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.
Jed Murphy is a CAFOD volunteer in the Southwark Diocese. Jed is one of hundreds of CAFOD volunteers that (normally) speak at Masses about how CAFOD is making a difference overseas. Today he is sharing his thoughts on this Lent Fast Day.
Lent began on 17 February. Yet it feels like Christmas has only just ended. The pandemic has really changed our perception of time.
I was reflecting that last year’s Lent Fast Day’s was one of the last ‘normal’ things I did before the pandemic. And it’s incredible to think it was almost a year ago.
I visited St Benet’s Church and St John Fisher School in Abbey Wood, London. It was early March, just before lockdown started, but when social distancing measures were starting to emerge. One of those early measures was skipping the Sign of Peace at Mass. I remember that it felt so strange.
And what a year it’s been since then. It feels as if time has stood still. Many of us will have been impacted by Covid. Lost loved ones. Lost jobs. Felt isolated. Been ill.
It’s probably the first time that, in the UK, we’ve been touched by a global disaster – the kind of thing we normally only ever see on the news. So we must remember that, around the world, people are dealing with Covid on top of extreme poverty. For example, 1 in 3 people still don’t have access to safe drinking water. People like Ibrahim, who is 50-years-old and lives in northern Ethiopia. It used to take him 24 hours to get a drink of water. Let that sink in. A day’s walk. To get water. But thanks to CAFOD a solar-powered water pump installed near his home has transformed Ibrahim’s life.
Well, because of lockdown, CAFOD Fast Day is going to be a little different this year. We’re all asked to join in The Walk for Water. Walk for Water is the only Lent challenge you need: 10,000 steps a day (or less) – done your way. Every day. For 40 days (or the rest of Lent). Go the distance this Lent and help to end water poverty.
Choose a route. We’re suggesting five miles, or 10,000 steps, but any distance will work!
Make sure you take plenty of photos on the event and share them using #walkforwater and @CAFOD
What else can you do?
1- Follow CAFOD’s online conferences to raise your awareness
The Challenge of Water in South Sudan, Tue 2 Mar, 11am Join us for a transformational talk about the water crisis and our inspiring work in South Sudan. Ibrahim Njuguna CAFOD Country representative in South Sudan and Thomas Delamere CAFOD Programme office in South Sudan will be reporting on the situation in the region.
Stations of the Cross: Every Friday throughout Lent at 11am This Lent, we will walk through the Stations of the Cross online in a prayerful journey of transformation in solidarity with people living in poverty around the world.