CAFOD & Christian Aid walk side by side

Walkers from across Lancashire strode out in the sunshine on Saturday 4th May in support of the work of CAFOD and Christian Aid.  Families and parish groups walked either a 5 mile or 10 mile route, which took in some beautiful scenery.

One of the beautiful views of the River Ribble on the walk

CAFOD was pleased to be hosting a special visitor from Ethiopia, one of CAFOD’s partners, a 26 year old professional water and irrigation engineer – Miss Lemlem Berhe Tsegay, who joined the event to meet and greet the walkers and to thank them for their support during the Thirst for Change campaign.

Lemlem and Patrick

Lemlem explained how the work she’s doing is making a huge impact on communities in the project area in which she works in northern Ethiopia.  The day before she’d visited Cardinal Newman College in Preston and told the story of Rigiaet, a little girl aged 7 years, who spends 3 hours walking to fetch water every day before going to school.  Sometimes she doesn’t make it to school.

Rigiaet is on the right.  This is the terrain she has to cross to reach the water.

Rigiaet is on the right. This is the terrain she has to cross to reach the water.

Rigiaet makes 3 separate journeys to the water supply (a stream) every day before school to fill her 10 litre container.  The water she collects is the amount her family needs for the day.  It isn’t clean water.  Sometimes she has to contend with snakes along the way, and small animals.  If she’s alone, it can be dangerous.

Rigiaet takes her exercise book with her, but sometimes she doesn’t make it to school.

CAFOD walkers’ monies raised will go towards water programmes overseas to help in situations like this – to make clean water accessible so that children like Rigiaet spend minutes rather than hours collecting their water, which is fit to drink.  It’s Lemlem’s job to design the structures which store, filter and channel the water to the communities.

She also trains local farmers to mix cement, and build the structures, supervising them in the construction.  This is cost effective and provides some income for the locals.  Hiring contractors to do the work would be very expensive.  She’s an inspiring young lady, who spent hours herself as a child collecting water by foot.  She understands the challenges and is now part of the solution.

All monies raised by CAFOD walkers will qualify for match funding from the UK government.  Our sponsored walk falls within the period for the match funding (which ends on 17th May) which will double the value of donations, meaning we can enable even more people to access clean water.

St Anthony's walkers en route

St Anthony’s walkers en route

St Anthony’s Catholic Church from Preston was represented by a team of 7 walkers.  Peter Towers, one of the team, says

“Thanks to the generosity of the parishioners of St. Anthony’s and our friends and families, Team St. Anthony’s has raised over £500 for CAFOD’s water appeal. There is still a little money to come in.  You can check the actual total on www.justgiving.com/team-st-anthonys.  The Just Giving page will remain open for a while. Dare I hope we can top £600?”

St Anthony’s walkers arrive at the gazebo in Avenham Park in Preston

Peter continues: “It was a great day, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The team were great company. A highlight for me was meeting Lemlem: an extraordinary young woman who gives confidence that there are people who know how to put the money raised to good use.”

If you’d like to help them hit the £600 target, they have a Justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/team-st-anthonys.  Their walk could raise funds to the value of £1,200 with the match funding – that will make a huge difference to countless families overseas.

Team St Anthony’s with Rosa, Lemlem and Patrick from CAFOD

No less enthusiastic were our many other friends supporting CAFOD and Christian Aid as the two charities united during the famous Preston Guild to show a determination to challenge poverty and injustice overseas.

Anne Garsed, from Christian Aid, said “The focus for Christian Aid week this year is Sierra Leone, a country torn apart by civil war, now rebuilding itself. That’s our focus, showing how if you give the tools to the people they can work their way our of poverty.  It’s not doing the work for them, it’s working with them.”

Sue, centre,the minister from the Central Methodist Church in Preston with friends

St Gregory’s Catholic Church in Preston was represented by a duo: Bernadette and Sandra, accompanied by Veronica from St Clare’s Catholic Church in Preston.  Bernadette said  “We really enjoyed our day.  People have been so generous in the parish…..and so they should be for such a good cause!”

From left to right: Rosa, Sandra, Lemlem, Bernadette from St Gregory’s Parish and Veronica from St Clare’s Parish in Preston

Bernadette continued: “It was lovely meeting Lemlem…what a wonderful name!!”  Lemlem told us that her name means ‘green area’ – how appropriate for a young lady who strives to make the areas she works in green again!

Fr Bernard Walker from St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church in Preston town centre stops to chat with Lemlem and Patrick in the park

A huge thank you to all of the walkers for joining in and to all of the Guilders, Christian Aid and CAFOD volunteers who came along marshall, guide, register, set up, tidy up  – the list is endless.  Thanks also to the impressive staff at the park for being so helpful and supportive to us. And special thanks to the St John’s Ambulance team (best brownies I’ve ever tasted) who thankfully didn’t have too much to do, but enjoyed the sunshine!

Setting up, Lemlem helps to inflate balloons, with Christine

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