Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia to refugee parents, I have been privileged to have experienced a safe childhood, a healthy upbringing and a comfortable life. Whilst this may have meant I grew up quite naive and sheltered, I am extremely fortunate for the events that took place which opened my eyes to see that my reality was not the same as others.

Before graduating high school, I remember feeling called to live a life as a missionary. I was drawn to the slums, to the streets, to the margins. Inspired by Mother Teresa, I thought I would complete my studies and travel to live with the “poorest of the poor” forever.

However, these plans did not come to fruition in the way I thought they would. Initially disheartened, I remember telling myself that despite the circumstances, I could not sit around and wait for the opportunity to perfectly unfold. I might not have been able to travel to the other side of the world, but I decided to do something right where I was with whatever I had.

I began to donate my birthdays to build water wells instead. From 2013 through to 2015, I donated my 17th, 18th and 19th birthdays to build two water wells for communities in Cambodia, a water well in Ethiopia and a water well in Mozambique.

In 2016, Christmas on the Streets was born…accidentally. What seemed like a one-off event grew to be the not-for-profit organisation we know as COTS today.

Since the establishment of COTS, we have been involved in projects that I once could only dream of. From partnering with charities all around the country to helping build a school for children in Nepal, the opportunities continue to fill my heart.

All of these projects reaffirmed my desire to be amongst people – especially the people that society often turns their back on. More than anything though, these projects have shown me the miracles that unfold when people come together for a greater good.

Since then, life has become a journey of blessings. With every high and every low, the story continues to unfold.

Whether it’s more water wells, another school or continuing to change the lives of our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness, the potential is endless. This great potential, though, can very often make one feel small and powerless. There are so many people in need – we can see this everywhere around the world. The truth is, whilst we may never reach everyone, never end the homelessness crisis and never see a world free of poverty, we can do something. This alone is our hope. Every single one of us has a gift or talent that we can use to make the world a better place. All of us have the potential to offer love to a world that needs it.

I cannot help everybody, but if everybody helps somebody, there would be no one in need.

Alone, we can only do so much. Together, we are powerful beyond measure.

We are all COTS. COTS is yours as much as it is mine. No matter who you are and where you are from, COTS welcomes you with open arms; reminding you that whilst we are all different, we are all walking the same journey of life – and this journey is always better when we share in it together in kinship.

This is still the beginning of my story and the start of our journey. I don’t know what the future holds or where it will take me, but I have faith that God’s hands are in the midst of it all; and for as long as He is close, I know that it will always be good.

Thank you, with all of my heart, for being apart of this movement. Our COTS community, this family, is better for having you. Know that you are in my prayers and that I look forward to hopefully meeting you and serving with you one day very soon.

Echoing the words of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, I too can now say, “at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love!”

God bless and keep you always dear friend,

Roseanne Rofaeel.
Founder and CEO – Christmas on the Streets.