In the beginning...
In the beginning was a little book called ‘A Coast to Coast walk’ by A Wainwright. Inside, Wainwright’s idea for a walk across England was painstakingly and beautifully laid out in the neatest print, alongside incredibly detailed maps and illustrations. Seduced by this little book...my idea to walk across England was born.
That was back in 1995. My husband Tom and I bought the maps and started to plan our walk...then all our plans to walk the coast to coast had to be aborted...and instead I gave birth to my son Jamie.
That was then and this is now. Jamie is 13 years old. He has a 12 year old brother called Patrick. It is 2009. The walk is back on, and this time the boys are coming with us!
A Walk With a Purpose
Cast yourself back a year. We are in Africa. For days we travel by Dragoman truck through Tanzania and Kenya. Sometimes we set up camp in the dark or break camp before dawn. We spend long days travelling through dusty African towns and villages, across the Serengeti and along Lake Victoria. We have seen and done many wonderful things; snorkelled in the Indian Ocean, slept in the bush with nothing between us and the wildlife, tumbled in a jeep down into the great Ngorongoro crater teeming with animals, visited a Masai village, handled snakes and rode on camels.
Being tourists - Ngorongoro Crater
Surprisingly it isn’t the animals or the scenery that made the biggest impression on me. It was a trip to a sparse concrete building with a dirt yard – to a place called Hope Orphanage. At Hope I met a little girl called Caroline who had lost her parents to AIDS, and was then cared for by an alcoholic grandfather who ran away because he couldn’t cope. Caroline and her sibilings were found alone, starving and abandoned. I spent the afternoon playing with this little girl, affectionate, bubbly and full of fun. It was very humbling.
Patrick with Caroline
Me with Caroline
I decided to sponsor Caroline’s education. Secondary education is not free in Kenya and it is a luxury most Kenyans can’t afford. Something we take for granted in the UK. I could make a difference, I hoped, to one life.
Back at home, the children in my class did some work on children’s rights – including the right to go to school. We set up a link with a school near Nakuru and my class sent off letters to the children there (children who had been directly affected by the violence in the area last year). Their teacher emailed back to say how excited her class had been by the letters, and that they would write back soon. I never heard from her again. Later I found out (quite accidently) that Kenyan teachers had threatened to go on strike (they had not had a pay rise for 11 years) so the government threatened to sack them all.
I don’t know what happened to that teacher. As a teacher myself, I know that education is so crucial for Kenya’s future, and for the future of children like Caroline.
Going to Africa is like taking a trip to the past. It is
like visiting another world. It makes real the fact that we
live in a very imbalanced world. We have so much and in the
third world they have so little.
As a result of our experiences in Africa we have decided as a family to do this walk for the Kariandusi School Trust, a charity that has built and resourced 6 primary schools in rural Kenya, and is in the process of building another 3 schools.
Please, please, please sponsor us at:
At 5p a mile (times 192 rounded up to 200 miles) = £10.00
10p = £20 20p = £40
Help to give Kenyan children a future.