Volunteer of the Month (February)

Justin Shaw, serving at the The Two Wolves Community Cantina

Justin Shaw, serving at the The Two Wolves Community Cantina

An applause for our volunteer of the month Justin Shaw!!!
His hard work and dedication have been outstanding. Well done!! 
A little bit more about him below:

Name and age: 
Justin Shaw. 18 y.o

How long you been volunteering for? 
8 months

How many days do you volunteer? 
once every fortnight

What and where are you studying? 
Science UNSW Kensington

What are your passions? 
Playing basketball, volleyball and reading

What do you like the most about working at the Two Wolves? 
It is pretty fun, relax, and at the same time you can contribute to a good cause and learn. Two of my best mates were doing a service year in Thailand, and that motivated me to join. Great to have experience to work in the future.

How did you get to know The Two Wolves? 
I went to St Aloysius

Have you been on an immersion? 
I went to the Philippines for 3 weeks, in year 10. We were 6 days building houses in Gawad Kalinga, 5 days teaching kids and visiting hospitals. (not with the Two wolves Abroad)

What are your plans for 2017? 
Study and I would like to go to the Mexico immersion with The Two Wolves Abroad

Why would you recommend to volunteer at The Two Wolves? 
You are contributing to a good cause, there is a really nice group of people, everyone is friendly, and you feel you are doing something good

The Two Wolves Cantina Responds to the Vietnam Floods

Torrential rains started in Vietnam on 13 October causing some of the worst floods ever experienced in the provinces of Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Ha Tinh. It is believed water discharged by two large hydropower dams on 14 October, without adequate warning for communities already battling the heavy rains, added to the severity. Over 600,000 people have been directly affected by the floods, with an estimated 100,000 houses fully submerged.

The Two Wolves Community Cantina an initiative of The Cardoner Project has been able to donate 20K in emergency flood relief to the Saint Vincent Diem Centre for Children with Disability in Central Vietnam. The center is run by Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross and The Cardoner Project has been closely associated with their work in Vietnam since January 2010 when Fr. David Braithwaite SJ took the first ever immersion group there. Many of our wonderful young volunteers at The Two Wolves have visited and worked at this special place on immersions, or longer-term placements.

Since The Cardoner Project began in 2010, through the amazing generousity of our network, we have been able to donate a total of 180K to the Sisters to allow them to care for some of the most vulnerable children in their community and beyond. We have also sent over 200 young adult volunteers there to experience their deep faith and love for those in their care as part of our volunteer immersions and longer term volunteer core work. 

Lessons Learnt in Thailand

Half way through his Service Year, Tom Jenkins has a lot to say about what he has gained so far from his experience living in Thailand. 

Coming into the second half of the year has been somewhat of a shock, not only because of the realisation of the limited time I have left but also because of the speed at which this point has arrived. The past six months have been nothing less than amazing, the experiences are ones I will cherish for the rest of my life and the friendships forged will be ones that will remain strong as the years pass. Teaching has been extremely rewarding, watching the kids develop their English ability as well as seeing them grow as young people truly makes the work worthwhile. Whilst amazing, teaching the students is a very tiring job, not only are you running classes and preparing lessons, you are also getting to know the students and teachers on an individual level day by day. It is the interactions with teachers though that is perhaps most astonishing. While most are kind and work hard enough for the students, it is the level of effort some teacher’s put in which is most disheartening. Arriving late to school and classes and continual absences from school are not uncommon among Thai teachers and allows greater insight into the attitudes of some Thai people towards the minority races, who call the mountains home. This rift, which exists between the Thai and Minority Karen, Hmong and Thai Yai people, often pushes individuals of these heritages to a degree of shame which pollutes their desire to be part of their culture, often avoiding interaction within their community and culture, out of embarrassment and fear of judgment by Thai people. While discussing this topic with a close friend of mine from a neighboring village, he told me that when children begin school in kindergarten, these students are told not to do, as their own culture would have it. While this behavior by teachers has decreased in recent years, I’ve heard stories in which Thai teachers refer to their students by the derogatory terms, which were created by Thai people to refer to these minorities.

It is my experience of the cultures I have been living with for the past six months, however, which have become my most rewarding experiences. Becoming one with the culture, assimilating into the community and learning about their ways of life have allowed me a greater understanding of my role here. Not only am I an English teacher, but also a student, learning about the ways of life, which are, in many ways, being quickly altered as a result of outside influences. To be able to become part of a society, which is so drastically different from my own, has been truly amazing. There is a level of community and hospitality, which does not exist within Australia that is so fulfilling to experience. What I have learnt from these people are lessons which one could never learn in school, lessons which I hope I will be able to replicate in my own life upon my return to Sydney.


