Those who are married know that it is not always an easy and straight path. It comes with many obstacles, but ultimately the union of marriage is a blessing from God.
That is why Odette, my wife and I have decided to give thanks for the marriage with which God has blessed us by walking the Camino de Santiago (The French Way), which spans a distance of 771 kilometres and which we will complete in 23 days.
We thought of really making this walk special as we have so much for which we have to be grateful. We both have a strong sense of social responsibility and that is something we want to feature into our walk.
That is why we have decided to raise money to assist the charitable works of Mother Teresa’s Sisters, the Missionaries of Charity,who in the Western Cape are based in Khayelitsha. Mother Teresa of Calcutta who died in 1997 is known to all and is close to our hearts too. Odette and I shall both be contributing one Rand to the Missionaries of Charity in Khayelitsha for every kilometre that we walk.
There is no better gift than selfless giving and one person who was at the very forefront of doing so was Mother Teresa, a champion of the poor and downtrodden. From the age of 18, she felt the need to help others and joined the Loreto sisters, an Irish religious community of nuns.
In 1950, she gained permission from the Vatican to start a new religious Order of sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to alleviating the plight of the poorest of the poor, creating homes for orphans and those who lived in the gutters of Calcutta, for those suffering from leprosy, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, caring for those whom the world usually deems of little value.
In 1988, Mother Theresa embarked on her first and only journey to South Africa. During the few days she was in Cape Town, she won the hearts of all and was able to secure a site in Khayelitsha where her great work of caring for the marginalised in our society continues today through the sisters, the Missionaries of Charity who are based in Khayelitsha. Today, the sisters take care of many homeless men and women who are either physically disabled, have tuberculosis or suffer from HIV/AIDS.
Khayelitsha means “new home” in Xhosa and this holds true for those who have experienced the warm love from the sisters who work there.
When asked how they deal with so many desperate and homeless people needing care, Sisters Cyrila and Basila responded by saying,“They have become our own.”
As we have up hills and storms in our marriage, so our walk will personify the trials one endures through marriage. We will be walking in unpredictable weather, braving the elements, and sometimes not knowing where our next accommodation or meal will come from.
We will have to depend on each other through this walk and it is vitally important that we carry and lift each other up. These are, after all, the foundations upon which a marriage is based.
We wish to emphasise that, even though we are personally contributing money on our walk to support the Missionaries of Charity who are close to our hearts, this is not a charity walk. It is a walk of thanksgiving coupled with an act of social responsibility.
Monsignor Clifford Stokes from the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town and our parish priest will administer the bank account into which the proceeds raised from our walk will be deposited and when we return to Cape Town at the conclusion of our 23 day walk, all that has been raised will be handed over to the sisters.
If anybody would like to make a contribution to the works of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in our own city, please feel to click on this link #DOG23 Charity