Photographer Helps Indigenous Community Raise $1.2 Million for Neon Cross

An Australian photographer is helping a local indigenous community raise $1.2 million to build a 65-foot neon cross in the country's outback area known as the Northern Territory, about 150 miles from Alice Springs.

Ken Duncan, an acclaimed Australian photographer and Christian, is helping the indigenous communities of Papunya and Haasts Bluff erect the giant neon cross on an area in the Northern Territory known as Hat Hill. The cross will sit atop the large hill and be illuminated with LED-lights. Duncan is helping to raise the $1.2 million needed for the project through his foundation Walk a While, which helps indigenous youth in the country develop an interest in the creative art.

Duncan's Help Raise the Cross fundraiser asks for "financial and practical assistance from the Christian community" to help raise the funds, as the cross is a religious symbol and therefore cannot be funded through tax deductible donations.

Duncan wrote on a Help Raise the Cross blog post that the idea to build the cross had come from a vision among three indigenous elders from three different communities at an Easter gathering. The three leaders, one of whom was from Haasts Bluff, agreed that the cross would be an honorable tribute to their Christian heritage, and asked Walk a While to help fundraise for the project.

The cross then had to be approved by the Central Lands Council, but first the council had to carry out extensive investigations with Haasts Bluff and surrounding communities to establish that all indigenous people wanted the large Christian symbol on Hat Hill. The indigenous communities ultimately agreed, bringing the idea of the cross to life.

Duncan wrote on the fundraiser's blog that the idea for the cross is especially rewarding because it "is an indigenous initiative and we feel privileged to be able to help them do something they believe God wants for that mountain."

Duncan went on to say that although he has "personally never had a vision to be a cross builder," he is willing to put in the effort to have the cross erected. "I admit when we received the final quote to build the cross, I was overwhelmed. No one individual can raise this cross, but together, with God at the helm touching hearts, anything is possible."

According to The Guardian, most of the construction materials needed for the cross will be airlifted to Hat Hill to avoid having to construct a major road up the mountain. All other supplies will be delivered via a small surface road running up the back of the mountain. Help Raise the Cross has raised $82,000 out of its $1.2 million fundraising goal.