In 2018 I am going to hike the 769 kms of the Camino Frances. I know what you’re thinking – but nope, it’s not because it’s named Frances. Although I do quite like that coincidence.
It’s because one day at the end of 2016 my (then) 10 year old daughter Zoë and I sat in the audience of a presentation from Morgan Koegal, CEO of One Girl at the Travel Play Live/She Went Wild Expo and she said,
‘when something feels wrong in your gut – do something about it’.
So we did.
In a concentrated two-week school raffle with ethical and sustainable prizes we raised enough money to educate 8 girls for a year.
It was the end of the school year, the lead in time was short and we were absolutely blown away by the kindness and generous spirit of our sponsors, community, family and friends.
I watched in awe and stood beside my ‘one girl’, who, together with her friends, stood up for girls who don’t share the same privilege and freedom. I learnt something from those 10 year olds.
I learnt that being paralysed by my own guilt of privilege and fear of standing up, of speaking up doesn’t sit right in my gut anymore.
So, I needed to find a way that that I could stand up, a way to use my voice. Eventually, after asking myself a lot of questions and trying a few things on for size this project was born.
The Camino Frances 2018. I’m taking the Way of St. James, and I’m taking it on for One Girl.
I’ll start at the base of the Pyrenees in the French medieval town of St Jean-Pied-du-Port in April 2018 and end in the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostella sometime in May 2018.
I’ll share it – the lead up, the learning to create a project, the good bits, the fellow pilgrims I meet on the trail, the hard stuff and I promise – not the gross stuff. No one wants to see blistered feet.
Ok, just quietly, lean in because I’m whispering here – ‘I think I’ll hike the extra 121kms to Finisterre to take a soak in the ocean, the most westerly point of Spain. That truly does seem like a beautiful way to honour the 769kms, don’t you think? ‘
Traditionally, pilgrims took the route for religious reasons and now as Leslie Gilmour (pilgrim and writer) says ‘modern Pilgrimages seem to be a lot less about religion and more about peace, finding something in life, a time to think, and for some a challenge.’
I’m a modern pilgrim. For me it’s the challenge, the adventure.
I have a great love of hiking. Not only the physical and mental challenge but also the spirituality and clarity that comes from the silence, movement and the freedom (head-space) of walking outdoors.
More that that I have a hunger to find a way to contribute creatively. To combine my love of adventure with charity and encourage others to get ‘busy’ with the good stuff like getting on the trail.
I want to share a different story about travel, to give a shit about something bigger than my discomfort and to show my kids that standing for something matters.
My pilgrimage has already started. Having recently taken on the role of Ambassador for One Girl, I am writing a new story.
A story of how I contribute to the online space and to answer the call of my gut. Girls being denied an opportunity to go to school, simply because they are born a girl – that’s why.
‘A girl’s income increases by at least 10% for every year she stays in school. She’ll get married later and have a smaller, healthier family when she’s ready. Her health, economic status, and future family all benefit.’ – One Girl.
So if your gut doesn’t feel right, together we can create a new story for the girls of Sierra Leone and Uganda. Come along and let’s see what we can do with a gut feeling.
If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.
Lovely, kind readers – I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share.
Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors: