Via de la Plata(minus 30 days)

Just a month to go now.

Almost all the last little bits of wool have been made into Useful Objects….

  Baby singlets


Slowly, slowly, little by little


Via de la Plata(minus 60 days)

8 ply scrap scarves completed.  

There’s only one more blanket to make, but lots of room in the bags so the boys took the dollars they have been saving to give away to our local Salvation Army thrift store and picked out suitable clothing. It was a win-win-win situation. Refugees end up with good quality clothes (some of them brand new with tags still attached). The kids felt like they got bargains – each item was 20 cents! And the Sallies got rid of two racks of clothes they had been unable to move on. Oh, and nothing will end up in landfill. That’s four wins.

Now we need to start strength training. I’m thinking perhaps it was an overly ambitious goal to consider carrying it all, even if just for a couple of kilometers. The Shortest Person can manage a grand total of three steps before having to put her bag down! One step at a time.

Via de la Plata(minus 70 days)

Another ten days passes, another blanket is completed. Now there are just a few scraps of 8ply wool left which are fast becoming a scarf and enough 4ply for One Last Blanket.
Our focus rests on the blankets rather than the walk. At times it seems like the walk is the means to the end of getting blankets to refugees. But actually they are two equal goals that have become entwined.

And expanded. The original proposition was a bit of a jaunt, taking in Ancient Roman ruins, Visigothic architecture, medieval monasteries, Moorish influence, Christian cathedrals. It was to have been an educational field trip syncing nicely with our history studies and a burgeoning interest in architecture on the part of the boys. The children were to have researched the history of things we might see – and they have. But they will be more than simply pilgrims and tour guides. They will also be porters…

When Grandpa heard of the adventure he expressed an interest in joining us. Being 84 years of age was no barrier. More difficult was the fact that this time a year ago he was lying at death’s door completely unable to move. His recovery has been not just remarkable, but miraculous. The man who took half an hour to get into a sitting position on the edge of the hospital bed – and even then could accomplish that feat only with assistance – is now halfway through his projected recovery time and has managed to walk 14km. We don’t know how he’ll cope with day-after-day walking, but he’ll give it a go and we’ve researched bus timetables just in case. The tour guide pilgrim children have offered to carry all Grandpa’s gear so he doesn’t stress the rods and screws holding his spine together – they will be porters.

Now this sounded like an opportunity too good to pass by so an uncle who is currently living in Turkey decided to join us too – he’s looking forward to being carried up the hills!

A field trip to Spain. The enormity of this opportunity is not lost on us. We are very blessed and grateful. We are excited to be able to use our experience to offer a little help to some refugees, and we will also be highlighting a variety of education situations around the world as we blog on the road. Stay tuned!

Via de la Plata(minus 90 days)

Question: are you only taking winter gear?
Answer: when I started making blankets, I hoped to send them at the beginning of the northern winter. However, they will not be going until spring, and so now there is no reason why we need to focus solely on warm gear.

Question: I don’t crochet, but I do sew, would you take a quilt?
Answer: Why not!

Question: your blankets are all lovely handmade ones…..would you take a shop-bought fleece one?
Answer: If I were a refugee who had fled my home carrying very little, I would welcome any blanket that kept me warm. We’ll take anything given with love!

Question: I have some good quality clothing including bras….would that be useful? Answer: Absolutely! Apparently bras and shoes are in high demand.

Question: how much stuff will you take?
Answer: As much as we can physically manage to carry or drag up to a maximum of our airline baggage allowance, which collectively is 150kg.

 First donation after the last blog post – thanks!

A walk with a twist

In 100 days I set off with the four youngest kids for another walk (by the way, they are no longer called “the little four” – two of them like to think they are taller than me now and the youngest is already N.I.N.E. years old).

It’ll be a charity walk with a difference. No raising money. No wells to dig. No set distance to cover.

We are going to walk from Seville to Santiago, but it won’t be just a walk. Before we get to Seville, we’ll be stopping in Madrid.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last year we crocheted, knit and collected blankets and woolen gear for refugees. The original goal was to get it to LILY, a one-lady-band working with Syrian refugees in Turkey. Unfortunately, getting the gear to her has proved too difficult. However, we have been in contact with an organisation in Madrid (Bienvenidos Refugiados Madrid) that is taking parcels to the camps in Calais and Lesvos almost every week. They would welcome whatever we can offer them. Before we even knew about them, we had booked our tickets to Madrid. We couldn’t get on a direct connecting flight to Seville so ended up having to stay the night in Madrid. So we booked a hostel too. Turns out this hostel is just a few hundred meters from the BRM office – and if we had got a direct flight we wouldn’t have had time to meet with them.

