It was Easter 2013 that
we I had a crazy idea.
PapaBear had gone off to camp with the older kids and had a face-to-face encounter with God and came home expecting MamaBear (me) to suggest we adopt a dozen babies from Africa. I rather suspect he would have been up for the challenge. But with half the family away I had had time to think and had hatched my own plan, albeit a much simpler one.
You’ve got to know that we adopted into our family two little kids from Togo last year – that is to say, we sponsor them, but our biological kids talk about them as much as each other, so they are family now. And even before we’d done that, we’d talked with our GP one day. We had visited him with a broken toe or something and came away with broken hearts. He had just returned from his latest trip to Africa and talked passionately about what he believes is the single biggest problem in Africa – the long treks women make to collect (often impure) water. He reckoned if you could give access to clean water, you could change their lives completely. Of course, we already knew that, but it took his compassionate account to compel me to action. I asked the kids to consider what we could do to help the situation. I asked God to lead our thoughts.
I came across “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – may I encourage you to read this one? It is a life-changing book. It’s almost certain that if you have access to that book, you are living in a position of privilege, and for me, it made me want to use my position to bless others.
As a family we read aloud Katie Davis’ “Kisses from Katie” and our hearts swelled more for the people of Africa.
Some Christmas money went towards digging a well. We welcomed Komi and Dagan into our family. But we could still do more.
I discovered charity: water. I spent Easter reading every page on their website and my idea took shape.
“What if I went back to the Camino and walked 1,000km to raise money for a water project in Africa?” I suggested to PapaBear.
I needed him to know this was a Serious Suggestion:
And over the next few months the dream grew. We decided the younger boys (who will be 11 and 13 when we go) would be invited. They didn’t hesitate.They were in.
Then the little girls (the youngest will turn 8 soon after leaving NZ, the other will be 10) wondered aloud why they couldn’t go.
Too far, too hard.
“But we walked last year – and I did it with a broken arm and I never complained,’ Tgirl pointed out.
Can you argue with that? Would you even want to?
So we started looking at routes. How to make 1,000km along various camino paths. All roads lead to Rome, but we were going to Santiago, and there are a lot of roads that go there too. We’ve ended up with the following proposal.
Lboy13 and Mboy11 will accompany me to Madrid at the end of April. We’ll take a bus to Pamplona and walk through the Pyrenees to Bayonne in France on the Camino Baztan. 110km Done.
Then we’ll head down to Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, which is a semi-official-ish starting point for the main Camino route, the Camino Frances. That will be 67km on the Voie de la Nive (and no, I don’t speak French apart from baguette and merci, but my linguistic detective work tells me the Nive is the name of a river and “voie” is probably “path” – googletranslate provides confirmation. And I have a map and compass, so we’ll be right. Besides, it’s only a hand span on the map)
When we leave Saint Jean for our second take at the Pyrenees, PapaBear will leave Auckland with the two younger girls. If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in Pamplona on the same day, and we’ll have done another 70km. The girls will have missed the hardest stretch with compulsory longer stages. (by the way, you can zoom in on the map and scroll around if you really want to)
PapaBear has two weeks with us and we’ll blitz along as far as we can, trying to find the balance between enjoying our time together and covering some decent distances. Then he’ll hop on a train bound for Madrid airport (and ultimately, home), and the rest of us will walk due west towards Santiago. But we won’t keep going that way. We have already walked the last 300km of that route, and so when we get to Leon, we’ll sidestep northwards through the mountains on the Camino del Salvador. When that finishes, we’ll continue on the Camino Primitivo……and a good way along that route we will hit the 1,000km mark. Hopefully we will still have time up our sleeves – if not, we’ll take a bus, but if we do, we’ll go the extra mile…..we’ll zip off the official route and make our own way down to Melide where we have wonderful memories from our last trip. The rest of the family has charged us with buying a particular variety of biscuit from a particular bakery there. We’re not objecting. From there it’s just a few days to Santiago, the totally official end-point of all the Caminos.
Why 1,000km? It makes the maths easy! If you sponsor one cent per kilometer, it will cost $10. If you sponsor ten cents it will be $100. What could be easier?
But we’re not actually asking you for any money…..not yet!
For now, would you be able to take a look at www.charitywater.org? Would you snoop around and see if this is a charity you might find yourself willing to make a contribution to when we walk? We’ll be putting up a campaign, but not until next year. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to check out the website and see the fantastic work they are doing.
Will you take this journey with us? (we’ll blog weekly until departure and then daily if possible when we’re away)