October is recognised in the Catholic Church as World Mission Month, a time when Catholics all over the world join to support and celebrate global missionary work. Catholic Mission, as the Australian arm of the Pontifical Mission Societies, plays a vital role.
'What Catholic Mission and the international network of Pontifical Mission Societies can do, is to help some of the most vulnerable people in the world', says Catholic Mission Victorian Director, Kevin Meese.
'This year we focus on the essential work of priests, religious and lay missionaries in Cambodia, supporting people with disability and their families.'
In north-west Cambodia, The Arrupe Centre and Outreach Program is providing learning and growth opportunities for the community, still affected by landmine incidents and associated illnesses. This centre is managed by Bishop Enrique "Kike" Figaredo Alvargonzalez in the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang.
For over 20 years, Bishop ‘Kike’ and his team have been working to advocate for people with disability, This program is just one of the many examples of the global work supported by Catholic Mission.
Started in 2001 by Bishop 'Kike', the Centre provides education, healthcare and support for children and young adults with disabilities due to landmine incidents or other illnesses such as polio or cancer.
'Thanks to the generosity of our donors, this support can be life-changing', Mr Meese said.
An 11-year-old boy, Dara, is an amazing example of how this support can be lifechanging. When he was 11, Dara lost his right hand and most of his sight following a landmine accident. Unexploded landmines still litter the countryside where he lives, in the rural village of Koh Kralar.
For the past two years, Dara has been living at the Arrupe Centre. He has learned Braille, continued his schooling and made many friends.
Chen, also a landmine survivor, lost both his legs when he was 16. Unable to help his parents on the family farm, his prospects were low. The accident caused Chen to face the reality that his life will never be the same. His parents, who already struggled for money, suddenly faced new challenges in caring for their son.
'But thanks to the Arrupe Centre and Outreach program, Dara and Chen can lead a fulfilling and dignified life,' Mr Meese said.
'World Mission Month in October provides an impetus for the work of mission, for our supporters, parishioners, teachers, students and parents. It promotes the awareness of the rights of people with a disability and empowering those in need.'
This year Catholic Mission’s Socktober program encourages schools to support the Arrupe Centre through learning about mission and social justice. Soccer, the world game, is used to encourage students to learn more about the reality of living in other parts of the world.
The six-week Socktober Challenge ties in with the core values of the Catholic curriculum: of mission and social justice.
'Over 200 schools have already signed up for Socktober, kicking goals for people in need like Dara and Chen,' said Mark Clarke, Catholic Mission’s Community Engagement Officer.
'One of the most important things to do when we look to support people in need around the world is to first learn their reality. Socktober helps students and their families to do that while having fun and making a difference.'
You can help Catholic Mission support people with disability and their families. Visit www.catholicmission.org.au/cambodia for more information.
For more information about Socktober, or to register your school, visit the website www.socktober.org.au today.
Melbourne Catholic and VMCH01 December 2020
Fiona Basile19 November 2020