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Service Programs

Walking the Pilgrim Way to Raise Funds for Africa

Ashley Crosthwaite

Canterbury, UK - Ashley Crosthwaite reached Canterbury on October 23, after setting out October 15 on the Pilgrim Way, a 140-mile trek from Winchester Cathedral to the historic pilgrimage destination of Canterbury, to raise awareness and funds for charitable projects in Africa. He is a trustee of the International Relief Friendship Foundation in the UK that has been supporting educational and medical projects in east Africa as well as a children's hospital in Nam Po, North Korea. [To donate click here.]

"I am thinking of all the children and youth in Africa we have been helping over the past six years and even more so those we couldn’t reach, many who are dead now," he wrote before he set out.

The weather was frequently wet and windy. In Kent, he wrote: "Beautiful rain. in cafe looking @ pouring rain. Will set off after it slows." The rain had as much perseverance as the pilgrim. Another day the message was "Everything wet. Had fire & tea last night but dis mornin have to move on day 8 18 miles to holy grail."

The fifth night, he wrote: "Slept in this barn, w/a kettle! What a blessing. No rain dis am, another blessing." His spirits were undaunted: "Midday, day 6, in d cloud all morning d sun is trying to shine through if heaven lights my heart then..."

In addition to ocasional human companions, Ashley enjoyed furry company. One day, "i sat down in d field above holybourne church a mouse clambered on to my leg for a rest we had a little talk & continued on."

Upon arrival, he posted on twitter: "After 8 days finally reached Canterbury Cathedral! Stopped to offer prayer, no power left. Thank you everyone who donated." #PilgrimsWayIRFF

Half the donations will go to support WAIT programs in schools in Uganda that empower young people to make lifestyle choices that free both themselves and their peers from the scourge of HIV/AIDS infection. WAIT also exists on a much smaller scale in Zambia and South Africa and was introduced to Ethiopia and Malawi in July by Ambassadors for Peace. 

Donations will also provide doors, windows, and latrines at the Destiny school in Uganda, following up on last July's visit (for more details click here).

A medical clinic will be built next door to the Mackenzie School in Zambia and its latrines will be improved. Much-needed equipment will be provided to a medical clinic in the capital, Lusaka.

Note: Pilgrimage is an important part of the life of faith in many traditions. The desire to grow in relationship with God is often described as a journey, and going on pilgrimage is a way of letting the outward journey of the body enrich and enable the inner journeys of the heart and mind. For more about Canterbury Cathedral's welcome to modern pilgrims, click here.

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