It’s ‘Mission in 360’ as innovation adds colour to World Mission Month

Catholic schools in Maitland-Newcastle are a little more colourful this month, with students donning their wackiest socks to raise funds and awareness for Catholic Mission’s Socktober celebration. This year, the focus is on Uganda, and walking in the shoes − or socks − of another has a whole new meaning.

The annual event, which is held across Australia during World Mission Month, encourages students at primary and secondary level to join in the fight against poverty, and consider how life is for children like them from developing countries. This year, an innovation is helping to change the experience completely.

For the first time, Catholic Mission is introducing 360-degree video for school students learning about life in remote Uganda. It totally enhances the formation experience, as students can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of a place different from their own.

This year, Socktober invites students to the heart of Africa, and a small village called Bujuni, three hours from the Ugandan capital Kampala. There, they will meet Harriet, a thirteen-year-old girl in grade 6 at St Thereza School, which is run by the local Catholic Church.

The new interactive experience, Mission in 360, which is accessible via the Catholic Mission website, involves students in the story in a completely new way. Footage shot with a special camera captures the entire surrounds of the location, in this case rural Uganda.

Using a smartphone device and specially designed goggles, students see a 360-degree view of the environment from their classroom, navigating the camera simply by moving the phone. The effect is that students are placed in the scene, joining Harriet for ‘a day in the life’. 

Students will also learn about the St Luke Health Centre down the road from Harriet’s school, where she received critical care after she fell ill with malaria last year. Harriet’s home is a four-hour walk from the school and health centre, and with no ambulance, the only option for Harriet was to travel on the back of a motorcycle.

The health centre is run by Sister Mary Goretti and the Daughters of Mary, a local Ugandan order. They provide a critical service for the entire Bujuni community, especially for expectant mothers, as the only affordable health centre in the region with a maternity ward. Their most urgent need is for an ambulance.

“I think if we get a vehicle it will really help us to save the life of the mother and the baby,” says Sister Mary. “People come with hope that you are going to help them…then you look at the condition, it’s beyond our care here.”

Some parishioners in Maitland-Newcastle may have met Sister Mary when she visited the diocese in June on her trip to Australia to meet with Catholic Mission supporters and share stories of life in her home in rural Uganda.

She returned to Bujuni in July, but the impression Sister Mary left on all of us endures. I know she very much enjoyed her visit here and I’m excited that we can continue to share her story and that of Harriet with schools in the diocese during World Mission Month.

Students are encouraged to support the World Mission Month appeal through their advocacy, prayers and donations. You can support this wonderful work, or find out more, here or contacting the Maitland-Newcastle office of Catholic Mission, 4979 1141.

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Mark Toohey

Mark is the Diocesan Director for Catholic Mission in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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