The ALWS Barossa Valley Walk My Way event saw some enormous numbers. But the most important number of all is the number of refugee children in East Africa who can now go to school for a year – 8,258! With 650 walkers, 130+ volunteers, and 700 Big Box Barossa Brekkies consumed, the 26 kilometre walk was a huge success.
Among the ‘Walkers’ was Dave Pfitzner (front left), assisted by Julie, his support worker from Lutheran Disability Services. Julie commented:
“We are so moved by what children in the camps over there have to go through, that this is the least we can do. It is a privilege and honour to walk with our clients to support them and enable them to contribute to society in a positive way. It helps make them feel important and valued too.”
Dave was so excited by Walk My Way, he suggested a theme song, the old Nancy Sinatra anthem ‘These boots are made for walking’.
Walking alongside Dave is young Reuben, whose mum works with Julie as a Support Worker. Reuben not only walked a long way, but says he had an important job at the halfway mark at St Hallett’s Winery:
“I’m a volunteer. My job is to tell people where to get sausages.”
Those sausages (and bread, and onions, and sauce) were donated and prepared by the Barossa Valley Kiwanis service group.
According to Super-Sizzler Dean:
“We’re here to help the children – whether they are children with heart problems, iodine deficiencies, or refugee children who can’t go to school without our support.”
As if 650 Walkers weren’t enough to sizzle snags for, two bystanders tried to join the walk.
Judging by the look on their faces, Bluey and Bingo were just as happy with Walk My Way as all the walkers!
Di Barry is Owner and CEO of Groves Scaffolding. She is a veteran of the Kokoda Trail, and great great granddaughter of some of the original Barossa valley settlers at Hoffnungsthal, near St Jakobi Lutheran Campus in Lyndoch, the finish line for Walk My Way. Di said:
“I have a pretty privileged life here in Adelaide, South Australia – I can walk, I’m fit and healthy. I love to walk and if I can do a bit to help those who are less fortunate then that’s definitely my heart.”
Walk My Way is organised by ALWS (Australian Lutheran World Service), the aid and development agency of the Lutheran Church. In 2020, COVID-19 forced Walk My Way to become Walk your Way, but still supported more than 6,000 refugee children to go to school. In 2021, the goal is to do even more. ALWS Community Action Manager, Jonathan Krause (above left), says:
“Our national target for Walk My Way for all of 2021 is to support 10,000 refugee children to go to school. South Australia is doing an amazing job leading the way. The Barossa Valley Walk has already raised enough money to support 8,258 children!”
“What’s exciting is seeing young and senior, city and country, Lutheran schools and churches, Lutheran Aged Care and Lutheran Disability Services, walk together. No matter what might seem to divide us, there is more that unites us.
“Walk My Way is a wonderful way to show our community that the Lutheran Church is serious about bringing love to life.”
The Northern Territory has their own Walk My Way (x 2!) through Good Shepherd Lutheran College in Darwin.
Students from Years 10 – 12 walk 26 kilometres between the schools two campuses at Leanyer and Howard Springs. Years 1 – 9 can choose to do 26 of an activity – read 26 books, walk 26 laps of the oval, do 26 jobs around the house. ($26 is the cost to support a refugee child in school for a year.)
Meanwhile, back in South Australia, schools like Encounter at Victor Harbor (55 Walkers supporting 227 children) and churches like St John’s at Unley (44 Walkers supporting 442 children) completed their own local Walk My Way.
Money raised in Walk My Way supports:
- refugee children from countries like Burundi at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya
- displaced children deep inside conflict-torn Somalia
- children in South Sudan whose families are forced from home by conflict, flood and locust plagues
Jonathan, who has visited the schools supported by our Lutheran family at Kakuma Refugee Camp, and in South Sudan, says:
“Before our help from Australia, these children did their learning sitting on rocks under trees, practicing their writing in the dirt. Those ‘lucky’ enough to be in classrooms were often crammed in 100 at a time into stifling hot corrugated iron sheds.”
Walk My Way walkers help supply school-books, uniforms, teaching materials, school-desks, repair and building of classrooms, and training of teachers.
There is a special focus on children with disabilities, who might otherwise be at risk of being forgotten.
Education is a gift no one can take away, a blessing ALWayS. So it’s no wonder that Walkers – even after 26,000 steps of stepping out so refugee children can step in to school – found a way to jump for joy when they completed their Walk My Way!
Donations are still welcome to support refugee children to go to school. $26 supports a child for one year with text-books, pencils, school-desk, uniform and training for teachers.
walkmyway.org.au * 1300 763 407
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