For many years now, Helen and I, accompanied for a time by our son, have participated in the Christian Aid May Day Trek held each year, strangely enough, on May Day!
Each trek takes the participant into the beautiful countryside surrounding Sheffield and, until recently, there has been the choice to do 5, 10 or 15 mile routes. When our son was young we opted for the five-mile route but as our son got older we progressed to 10 miles and then to 15 miles. We have experienced all the weathers that you could imagine but have always completed the walk and over the years I guess we must have each individually walked in excess of 200 miles.
Although we do not have any record as to the amount that we have raised over the years for Christian Aid through our efforts, the total undoubtedly runs into several thousands of pounds, in no small part thanks to the generous sponsorship of our friends here at St Mary’s for which we remain extremely grateful.
Unfortunately, during our time participating in the May Day Trek, the numbers taking part has declined and consequently the total amount raised through the Trek and its sibling Night Hike has also reduced but nevertheless the total raised still runs to well over £10,000 per year.
We have registered to do the Trek again this year and on this occasion, we intend to attempt an 11-mile option. We hope it will be as enjoyable an experience as it usually is and that the weather will be kinder than last year when we were subjected to and soaked by a heavy prolonged rain shower whilst walking along the exposed top of Stanage Edge!
All the money raised by this event goes towards the work of either Christian Aid or that of CAFOD, its Catholic-equivalent charity. The promotional material accompanying this year’s May Day Trek information focuses on the plight of the tens of millions of refugees around the world fleeing conflict and disaster in search of safety.
A quick scan of the material on the Christian Aid website reveals the long list of emergencies and disasters that the charity is seeking to alleviate, several of which will be familiar to you from some while ago as those affected by disasters continue life’s struggle to survive amidst ever challenging circumstances. These include the Nepal earthquakes, the aftermath of hurricane Matthew in Haiti, refugees from crises and conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Nigeria, etc., etc.
As I am sure you have become aware recently via your television screens, we now learn of the plight of many millions of people in the East African countries of South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia faced with starvation brought about by severe drought and/or by devastating conflict. The pain and suffering being experienced by so many is practically unimaginable to us but the need is manifestly portrayed by the images we see in the media. Christian Aid’s current East Africa Crisis Appeal is part of a national appeal by members of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and St Mary’s is seeking your donations to this. The UK government will match fund the first £5m donated by the public to this appeal.
Unfortunately, the trials and tribulations of so many from the poorest countries of our world will continue long after the current crises and disasters fade from our memories and the need for humanitarian support will be ever present.