Halfway Through the Year

As Harry Ryan reaches the halfway point in his service year, he looks back at the first six months fondly...

Looking back and realising that I have almost completed 6 of my 12 months in Thailand is very hard to believe. As many boys have said previously time is moves incredibly fast over here. I am extremely pleased that I embarked on this incredible journey for 12 months, as I would be thoroughly disappointed if my time in Thailand was to come to an end now.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be one of the three Riverview boys that have committed a year of service in Thailand, and to have the help from boys over here now, and previous service year boys, which has been incredibly beneficial.

There are currently 13 of us here in Thailand at the moment located in villages called Huay Tong, Bangkad, and Mae Pon. We regularly get together in Huay Tong and occasionally in Chiang Mai city to meet up and exchange stories and ideas on our service in our schools and communities, and to help each other learn the Thai language.

As cliché as it sounds, every day in Thailand presents something different however one thing that never changes is a constant generosity and good nature the people we work with. The teachers, and even students, at the school are more than willing to give up their time to help you either learn the language, or get to know the rich culture of Thailand.

One of the countless stories that show their endless generosity happened to me during the first month. The boys at Huay Tong were looking for one of the many waterfalls that surround us when my motorbike broke down.

After encouraging the boys to leave me behind to look for a mechanic I found myself at the bottom of hill and, after attempting to push to bike up the hill, a local boy, who knew very little English and I knew very little Thai at the time, arrived on the scene.  Half an hour later he managed to somehow fix the bike and, before he sent me on my way, he told me that he went to school at Huay Tong and knew that we were the new boys working for the project, and was incredibly happy that he could help. This is but one of a many stories I could tell of problems we have had and the local people cheerfully helping us.

To finish this very brief reflection, I can’t begin to tell you how great it is to finish a day with a kindy student cheerfully yelling out “good morning teacher” at 3:30 pm while riding your bike home from school.



Josh Conlon is nearly halfway through his Service Year and realising how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to his second home, Chuuk. 

This week brought back something the last month has been lacking, a purpose. The start of the local summer school has finally brought with it a return to the classroom. The return of purpose has meant the boredom that has plagued us for the last month has finally been alleviated, but somewhat unexpectedly it has also alleviated my desire to leave. It has been a hard few weeks, seeing many of the Americans leave. Colleagues and friends whose absence has already been distinctly felt. Students and teachers alike wept during goodbyes and final nights on the roof while filled with their usual laughter had a somber shadow looming over them. It is a testament to the magic of this place that despite the at times difficult living conditions and the unavoidable frustrations of life here, almost all were visibly reluctant to leave. I came in expecting this to be a great year, and sure I had high hopes. But I did not expect this, I did not expect to find a family in the repurposed husk of Imperial Japan's war effort, I did not expect to find contentment stranded in the middle of the pacific. I did not expect to fall in love with Chuuk. Chuukese is an odd language, it words have no consistent spelling, and many will get different definitions depending on who you ask. 'Waio' is the Chuukese equivalent of goodbye, but it meaning is so much greater than a simple goodbye. When I asked my host mother for a definition she said it was a word said in sad goodbyes meaning "in my heart forever". And soon it will come my turn to say waio, while only for a month, this last week is giving me a sense of what it will be like having to say "waio chuuk" for the final time. So while I still cannot wait to see my family once more, it is a bitter goodbye I must say to this place. The prospect of a new group of Americans and a second semester of teaching is exciting, but my heart is weighed by the knowledge that sooner than I'll know, I'll be doing all this once more, and then it really will be 'waio'.

Farewell to the Cardoner Project General Manager, Pauline Mueller

The Cardoner Project would like to farewell Pauline Mueller and wish her the best for her upcoming travels. Pauline has been working as TCP General Manager since 2015 and will maintain her involvement with TCP upon her return from overseas.  Have a read of what she has to say about working at the Cardoner Project:

What drew me to working with The Cardoner Project?  

"What doth it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his own soul."*

 Exposure to Jesuit philosophy has come through my father, my son, my brother and my uncles, all of whom have had a Jesuit education. The last fifteen months has allowed me as a lay person to experience cura personalis.

 I was drawn to the mission of The Cardoner Project by Fr David Braithwaite. Spiritual, intellectual and human transformation is important for us all but more so for our youth who live in a society that is global and inclusive and yet alienating all at the same time. Technology has been a major disrupter in ways we are only realising now - what are the real impacts of facebook? of the 30 minute grab? of the need to multi task?  of the leaders we deserve?

Opportunity and choice abounds between the ages of 18-25, creating challenges and threats and I find parallels in that this stage of my life faces similar disruptions. Many term this" the third act" and for me it means pondering the above quote from the Bible. What am I living for? What is the purpose of my life? Focusing on things of value lead me to The Cardoner Project and a glimmer of understanding of Jesuit principles.

The experience has therefore been a two way street, imparting my knowledge and experience to develop the Project and gaining a stepping stone on my journey.

The Cardoner Project is now an integrated set of programmes -  Bellarmine, The Two Wolves Community Cantina and Immersions and Service Year. Each programme offers our youth an opportunity to engage and be formed through an avenue that suits their needs, whether it is being part of a volunteer community (more than 150 strong), living in Bellarmine House and forming an important core of the Project with a long term commitment to the mission of the Project or being formed through an immersion or service year. Each Programme now has a Manager with accountability for strategy, finance, staff and risk. Finance, HR, IT systems are in place - but this is a start up and systems will change and improve. In particular, it has been a pleasure to work with our young staff and see them grow and develop. They have been responsible for many important aspects of the Project. All of them are our future and if so the future is bright.

What have I gained?

The confirmation and articulation of principles by which to live and lead -

* principles and virtues which may not be absolutely applicable in all circumstances, but must stand at the ground of all ethical questioning and thinking, and which, therefore, cannot, without trepidation, be compromised

*Agape -The God-given, human capacity to see the intrinsic dignity of another person irrespective of affection, friendship, or romantic feelings. This vision of the dignity, goodness, and mystery of the other gives rise to benevolent intention, compassion and forgiveness. We want the other to prosper even if we do not directly benefit. We want to prevent the other from suffering even at the cost of our time and energy. We want the human community to be better off for our time and effort because we know that this is the one purpose of life that is truly lasting and worthy of us

* The heart directs the mind to meaning and purpose in life. It orients the mind toward the highest possible aspirations, to living life to the fullest, to the highest human emotions, and to our most creative expression. The mind, in its turn, guides the heart to what is reasonable and responsible..... the mind's guidance of the heart depends on knowing where one stands and where one wants to be amid the panoply of possibilities that the culture has to offer.

And finally, it is having a better understanding of the Magis.

When I want to see evidence of the impact ofThe Cardoner Project I only have to walk past the kitchen with it's dirty dishes piled high and a volunteer happily scrubbing away with a smile, or watch our young stafflead the discussion at a Board meeting on ways of helping others find their way or our apprentice chef asking if she can work more days, then I know we are moving to furthering the mission as it moves from outputs to outcomes -  formation and service for the poor, and I hope to return later this year to help develop the latter.

*Spitzer, S.J., Robert J. "Educating in the Jesuit Tradition." Gonzaga University President's Message (2000).

Pauline Mueller

CANA Communities and The Two Wolves Cantina

Every Wednesday, the Two Wolves Cantina Kitchen prepares 20 meals for the CANA Communities organisation. Starting in 1975, CANA Communities is an organisation that sets up overnight shelters and homes in inner Sydney. The organisation is mostly run by volunteers and is solely reliant on donations from the community. 

The Two Wolves Cantina provides partly prepared nourishing meals including curries, stews, and pasta dishes which the men at the Garden Shelter behind the Uniting church in Waterloo finish preparing themselves. In preparing the meals, sharing the meal and then cleaning up after the meal a sense of purpose and a sense community is fostered at the Garden Shelter. 

"We would like to thank the Two Wolves Cantina and we really appreciate their continuous donations. It is through their generosity and the meals they provide that the men at the shelter can feel empowered" (Regina- CANA organisation). 

Contemplative Leadership Series

Closing the Gap- The Challenges of Indigenous Exclusion: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda

The third instalment of the Contemplative Leadership Series on Wednesday 11th of May has continued the success of the series brilliantly. We were lucky enough to host Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mr. Mick Gooda. His relatable and easy-going personality made the Two Wolves Basement an inviting and comfortable space from the start. He effortlessly eased into the topic – Closing the Gap: The Challenges of Indigenous Exclusion and through his storytelling was able to communicate the main concerns of Aboriginal Affairs.

Mr. Gooda identified his role as Commissioner, primarily as a promoter of human rights, especially representing Aboriginal communities, culture and interests. He spoke of some successful public policy interventions that underline Australia as a safe and successful society, praising the success of speeding and seat belt restrictions and more recently the smoking laws. He found the success of these policies in the stringent and thorough process of debate and consultation with the community.

