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The Story

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Operation Hope had its beginnings in Sri Lanka in the early 1930s when the Dematagoda Christian Guild (DCG) was founded by the late Shelton Schokman Snr on September 8th, 1934. The Guild ran an interdenominational Sunday School with the aim of supporting and encouraging the local children. They also visited and provided welfare to the sick, elderly and those living in poverty.

 In 1972, Shelton who was 81 years, decided to migrate to Australia to be with his family. However, he wanted to make sure the work of the Guild would continue, so he set up a trust fund with the Salvation Army in Sri Lanka and a bank account here in Australia. In 1976, he passed the leadership of the Guild to his son and daughter in law, Charles and Claudette Schokman. Together they founded the Australia Sri Lanka Welfare Guild as an auxiliary of the DCG. In later years the ASWG parted ways with the DCG, both becoming independent identities. The DCG continued to partner with local organisations in Sri Lanka providing financial support for individuals, families and communities.

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In July 2005 the administrators of the DCG in Australia went to Sri Lanka to help with the recovery efforts for those affected by the 2004 Asian Tsunami. Due to the enormous amount of support received, the DCG decided to incorporate to reflect their growing work. So, on the 8th of October 2005, Operation Hope Inc was officially registered. Although remaining on the Operation Hope board, Charles and Claudette passed the leadership of the organisation to their daughter and son in law, Fiona and Chris Grech.

 

In 2010, Chris and Fiona visited Swaziland to evaluate a previously funded water project. Seeing the devastation brought about by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the abject poverty and the lack of opportunities, they decided to partner with the local Swazis to facilitate community development projects and so Operation Hope Swaziland was registered and became OHI’s local partner.

 

OHI also partnered with various organisations both local and Australian to deliver project support to Sri Lanka, with a key partnership developed with Leads in 2013, focussing on livelihoods, education and child protection.

 

Over the last 16 years Operation Hope has partnered in various local community development projects in both Sri Lanka and Swaziland (now eSwatini).

 

Some of OHI key achievements have been:

  • Emergency Relief support (food, tools, educational supplies) through Sri Lankan floods, Tsunami and Covid-19

  • Education support with school materials, musical instruments, computers, uniforms, school fees, tutoring and vocational and tertiary training

  • Orphan Care

  • Livelihood support in the form of gardens and agricultural inputs to 71 families

  • Training and empowering the local Swazi team

  • Training and development of Swazi community workers

  • Development and outworking of the Sister Act program to 520 girls (sanitary health program)

  • Development and outworking of the Small Change program to 60 individuals (Micro finance and training)

  • Provision of housing to 33 families

  • Provision of water tanks to 42 families

  • Mealie Meal emergency food support to over 100 families

  • 6 classrooms built

  • Female school toilet block built

  • Toilet block in a vocational training institute built

  • Community milling house built

  • Chicken house, training and business support for a community with disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OHI has operated with a wonderfully dedicated board and many volunteers, a key group being The Evergreens, a group of senior citizens that have advocated and fundraised for OHI’s many projects. With the support of its many volunteers and donors OHI has been able to develop and implement these projects and programs.

 

The ability to grow, expand and deepen their partnerships and work was however limited by their size and capacity. Not wanting to compromise what had been built for the last 87 years, they needed to find a solution that was more sustainable for the future, a solution that would help to continue their work, where partnership and collaboration was key.

 

The merge with Compelled By Love was the perfect solution. Compelled By Love not only share a similar philosophy, mission and vision with Operation Hope, but the values are also very aligned. So, after many conversations, meetings and prayer, Operation Hope merged with Compelled By Love at the start of July 2021.

 

This exciting new phase will ensure OHI’s 87-year legacy that was started by Shelton Schokman Snr in Sri Lanka will continue, that resources will be shared and maximised, that the work will be more efficient and as a result, the impact increased. Although DCG’s name has gone through many changes through the years the legacy will continue through the merge with CBL.