Australians to take a virtual walk in the shoes of Syrians this Christmas.

 World Vision is giving Australians a chance to ‘step into the shoes’ of a young teenage Syrian refugee this Christmas with the launch of its Virtual Reality (VR) immersive 360-degree storytelling designed to give people a closer understanding of the human impact of crisis around the world.

 Australia’s largest international humanitarian relief agency, World Vision has set up its first pop-up Experiential Centre at the Macquarie Centre in Sydney, giving visitors a chance to experience new and exclusive footage of a day in the life of 14 year-old Ali living who has fled war-torn Aleppo and is trying to survive life as a refugee in a camp in Bekka Valley.

Word Vision’s new CEO, Claire Rogers, a leader in digital transformation, says immersive 360-degree storytelling is a fresh way of reaching a new generation of digital-savvy supporters as well as enhancing the experience of existing World Vision donors.

“As the world increasingly uses the digital space to connect, World Vision wants to harness innovative technology like 360 video to connect our supporters in a compelling and informative way to the work that as individuals they are supporting in communities around the world.

“Immersive storey-telling allows Australians to see and virtually ‘experience’ the changes they are helping to make in the lives of the most vulnerable through their support for World Vision,” Ms Rogers said.

“The potential of VR to help us close the gap between your average Australian’s understanding of what ‘aid’ is and the reality of World Vision’s powerful development and humanitarian response on the ground, is ground breaking.”

With future plans for a national roll-out in 2017, the digital storytelling platform will take the audience through five key areas of impact – livelihood, water, health, education and emergencies – in World Vision’s work with communities.

Using VR goggles, viewers will be able to ‘walk’ through the day with Ali as he tried to earn money in the streets of Lebanon to keep his family alive. But Ali is also able to find refuge in a World Vision run Child Friendly Space that provides viewers a rare insight into the significant impact such specially created safe spaces have on the lives of many of the children trapped in the chaos caused by conflict or natural disasters.

Ms Rogers said that digital storytelling is now the most effective medium for communicating messages of real urgency and need.

“It allows the audience to experience and connect in such a profound way – immersing them in the scene, helping people truly understand someone else’s plight and the effect of natural disasters, conflict and poverty. 

“While we will never be able to completely walk in someone else’s shoes, the VR experience is the closest thing to it. It provides a compelling platform to engage our communities to effect change in the lives of others.”

World Visions Experiential Centre will be located on the Ist floor of the Macquarie Centre, CNR Herring and Waterloo Rds, North Ryde till the end of February 2017.

To interview WVA CEO Claire Rogers, please contact Mary-Louise O’Callaghan: 0427 413 826 or; or Leah Swann on 0421 857 591.

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