A record turnout of more than 650 members and friends of our LCANZ family walked or cycled up to 26 kilometres through South Australia’s Barossa Valley on 1 May to support thousands of refugee children to go to school.
The walk from Redeemer Lutheran School Nuriootpa to St Jakobi Lutheran School Lyndoch is part of Australian Lutheran World Service’s (ALWS) Walk My Way, which is aiming to support schooling for 10,000 children in East African refugee camps this year.
It costs $26 to support one child in school for one year and, as of today (11 May), thanks to the generosity of donors, the Barossa Walk My Way had raised enough money to support 7034 children.
Bringing together people from the ages of five to 85, from as far afield as Townsville in Far North Queensland, the walkers and cyclists created a virtual river of blue t-shirts flowing through the valley against a backdrop of autumn-hued vines. With varying abilities and disabilities, some accompanied by their dogs, on bicycles or in wheelchairs, or pushing strollers, the walkers, wheelers and cyclists were supported by approximately 150 volunteers and local business representatives.
Sam Hoopmann, 15, was first to finish the course in just under three hours, ahead of Rev Dr Dean Zweck, 75.
The same day, members and friends of St John’s Lutheran Church Unley participated in shorter walks in support of Walk My Way in suburban Adelaide, while walks and fundraising challenges have been held or are ongoing among the communities of Encounter Lutheran College Victor Harbor, south of Adelaide and Good Shepherd Lutheran College in the Northern Territory, and by members and friends of the Ringwood-Knox Parish in suburban Melbourne. Individuals are also completing Walk Your Way in their own time to support the cause, while other churches and schools in Queensland and South Australia are planning to take part in the coming months.
These have to date (11 May) added approximately 230 walkers and more than $44,000 to the Barossa tally – in total more than double the numbers who participated in the previous group Walk My Ways in 2019. With group walks cancelled by COVID last year, more than 2800 people participated in Walk Your Way individually or with their families and helped 6390 refugee children go to school.
As of 11 May, more than $227,500 has been raised by 2021 walkers, which supports schooling for 8751 refugee children. The money raised supports refugee children from South Sudan, Somalia and Burundi at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, displaced children in conflict-torn Somalia and children in South Sudan whose families are forced from home by conflict, flood and locust plagues.
ALWS Community Action Manager, Jonathan Krause, who has visited the schools supported at Kakuma Refugee Camp, and in South Sudan, said ‘before our help from Australia, these children did their learning sitting on rocks under trees, practising their writing in the dirt’.
‘Those “lucky” enough to be in classrooms are often crammed in 100 at a time into stifling hot corrugated iron sheds’, he said. ‘Walk My Way walkers help supply books, uniforms, teaching materials, school desks, the repair and building of classrooms and the training of teachers.’
- Catch the joy of Walk My Way Barossa in pictures here.
- It’s not too late to donate! Click here to support education opportunities for refugee children.