‘When you give birth, you think life will all go very smoothly, and you long for your child to be like everybody else. But sometimes that doesn’t happen.’
That’s the experience of Kirra Lewis, Community Education Officer for Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) and mum to Asher, 10. Asher, whose name means ‘happy and blessed’, lives with autism.
‘I can’t change that’, Kirra says. ‘All I can do is equip Asher with the skills to cope in a world that is not always very welcoming to people like him.’
Kirra, a ‘product’ of Lutheran congregations in the east of Melbourne, is coordinating a new event, Walk My Way, for ALWS. This 26-kilometre walk follows the footsteps of Lutheran pioneer women in the 1800s who carried produce from Hahndorf to Adelaide – and returned with hard-to-get goods.
Walk My Way aims to raise money to help refugee children in Africa go to school, and declare Jesus’ welcome to those who have lost everything as refugees.
‘All of us who are mums long for our children to be whole and happy, and contributing members of society’, Kirra says. ‘When that’s challenged, there’s something in your mother heart that means you’d walk over hot coals to change things.
‘In the developing world, you still want to do everything you can to help your child to survive. That’s why we at ALWS see refugee mothers walking vast distances, through great danger, to carry their children to safety.
‘So for me to walk 26 kilometres in Walk My Way is a small thing – but I’m doing it for mothers for whom walking means everything.’
Working – and walking – alongside Kirra is Julie Krause, ALWS Community Action Officer for SA/NT/WA. Julie has her own mother-heart story and motivation to Walk My Way.
‘I came from a large family and always dreamed of having four or more children’, Julie says. ‘But I had a lot of trouble getting pregnant, and remember looking at other women who were pregnant and feeling a deep heartache. I knew God could answer my prayers, but I struggled to understand why he didn’t.
‘Finally, after seven years, I was blessed with Josiah. People say it’s easy to become pregnant again after the first, but not for me. For another seven years we were on the overseas adoption journey, but the little girl we were first matched with died four days after we were due to collect her. The next child we were given was kidnapped as part of a protest against adoption.
‘When you so long to be a mother again, that pain is almost unbearable.
‘Yet, God answered my prayer when Tesema and Abebaw from Ethiopia became my two new sons. God answered my dream – just not the way I expected.
‘Children are a gift and I know how precious it is to be a mum. That’s why when I Walk My Way, I will be walking for mums in Africa whose precious children are threatened by famine and conflict.’
Jonathan Krause is ALWS Community Action Manager.
You too can Walk My Way. It happens on Tuesday 4 July, but you can do it when and where it suits you best. If you can’t walk, you can volunteer, pray or sponsor a walker through ALWS. Simply go to walkmyway.org.au or call 1300 763 407