A Walk of Hope, from the Bush to the Beach

Start of Walk of Hope in 'The Shire', Sydney


Our time in Australia has flown by.

One of the highlights of these family-filled weeks was joining Clive’s daughter K for a fund-raising walk to support her upcoming trip to Africa.  For the third consecutive July, she will volunteer her time and skills in the delivery of education development programs to local teachers in Rwanda.

Two years have passed since I wrote about K’s first trip to Rwanda, in Family Globalisation:  A Journey of Hope. Since then, the Australia-based sponsoring organisation’s name has changed from Hope Rwanda to Hope Education, to reflect its preschool teacher training and English teacher training programs having expanded to Cambodia, Uganda, and Kenya.

Pays des Milles Collines – Land of a Thousand Hills

According to Wikipedia, Rwanda’s population in 2010 was 11.1 million (in my 2009 post, it was 10.1 million), the densest in Africa.  The motto of Rwanda’s official tourism site is ‘Discover a New African Dawn’ – and ‘more than just gorillas’, though gorilla trekking remains a popular tourist activity.

Hope Education reports that all 50,000 teachers in Rwanda are currently shifting from French to English as the language of instruction, creating the need for teachers to learn and teach in a new language within a three-year timeframe.  The organisation delivers teacher development training in partnership with the country’s national Ministry of Education.

Start Your Feet

So, on a warm and sunny Saturday Down Under, K collected us from our accommodation in Cronulla at 7am.  We drove to Innaburra Primary School, the walk’s registration and starting point at Bangor, New South Wales, in the western part of Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, locally referred to as simply ‘The Shire’.

There we joined an enthusiastic group of 199 participants, whose shared objective was to raise awareness and funding for Hope Education’s teacher development programs.  I didn’t expect the walk to be slow and ambling, but still I was surprised at the fast pace at which everyone set out on the quiet early-morning streets.

A quiet Saturday morning in The Shire

Our route took us from west to east across the width of the Shire, 18.6 km (or 11.5 miles) from Bangor to Cronulla Beach.  There were two pitstops, at which no-one actually sat down but simply accepted a cool drink and kept moving along.  Yikes!

Most of the walk was along the road; unlike England’s brilliant cross-country network of public footpaths.

A bittersweet surge of memory occurred when we walked across a bridge over the Woronora River, from which I could see a leafy park and athletic fields near Bonnet Bay, New South Wales.  In years past, my late husband Gary and I watched our son pitch his baseball teams to several victories at Bonnet Bay – sweet memories of a time of life I will always cherish.  Clive and K kindly pointed out the baseball field to me as we walked across the bridge.

Bridge over the Woronora River, Sydney

The most gruelling part of the walk for me was a lengthy stretch alongside a golf course, during which time I silently counted my steps (one to one hundred over and over again) as I contemplated the final killer hill K had warned us was yet to come.

Finally, with the golf course behind us, we rounded a corner and began the final climb. A family on bicycles passed us though they were also moving rather slowly, and eventually they had to dismount and walk their bikes the rest of the way.

At the top of the hill, we were rewarded with a view of Wanda Beach, part of Cronulla’s chain of well-known surfing beaches.

Clive and K at the top of the hill

The home stretch was all downhill – hooray! – and despite a strong southerly wind, we managed to make our way past enticing glimpses of the beach toward the walk’s end point.  I would have loved to have quietly slipped away to sit on the warm sand and rest my aching feet, but must admit thoughts of the sausage sandwich awaiting me – nothing is more Australian than a sausage sizzle – kept me trekking along behind Clive and K.

Path to the beach, Cronulla

Eventually we reached the end, about three hours after we started, somewhat behind the walk’s first place finisher who completed the 11.5 miles in two hours.  We were proud to have completed the walk, which raised $6000 for Hope Education projects, and we thoroughly enjoyed our sausage sandwiches and cold drinks while sitting on the grass.

Finally off our feet -- K, Clive and others relaxing at the end

I’m so impressed by the volunteers we met this day.  Some, like K, have tertiary qualifications but their full-time jobs do not involve direct classroom teaching; others are teachers here in Australia.  All of them dedicate their precious vacation time to volunteer in Hope Education’s projects in Africa and Cambodia.

Hope’s next event is a Mega Trivia Night to be held at multiple locations later this month.  It would have been fun to join one of them, too, but we’ll be with my mother in the U.S. that weekend.

While K stayed on with her colleagues at the beach.  Clive and I staggered back onto the esplanade along the coast, found a simple café, and enjoyed a coffee overlooking the sea.

A very welcome coffee

Cheers for now and more soon.

5 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you are keeping in touch, and it’s good to hear you did something so noble as walking for 11 1/2 miles! Enjoy the rest of your time in Sydney.

  2. Carolyn and Clive, it was wonderful that you joined K in this walk!! A job well done!!
    Thanks for posting pictures, it let’s us see your corner of the great country of Australia! I went to a Royal Wedding celebration Friday morning with my British group and we had sausage rolls,pork pies, Welsh cakes and Empire cakes! Yum! Love anything with sausage!! From Mary and Dave

  3. Hi Carolyn and Clive .. how wonderful that you could join K in this fantastic walk. Well done to you both. And such a worthy cause too ! Not all the areas of Britain have wonderful footpaths .. across the countryside .. Where I live does .. I would like to go cycling in a different direction BUT the road to get to some areas are treacherous!! Take care , look forward to your next post Love Anne xx

  4. Hi Carolyn and Clive….

    AaaHaa – another adventure! Thanks so much for the update. I haven’t checked in for a while, so I am a bit behind..it was a nice surprise to read about your walk – 11.5 miles – that’s fantastic and for a good cause too.

  5. Mary, Mary (R) T, Anne, and Martha B, a belated but sincere thank you for your lovely comments, which were all much appreciated!

    Mary (MGLH Mary) — one of these trips we will get together again in Washington! I miss you.

    Mary (R) T — same for a trip to NJ — it would be wonderful to see you (and your hubby) in person one of these times! My mom was always so pleased to chat with you both over the years.

    Anne, hope you are well — we are happy to be back in the land of great public footpaths 🙂

    MarthaB – wonderful to hear from you! We drove past both of our respective ‘old homesteads’ in HHK last week and everything looks good 🙂

    Cheers all and thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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