Maronites on Mission food truck proves that a hearty
feed can make all the difference to the homeless

– Published in the Daily Telegraph and The Canterbury Bankstown Express on 4 July 2017.

On A bitter Sydney night, bangers and mash are a godsend to Daniel Cotter. Mr Cotter, 35, has been homeless for 15 years and a year ago he weighed just 60kg.But since then he has visited Maronites on Mission’s weekly food van in Woolloomooloo and put on 20kg.

“The regularity of a meal makes all the difference,” Mr Cotter said.
“If you don’t have to worry about food you can concentrate on other things.”

Mr Cotter is just one of hundreds of homeless people that are helped by Maronites on a Mission — a supporter of this year’s Do Something Day. Do Something Day on July 19 is an initiative of NewsLocal newspapers, ClubsNSW and Do Something Near You to promote volunteering, highlight charity work and inspire random acts of kindness.

Since 2013, the Punchbowl charity Maronites on Mission has loaded up its van with 200 hot meals and transported them each week to six outreach centres across the city.

That’s 17,000 meals and conversations, says Charbel Azzi, one of the directors of Maronites on Mission.

“Our clients are beautiful people who, in many circumstances, are homeless due to severely unfortunate or unlucky circumstances,” Mr Azzi said.

“It’s not just about the food though, it’s about talking and companionship.” Last Thursday’s hot meal was provided by Canterbury League Club — and cheers for the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs could be heard as the van pulled up to the waiting crowd. Canterbury League Club has been a long-time supporter of Maronites on Mission, donating $165,000 in cash and in-kind support since 2013. On the last Thursday of each month, the club provide food and six volunteers to help hand out the meals.

Canterbury League Club chairman Dr George Peponis said the club’s partnership with the Maronites had been one of the “highlights” of its community program.“Homelessness affects almost 41 out of every 10,000 people,” Dr Peponis said. “Winter time is especially difficult, so a warm and nutritiously balanced meal can really make a difference to someone’s night.”

Charbel’s Missionary Work in the Phillipines

We are back home from the Philippines and it was definitely a trip to remember! When you see the poverty there, you can’t help but think how blessed we are to live in a country where just about everything is provided for us. Despite the widespread poverty there, the Filipinos seem to have a great community spirit, they tend to support and look after each other and overall seem to be happy and joyful. The missionaries of the poor (MOP) were an inspiration to all of us, it is amazing how young men, most of them between the ages of 16-24 have dedicated their entire lives to serving the poor. The`y spend the majority of their daily lives in service of others. If they are not feeding the mentally disabled kids, then they were looking after the elderly or visiting the poor in the slums or building homes for them and if not doing any of these things you would find them doing daily chores such as washing clothes (by hand, they refuse to use washing machines) or you find them in prayer! Through them you truly see the best of humanity and Christianity put in practice. If only the rest of us were like these brothers, then God’s kingdom would truly be manifested on earth! I give thanks to God for this trip, for allowing me to spend a week with the MOP, for allowing us to help the poor (even if it is so little) and for the wonderful and generous people that we met during this trip who looked after us, invited us for meals (lunches and dinners) and were a great company and help. I would also like to thank all those who helped and contributed to our fundraising. ALL the money is going to where it is needed most (Medication, building 2 homes, food and many other worthy causes). Now we are back home safely, hopefully this experience will have a lasting effect and will teach us to always be of service to others and to be content and thankful for what we have.


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