Canberran Matt Napier, who kicked a soccer ball across Africa last year to raise awareness about poverty, launched Project Compassion locally on Wednesday, saying those kinds of campaigns were really at the heart of Catholicism.
"This goes to show the good side of the Catholic Church and the good work they do," he said.
"This is about helping people, vulnerable people in developing countries and, yeah, they'll continue to do that work."
Project Compassion runs over Lent, the six weeks leading up to Easter, starting on March 1, Ash Wednesday. Last year Project Compassion raised $11.1 million for the world's poor, including those in our own region.
Caritas Australia, part of an international confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations, runs the Project Compassion campaign.
Mr Napier, a Catholic, walked the 2296km across southern Africa, living on $US1.50 a day while giving away 200 soccer balls to children and raising $62,000 for Caritas Australia, Oxfam Australia, Care and the Fred Hollows Foundation.
"There are some spots where it's really hard to describe what you see," he said.
"I tell the story of a lady I met in Mozambique. She had four children, one of whom had passed away. The second had HIV-AIDS. The third had a mental illness and couldn't stay with them in their tin shed and had to sleep next door under a tarpaulin which often flooded whenever it rained.
"The fourth child was the victim of a hit and run and was paralysed from the waist down.
"Meeting people like that really puts your own life in perspective. She was definitely struggling. She had some support from the Mozambique government which was equivalent to Australian $8 a month and that's only when the government could afford it.
"So it was really tough to see people living like that."
Mr Napier and his wife Wendy have a garden maintenance business in Canberra and worked hard in a bid to retire early within the next 18 months and devote themselves entirely to volunteering and campaigning to end, or at least ease, poverty. They also donate 50 per cent of their income to charity. He plans another visit to Africa in June walking across the Namib Desert.
"Project Compassion is a great way to help people in developing countries. We've halved extreme poverty since 1990, so we are getting there," he said.
"We just need a big, concerted effort over the next 10 to 15 years and hopefully we can eradicate it once and for all."
Students and staff from Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn gathered at St Clare's College for the launch of Project Compassion by Archbishop Christopher Prowse.
St Clare's captain Megan Phipps was among the students enthusiastically behind the cause.
"I think it's incredibly important just to raise awareness for Caritas and all the work it does. It can achieve such great things if we just give it the opportunity to," she said.
To donate to Project Compassion or for fundraising ideas visit www.caritas.org.au/projectcompassion or phone 1800 024 413.