When we go for a walk we don’t check our backpacks through. We take so little that we just have it as carry-on baggage. That means we each have 30kg we could check through. 150kg for refugees (although I suspect we won’t physically be able to singlehandedly carry quite that much!) So far we have 22kg of blankets, sweaters, socks, scarves, hats and thermal underwear. In the next hundred days we’re hoping to collect more.


   Scarves and shawls

 Hats and socks

 Longies and shorties for using with cloth nappies

Do you have anything along those lines that you could donate? Not old socks with holes in them please; just warm, cosy, serviceable, got-life-left-in-it-still stuff. If you give it, we’ll take it, a few bags of love from the End of the World.

 Would you like to help us fill some more bags? Then we’ll go for a walk.

charity: water update

Look at this! And this!

The Maryam Weybar Community and Gereger Community in Ethiopia both have drilled wells now. Not only that, they have  health workers who will share positive hygiene and household sanitation information with the rest of the community.

Each family using the new water source contributed toward their project’s construction — a small fee, but one that helps instill a sense of personal ownership for the project. Each family will continue to pay a small amount to use the water. The community will save this money for any necessary maintenance and repairs.

Fees weren’t the only contribution the community gave towards these water projects. Community members also helped build roads so that drilling rigs could reach their community. And they helped build structures to protect each water source after they were built.

The people here, especially women and girls, used to walk up to two hours to collect water for their families. The water wasn’t safe to drink and often made people sick.

Not any more! We walked for these people and you gave.
Forever grateful.

Camino Portuguese III

  So we’re about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!
We’re not going to ask you for a gift; in fact, we didn’t even ask for wedding presents!
We’re not going to throw a party, but we’re going for a walk.
And we are going to dedicate this walk to Kiva, an organisation that lends money to those who don’t have access to traditional banking so that they can improve their standard of living through further education or establishing a business or making home repairs or buying more capital for an enterprise they have already begun. We have been supporting Kiva for the past couple of years and have had a blast doing so. We have made 71 loans in 62 different countries. How exciting is that!
We would like you to share in the excitement, so we are going to ask you to LEND $25 to Kiva – you go to the website and choose the person or group of people you would like to assist. When they have repaid their loan (and so far 98% of people have repaid), you can get your money back. You don’t have to take it back – there is always the option to relend it if you prefer. We have paid $600 to Kiva – but the awesome thing is those few hundred dollars have grown to $1,850 worth of loans… far…..just by recycling the $$ as repayments come in.
If you’d like to join us, you can CLICK RIGHT HERE to go to our 25th Wedding Anniversary Campaign. We’re hoping 25 people will help us celebrate!! Will you be one of them?  

Oxfam Trailwalker 2015

“You’re crazy. Will you sign up?”
Crazy; the only qualification you need to be invited to a join a team of people to walk 100km in one hit.

20140629-194947-71387158.jpgSo I’m in.

When I made this blog, I named it “charity walking” to capture the idea that we were taking a walk and raising money for charity: water along the way.
Little did we realise that when we left on 28 April 2014,  we would be doing another charity walk exactly eleven months later.

That is to say *I* hope to be walking again. The six youngest children are all too young to participate in this event, the eldest two have already excused themselves from family hiking endeavours and the Father has No Desire Whatsoever to walk anywhere that he could cycle, but everyone is completely totally entirely 100% supportive of me doing it.
(Just quietly, I think the kids might be more than a little pleased about the age restriction….although they might yet end up less than pleased that it means I get to go out hiking on Saturdays while they stay home and do the housework and bake the bread, but time will tell)

So what is it?
Oxfam Trailwalker.
A bunch of crazies who go and walk 100km around Lake Taupo in under 36 hours (the craziest ones run it in under 12 hours but that won’t be us) to raise money to fight poverty. More bunches of more crazies do it in other countries too (and collectively raise millions of dollars), but we’ll be doing the NZ one.

We? We need a team of four people and so far there are two or three of us confirmed. We range from mid forties to almost 70 in age and from not knowing each other at all to casual acquaintances. There are two females and one male and none of us are particularly athletic. Sounds like a recipe for success, no? Our first achievement will be to find the fourth person – so if you sound like one of us (ie over the age of 18, human, and have never done anything like this before), you’d be ideal and should sign up right now – only if you’d like to, of course. Leave a note in the comments and we will send you a Certificate of Craziness which you will not be able to destroy until you have proven it beyond all reasonable doubt by completing the event with us!

1 July: thank you

To everyone who has given, written, encouraged, prayed, messaged and urged us on….a big thank you.
Even this photo was a joint effort – the kids were collecting shells and arranging them in the sand when a little tot of about three or four joined them and helped make the “o”. From beginning to end we have worked together with others. Thanks for the part you played.
Together we raised USS$8,001, which means changed lives for about 400 people.
It has been suggested to us that we should tell our story when we get home. I’m not sure how or where or to whom – but if anything comes of the idea, we’ll set up another campaign and be delighted to help some more people.
Muchas gracias a todos!