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When Mudgeeraba throws a little street party in April to celebrate Queensland Youth Week, they’ll screen a short film about Tallai student Katura Halleday. Filmed by Jude Kalman (Fish Films), the short explores Katura’s work in Mozambique where she travelled to teach other kids art. Since then Katura’s been a finalist for a Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year award and in October will have her art exhibited in a group show in Rochester, New York.

Katura told me she was humbled to be nominated for the Young Citizen award.

“It made me realise that people out there were in fact hearing my message,” she said, “but most importantly it gave me a stronger platform to be heard, and with that comes the ability to help more people.”

Katura travelled to Mozambique in September-October 2018 to visit three girls she’s been sponsoring through Mission Educated. She visited the King of Kings School where she was able to connect with students through art and English lessons. Jude Kalman was travelling with her, hence the creation of a short film about her work. Katura tells me how the trip came about.

“Last year I was runner up Miss Mudgeeraba Showgirl, I had to give a speech on my dream.  I spoke about education, sanitation and medication for third world countries.  Jude [Kalman] was in the audience, next thing I know I was heading off to Mozambique with her.  Which is weird, because my mum is pretty protective, and I didn’t think she would let me go.”

“I made several personal connections with students, including the three girls I am helping to put through school,” Katura said.

“I truly thought that I was prepared for what I would encounter but the reality of hearing firsthand the stories of struggle, the death of parents and heartache and hopelessness from girls my own age, my peers, was very confronting.”

Katura said she quickly had to come to terms with how different lives and opportunities were based purely on the location of someone’s birth.

The short film captures some of the darker side of life that is the reality for Katura’s new friends in Mozambique while also covering some of the more light-hearted moments.

“My most touching moment was learning the story of one of the girls we are helping to educate, seeing her living conditions and meeting her family. To know what these people sacrifice for an education was humbling,” Katura said.

And of course, the trip changed Katura as much as it changed the lives of those she supports in Mozambique.

“It was not until I got home and watched the finished film that I suddenly realised that helping changes you too, not just the community you help.”

Katura sends her art to New York once a year to be included in a fundraising exhibition there and this year, she’s decided to hold her own exhibition here in Australia to raise funds for the school in Mozambique.

“I thought it would be a great way to unite the community through art,” she said, adding that in Mozambique it was art that helped bridge the language barrier. Local and interstate artists have already committed to support the November event by submitting a piece.

“Mission Educate currently has 2000 students at the King of Kings school and the money raised this year will help to cover the costs of student education, teacher salaries and supplies.  They are also expanding their educational initiatives and have started a Technical College and plans to construct a University,” Katura explained.

With several fundraising events on the horizon, Katura is most excited about a partnership between her school and another: All Saints Anglican School and Somerset College.

“The two schools are funding the cost of shipping a container to Mozambique. It will be filled with supplies donated by other schools and people connected with Mission Educate. My school has donated 100 laptop computers, a fridge, and loads of school supplies.  I know I have done all I can to help, and have got so many lovely people in my community involved too, especially my amazing principal Patrick Wallas.”

Celebrating Hinterland Youth is a Mudgeeraba Street Party that takes place during Queensland Week, 7 April 2019.

IMAGE (c) Fish Films