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Elder Rasband Begins Pacific Ministry in Australia

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“I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I was assigned,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he begins a 10-day ministry to four countries in the South Pacific.

The Apostle meets with Latter-day Saints, government leaders and humanitarian collaborators during his travels in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji.

Elder Rasband and other Church leaders hosted a dinner meeting with Tony Stuart, the CEO of UNICEF Australia on Friday, March 15, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia.

Elder Rasband is traveling with Elder Paul V. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, members of the Pacific Area Presidency, Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric, and their wives.

“Collaboration is a foundation for us,” Elder Rasband said. “You look at anything the Church does really throughout the world, and we’re doing it with local involved partners who know the people and know the circumstances, know the tragedies and know best how we can help relieve their suffering and their tragedy.”

The Church of Jesus Christ is the largest contributor to UNICEF in the Pacific region.

“The greatest needs that UNICEF Australia is focusing on right now is protecting the lives of children, particularly in the region, particularly protecting them from health issues, in many cases safeguarding issues around violence,” said Stuart, who has been in his role with UNICEF since 2016.

“One of the priorities of the Church’s humanitarian effort is to care for children, their nutrition, their health, their education and their mothers. We believe that as we focus on the children, we are going to bless communities and generations to come,” Bishop Caussé said.

“One of our divine mandates is to care for the poor and needy. And, you know, and when we do that and we think of children, it tugs at all of our heartstrings,” said Elder Peter F. Meurs, Pacific Area President.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently funded four projects with UNICEF in Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea totaling several million US dollars. UNICEF also participated in the Church’s Giving Machines during the Christmas season in Sydney and Melbourne.

2023 UNICEF Projects:

  • In Fiji, the Church’s financial contribution of US$570,000 has assisted UNICEF in delivering programs targeting nutrition and early childhood education.
  • In Vanuata, funding from the Church of US$840,000 has enabled UNICEF to continue its partnership with the government to implement nutrition, early childhood development, water, sanitation and hygiene programs.
  • A donation of US$588,000 from the Church has allowed UNICEF to continue its partnership with the government to deliver nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in the Solomon Islands.
  • A donation by the Church of US$1,435,000 in Papua New Guinea has enabled UNICEF to deliver interventions addressing health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene, child protection, social protection and education services.

“Humanitarian work is one of the pillars of what our Church does in caring for our fellow men,” Elder Rasband explained. “The two great commandments are [to] love God and love our fellow man. And part of loving our fellow man is watching over and caring for people all over the world.”

“This is a very valued relationship that we have and one which we hope to grow in the future,” Elder Rasband said.

“Relationships and partnerships mean everything for us, and partnership with the Church is phenomenal for us. It creates the fuel, the energy for us to make a difference for children and the region,” Stuart added.

“We are very grateful for the collaboration that we have with many trusted organizations such as UNICEF and UNICEF Australia,” said Bishop Caussé. “Without them, we would not be able to reach so many people and some in so many countries around the world. They have a unique set of skills and experience that is very complementary to what we bring as members of the Church.”

During his visit, Elder Rasband is scheduled to visit with heads of state in Samoa and Fiji. He also has meetings scheduled with Church leaders, missionaries, youth and young adults in the Pacific region.

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