Maureen Birkett has been a CAFOD primary schools volunteer for over 12 years and she shares with us her recent new experience of making her first virtual schools visit this term.
Well I’ve finally done it! After months of listening to the distant talk of ‘virtual visits’ I finally got the email:
“One of your schools has requested a virtual visit.”
Not wishing to be daunted by this I immediately took up the challenge and made, what was to be, my first mistake. I instantly bombarded the school for information and admitted I had not actually done one before. Communication suddenly went dead but I had learned my lesson.
Miriam is a CAFOD Campaign Volunteer Coordinator for the West side of the Diocese of Southwark. She has been talking part in CAFOD’s Lent Challenge to Walk for Water and she reflects on what inspired her and her experience of the challenge so far.
CAFOD’s challenge for Lent this year is “Walk for Water” – 10,000 steps a day, every day, for 40 days. One in three people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water. When I read about Abdella, I knew I had to do something. Hearing about the difference safe water made to Hagos’ life reinforced this. We were asked to think for a few seconds about Abdella’s walk: ten hours risking life and limb to collect something that you or I walk to the next room for. Well, this really struck me and I have decided to take up the challenge.
Ruth Sinclair-Jones is a CAFOD school volunteer in the diocese of Southwark and, along with hundreds of volunteers, has taken up the CAFOD lent Walk for Water challenge.
Feeling Gratitude for water
Why am I doing this? 10,000 steps a day, every day, for 40 days during Lent? I’ve taken up this challenge in solidarity with Abdella and his community in northern Ethiopia who have to walk over twice this distance, on rocky terrain, 365 days a year, just to fetch water; and I’m raising money for a community water pump for them. Six days in, I’m becoming aware of what their daily commitment to walking means: it’s an absolute necessity – no matter what the weather, no matter how they are feeling, no matter what else is happening, they just have to do this walk, every day, or they’d have nothing to drink. Nothing. I’m also becoming aware of a sense of real gratitude for something I’ve taken for granted – clean, fresh water to drink, right in my own home, any time I want it, straight from the tap.
So every day my walk includes a local water source, to remind me why I’m doing this. And there are so many! I’ve walked along the Thames – the biggest local water source, where my own water comes from – and I’m thankful I don’t need to fetch it home in jerrycans! I’ve hiked along the river Wandle, now alive again and supporting fish. I’ve tramped across our local commons – Tooting and Clapham – with their ponds that support so much wildlife. And I’ve trailed round the local streets, finishing at home with my own water source – the garden pond, where the sparrows come to drink.
I walk at different times of the day – I’ve had one night walk so far: a challenge after a busy day, and one cold walk in the rain and mud – but most days walking is enjoyable. Friends and family have been generous with their donations and their encouragement, and are inspiring me to keep going: still 34 days ahead of me! I’m feeling very positive about having a clear goal to aim for this Lent – helping a community in Ethiopia through CAFOD to have a healthier, safer, more fulfilling life with greater opportunities. And I’m enjoying the times of reflection while I walk – feeling closer to nature – turning lockdown into an opportunity to discover beautiful places in my local area – feeling grateful for water, and for life. I hope to be healthier too after 40 days’ walking – and to keep up the habit of walking after this, knowing that, unlike Abdella and his community I can walk just for leisure and reflection – and enjoy a drink of water from the tap when I come home.