Sister Jane Ataku lives out the charism of the Missionary Sisters of the Catechism to defend the life of the poor and to spread the word of God. But resources in this remote section of Kenya are scarce. Locals had to walk miles to receive treatment at the medical center in Eldoret, where she’s administrator. So her order approved a structure, staffed by 20 people, in her remote area to give aid to mothers and children. But new challenges arise daily. When Sister Jane traveled to the Bronx in 2015 to visit a sister congregation and seek aid for her people, a priest directed her to MISSIO.
There’s an app for that
MISSIO, a crowdfunding platform, was inspired by Pope Francis’ call to build relationships with the poor. The Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States responded to that call by merging the latest technology with a mission spirit. Crowdfunding, loosely defined, is a way of raising money for a cause using technology to garner money from a large number of people.
“What is important for us was that the great work of the Church is as accessible as anything else you can find on your smartphone,” said Oblate Father Andrew Small, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. “There was no filter between you and the people who are half a world away, doing God’s work.”
Monica Yehle, director of communications and outreach and editor of the publication MISSION for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, said that currently more than 35,000 people are registered as part of the MISSIO community, with more added every day. She said that 100 percent of the funds go directly to the project being helped.
Encounter and impact
With MISSIO, users can browse existing projects to support with donations and prayers, or create their own project, receiving live updates from the on-site project manager as the project progresses. Donors can also interact with the people they are supporting.
Father Eugene Kalyango, the executive director of the St. Vincent Pallotti nursing home for people with disabilities in the Masaka diocese in Uganda, cherishes those interactions with donors.
“I feel that I have a traveler companion in my interventions,” he told Our Sunday Visitor.
Sister Claudine Rasoanjanahary, superior delegate in Madagascar for the Congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist, is responsible for a house for street children, as well as a nursery and school for children who cannot pay fees. She lives in Fianarantsoa, the poorest province of Madagascar, and she approached MISSIO with a threefold request for help: feed children in Madagascar, build a fence and build a computer science classroom. “We don’t feel alone because people are here to give us a hand, and I am always grateful to thank people who give us the donations. I’m happy to see people who visit our projects,” she said. “I notice too that they are very happy when I answer them.”
Mariann Hughes writes from Florida.