Some would know that I did, with a friend, 240kms of the Portuguese Way (aka #CaminoPortugues) of the pilgrimage walk to Santiago de Compostela back in 2018.
Well here is someone who walked further. And he did it for others. For people looking for a home.
Welcome to the We Are The World Blogfest for November 2021 as we share stories. Thanks to SBS News Australia, I bring you Ivor Houston and his @onfootacrossaustralia (that being his Instagram handle). Here he is below, walking along a 90 mile straight road.
Ivor Houston wanted to make a difference to the lives of refugees, so he packed some essentials and travelled 4,000 km from Perth to Sydney on foot. After six months, he’s now home.
Ivor lived with a family of refugees in the Blue Mountains of NSW (in Eastern Australia). He walked for them. The plight of refugees and asylum seekers has been with humanity for a long time. People seek a safe home.
Wars, genocides, natural disasters and so on, have taken away people’s homes for a long time. Thankfully there are often people who can help. It is an extraordinary time to do so with the Omicron COVID variant on the move, people’s resources stretched from lockdown losses, and countries still housing people from their own internal disasters. In my own country of Australia, some people who lost homes in castrophic fires last summer are still in temporary accommodation.
People like Ivor, and others, can help refugees find houses that become true homes. That is good to hear.
I was truly astonished by the number of causes that appeared in my country of Australia during October this year. My astonishment was how, after the financial challenges of COVID lockdowns, that money would be raised. My other source of astonishment was the sheer generosity of people to ‘have a go’ and give their energy, body, heart, and soul to such causes.
This list is not complete. It’s just the ones I came across.
The Heart Foundation’s MyMarathon for research into heart disease and its treatment.
The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s Frocktober.
I actually did the Black Dog Institute’s One Foot Forward Challenge in memory of my own brother, Joseph, who died by suicide in 1987. My generous sponsors raised $893AUD for my 218kms. On Sunday 31 October I received an email from the organisers saying:
“Our incredible One Foot Forward community has raised an astounding $10,461,065 [AUD] for mental health research.
So… THANK YOU! “
That is one of the causes. It is good news, and a tribute to the generosity of the human spirit to galvanise people and raise funds. I can hardly imagine what scale this kind of volunteerism has reached across the globe.
Has the pandemic made people more aware, compassionate and generous? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the experience of each person is a factor. One friend of mine who did Frocktober is herself a cancer survivor. Another friend who did the One Walk has a family member with diabetes. I did the One Foot Forward for my brother. Relationships shape us and help us to reach out with care.
Speaking of generous volunteers, I BIG shoutout to all the We Are World Blogfest WATWB team. Some carried the load alot this year while others of us were less able to commit. A very hearty thank you to them.
On an even more fun note, I observed, thanks to a friend in Glasgow, that The Wombles have returned as stars at COP26 to help clean up our planet. The 5 year old seventies child that I was revelled in such news.
This tweet, from a journo whom I went to school with, sent me down an internet rabbit hole.
The tweet is very recent. The story a bit older.
It’s a good news story for at least two people. The fine young Ben and for older Ben at least.
So, welcome to the #WATWB We Are The World Blogfest post for September 2021. Please follow other posts with the #WATWB. And…back to the story.
So Ben Farinazzo is a former Australian Army Officer who did tours of duty in the East Timor peacekeeping operation. He has been living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has recovered from a mountain bike accident causing a spinal injury as well.
I was fighting an internal battle against post -traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. I then broke my neck and back in a mountain bike accident. It felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Three years later I represented Australia in indoor rowing and powerlifting at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 and was fortunate to win two gold medals. Today, I am a proud Australia Day Ambassador and support mental health, veterans and sport.
This is a fabulous story about brokenness, reconnection and resilience. You may also want to check Ben’s Youtube channel for footage the like the screenshot of the one featured here.