However, through his experience, he found that Indigenous affairs has not been treated the same. Historically, there has been a lack of comprehensive debate and discussion with the communities that the policy was meant to assist, without grounds for consideration and understanding, Mr. Gooda revealed the ongoing challenges of implementation. Closing the Gap, for him, wasn’t about a certain statistic or blanket responses to reach health and education levels. Closing the Gap starts from the recognition of indigenous culture and practices and integrating them to policy design. His approach to the promotion of human rights isn’t about treating people the same; rather it was crucial that policy is underpinned by understanding, in order to create an environment conducive to equal opportunity.

Mr. Gooda had time to answer questions from the audience who had engaged throughout the speech. Most notably, he was asked to speak about his leadership approach towards his role as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. He elaborated on his previous commentary by prioritising communication, personalisation and understanding as the basis for the relationship between communities, policy makers and other representatives. It was easy to see how his disposition encouraged conversation and consideration of his views, whilst demanding recognition and respect for Indigenous affairs.

Everyone present was impressed with his depth of experience. His invaluable commitment to his work was inspiring to say the least. Mr. Gooda made the evening insightful on all fronts, through openness and integrity. There is no doubt that he helped engage the students in deeper questions by confronting real and relevant issues facing Australia.

I would like to thank everyone that came, and Theo doing a fantastic job at hosting the event.

A special thank you to Mr. Gooda for his generosity of time and knowledge, and for inspiring the students of The Cardoner Project through his own leadership and amazing work.

The Fourth instalment of the Contemplative Leadership Series will be held June 22nd at 5.45pm.  We are very honoured to be hosting Fr. Aloysious Mowe SJ to speak on ‘Asylum in Australia’. Fr. Mowe SJ as the Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Australia, has worked to meet the urgent needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

Pat Furlong
Formation Coordinator

Hidden Gem in the Two Wolves Cantina Kitchen

Geraldo, a mechatronics and robotics engineer from Mexico works as the assistant chef in the Two Wolves Cantina Kitchen. Here he shares his inspiring story and goals for the future:

My name is Gerardo Alan Montoya Gurrola, I'm from Gómez Palacio Durango, Mexico, a small town in North México and I am a Mechatronics Engineer. When I was 23 years old, I finished school and like every other young professional in their 20's would, I wanted to "eat the world with a single bite".

I took my guitar and all the money I had in my pocket and began travelling throughout Mexico. Through busking on the street I met friends and they helped me to find a job as an Automation and Robotics teacher at the Technological University of Cancún. I was given the opportunity to form a robotics team with exceptional students that came from a very poor sector of the population. I taught them about robotics, electronics, and mechanics and in 2010 we participated in our first National Contest, winning first place in Robotics Design. In 2011 we travelled to the USA to compete in the international robotics design and programming competition and won again. In 2013 we again travelled to the USA and were crowned champions in the programming skills tournament defeating the USA, Japan, New Zealand, China, Brazil, Canada and other countries.

I started up a small company ‘called Sekai Tech' with my robotics team and we
designed a program to teach children maths, physics and science using robotics
to make learning fun and engaging. For example, we teach the concept of velocity by building a robotic car and then interacting with it and timing it over certain distances. My team and I also began a project called ‘Give us a hand' to help disabled people through technological assistance. Using a 3D printer designed by myself, my team and I make prosthetic hands and fingers for disabled individuals to help them perform everyday functions like holding objects.  

While my team in Mexico continued to work on the ‘Give us a Hand' project, I came over to Australia to complete an English course and loved it. I began busking on the streets with my guitar again and started washing dishes in a restaurant. The head chef learnt that I love to cook and asked me to be his prep chef and so began my career as a chef. I returned to Mexico with the hope of furthering my two passions in life; Robotics and helping people, however, I decided there were more opportunities in Australia to achieve this, so I sold all of my belongings, applied for a student Visa and moved to Australia.

I have come to Australia to continue developing technology that assists disabled
people in their daily lives. My overall goals are to grow my organisation, build a workshop, start a non-for-profit organisation, develop new technological systems to aid people with disabilities and make technological assistance affordable. At the moment, my team and I are only printing fingers and hands, however, we are currently developing a model for a whole prosthetic arm. I am hoping to find potential sponsors to continue this project and form partnerships with institutions dedicated to assisting people with disabilities.

If you have any ideas or would like to support Geraldo in his mission to help the disabled community through technological assistance, please contact Pauline Mueller at pauline.mueller@thecardonerproject.org