Our Lutheran family and friends in Australia have helped to send more than 14,000 refugee children to school through Australian Lutheran World Service’s (ALWS) Walk My Way in 2021.
A record number of 4174 people from around the country took part in the 26-kilometre walking challenge this year, with walkers asking friends and family to sponsor them. As of 3 December, the $368,115 raised is enough to support 14,158 refugee children to go to school through ALWS. And it’s not too late to donate!
Participants walked, wheeled and woofed their way in more than 30 events from the southwest coast of Western Australia, through South Australia and the Northern Territory to Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The young and the not-so-young, people living with a disability, mums and dads, kids in prams, dog walkers and cyclists all united in changing the future for refugee children.
While 610 people walked their way through the largest walk of 2021 in SA’s Barossa Valley in May, many schools, churches and groups who lived further afield organised their own walks locally.
Members of St Matthew’s Lutheran Church in the small Queensland town of Maclagan cheered on their 10 Sunday school children – with a few extras – as they walked 26 laps of the church and Sunday school building for their Walk My Way.
St Matthew’s member Margaret said: ‘The congregation, as well as various mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, cousins and neighbours, helped fill the donation box with a wonderful amount of $1394. The kids gave it their all with lots of sweat and “are we there yet?” comments and were thoroughly busted when done, but they all felt strongly about helping the children in Africa to go to school.’
Although a small church, St Matthew’s helped 54 refugee children to go to school – five children for every Sunday school child!
Meanwhile, in October, almost 200 people came together at Hervey Bay in Queensland for a special walk to honour the late St James Lutheran College teacher and ALWS rep Christian Stern, who died earlier this year of cancer.
Before he died, Christian shared his dream of getting his community involved in ALWS’ Walk My Way challenge, to help a preschool in Cambodia.
Walk Sterny’s Way has raised more than $22,000 as of 3 December to support the people of Mean Serei village, who will now have a preschool for their children. Walkers included Christian’s wife Tanya and 10-year-old son Jasper and many from the college community.
ALWS Executive Director Jamie Davies said the scale of the challenge to support refugee children is ‘astounding.
‘We live in a world where more than 80 million people have been forced to flee from their homes – that’s more than three times the population of Australia’, she said.
‘We can take heart in this amazing outpouring of love and compassion – it is truly an example of our church in action bringing love to life!
‘Thank you – whether you walked wheeled or woofed, with every step, you’ve shown your refugee neighbours that they will never be forgotten.’
It’s only $26 to help a refugee child in East Africa go to school for a year. Your gift helps provide teachers, textbooks and tables. You can still donate.
And you can find out more about Walk My Way on the website.