communities through our vast network of Caritas Australia country representatives and in tandem with the other member agencies of the Caritas Internationalis Confederation. We assess need based on the extent of poverty and the access (or lack thereof) to support services, through a deliberate and thorough analytical matrix.

Why did you join the organisation?

Kim: I felt that I needed to be involved and do something to help those in need. When a deacon came to ask for volunteers I felt it was a good opportunity to live the word of the gospel. I became the president as I felt it was something I could do even though I had a young family to raise and I trusted that God would provide me the guidance that I needed and the support. I have been president for the last 5 years.

Charlie: As one of the lucky first 9 missionaries to the Phillipines, we were inspired to found MoM on our return.  Father Joseph from the Philippines visited our Parish and invited us to come visit them.  We raised some funds to take a team of 9 volunteers over to see how we could help – it started from there. With the Phillipines we were invited there to set up a relationship with the Sisters of Charity and the Brothers of  Missionaries of the Poor. We have also been invited to and visited Iraq and Lebanon – through local bishops and recognised organisations

Daniel: I saw it as an opportunity to use my journalism to write about issues of global poverty and international development. I am able to connect with a vast community of ethnic and religious persuasions through the Caritas network and to reach my personal aim of, one day, working with and for the United Nations.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a ‘Good Samaritan’ in today’s world?

Kim: I would advise people to pray about it and trust that God will present them with an opportunity. Even if it is something small. Mother Teresa said ” It is in giving, that we receive,” which is so true when you become a volunteer. You will get so much more out of it than what you expect. Just take the first step and don’t be afraid.

Charlie: To quote Mary MacKillop: “Never see a need without doing something about it.”  Following our Christian values and carrying out our daily lives in accordance to the Gospel.

Daniel: Mother Teresa aptly summed up the way to be a Good Samaritan: “It is easy to love the people far away.  It is not always easy to love those close to us.  Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.”

St Marina-4

How can we all be Good Samaritans in Today’s world?

The people I interviewed are ordinary Maronites giving their time to the many charities around them. Kim said not to be afraid, Charlie took our first Australian saint’s advice to heart and Daniel said to follow the example of a true Saintly Samaritan.

Even if you pass by a person that is homeless, if you give to them, you may be helping them to regain their footing in their lives. I once heard from a friend to ignore thoughts that they may ‘use it to buy more drugs’. God sees that you gave out of good intention. It is not your sin if they use it for harmful things. 

You do not have to go looking for people who have been beat up by robbers like the parable that Jesus spoke of. Today that extends to those who suffer in quiet, mentally, the depressed, the anxious. Take R U OK day seriously. Ask your family if they are sincerely ok. Talk more to friends. Check up on them from time to time. 

You can also be a Good Samaritan in the way you speak to people. To speak out of charity, faith and love. To be patient, to be like a Good Samaritan, that places others before themselves. 

See more information about these organisations here: 

https://www.vinnies.org.au

http://www.maronitesonmission.com

https://www.caritas.org.au

In Christ,
Emily Dib