by Zoe Tomaras
Fundraising isn’t always about the money; sometimes, it’s about hiking 100 kilometres in 48 hours. Starting at 7am on August 23rd, nearly 2,000 activists from around New South Wales did just that, participating in the Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker.
“The event is the ultimate physical and emotional challenge that people who are passionate about fighting poverty can undertake,” says Therese Canty, 21, of Winston Hills, who helped organise the event. “All the teams commit to fundraising at least $1,000 and have to undergo many months of training in preparation.”
The trail started in Brooklyn, near the Hawkesbury River, continued through to numerous national parks and bush trails, and concluded at Georges Heights Oval in Mosman. Participants walked in groups of four, passing through eight checkpoints.
Participant Mehdi Zeinali, 27, of Carlingford, believes the Trailwalker tested more than just physical strength. “It was mainly about the mental challenge, and the ability to work as a team,” Mehdi says, adding that several people were injured in the physically challenging walk. “We could have finished in about 30 hours if we left them behind, but we slowed down instead and finished it as a team in 42 hours.”
Oxfam Australia is a non-government organisation that focuses on alleviating extreme poverty. The funds raised from the Trailwalker go directly into Oxfam’s sustainability and poverty reduction projects in third world countries.
So far, $1,944,133 has been raised in Sydney alone. Events have also been held in Brisbane and Melbourne, with the Perth event to be held on October 18th-20th. It is also run globally, and takes place annually in 10 countries.
Therese Canty, who recently spent two months volunteering for a child rights organisation in the Philippines, has seen poverty first-hand, and relates her experiences to the fundraising walk.
“The sheer intensity of the walk allows participants to understand some of the physical and emotional challenges confronting people living in poverty,” she says. “The event was important because it was tangible proof that there are thousands of Australians who are deeply committed to the fight against poverty.”