There are many special things about the annual Karinya House fundraising Mercy Walk for Women. The camaraderie of the walkers, the beauty of the Boorowa landscape in spring, the canola in full flower across the rolling paddocks, but the best thing of all? Hands down, it’s the morning tea.
“It’s what most people come for, to be truthful,” Teena McGrath says with a laugh. She, her husband and all their Corkhill and McGrath and Dwyer neighbours organise the Boorowa event, which has been running since 2012 to raise funds for Karinya’s support of vulnerable mothers, babies and small children.
The walk covers 23 km from Boorowa to Galong, ending at the imposing St Clements Monastery and numbers have steadily grown since its inception in 2012, with around 150 participants last year coming from Canberra, Goulburn and across the region.
This year, however, things will be different. There will be plenty of women walking, but they’ll be doing it on their own as the Mercy Walk goes virtual as a consequence of COVID-19.
Teena says it was a hard decision for everyone involved.
“It’s very sad not to be walking together but we had to put into perspective what’s happening to everyone else. We have to do the very best we can this time, and hope we can get back on track next year.
“It’s too lovely an event to do half-heartedly.”
Teena says various husbands are the workhorses who drive the bus, cart the portaloos and do the heavy lifting for the walk. Friends and family all cook for the aforementioned spectacular morning tea (with champagne).
“Without that community element the day would get diminished,” Teena says. “So I thought, can we do a virtual walk? Can we encourage people to register for the walk that’s not really happening to show support for Karinya?”
What evolved was a walk for the month of September. People can pay their registration on the Karinya House site and ask for donations or sponsorship as they walk alone. And, Teena says, “if you walk that’s great, if you don’t we’ve still got your money!”
The essence of the Mercy Walk is the connection to home and community and the idea of women walking for women and organisers say the need for the funds remains as urgent as it’s ever been.
Fundraising opportunities have been smashed to pieces by the virus, at a time when many already vulnerable women have faced huge pressure in circumstances that are often unsafe for them and their babies.
The community across the region has been exceptionally supportive, but Karinya needs to raise half of its operating costs via donation, a major hill to climb in these difficult times.
Participants can share their images of walking trails throughout September 2020 via Karinya’s social media pages, and the event page on Facebook, using the hashtag #mercywalkforwomen2020.
Of course, you could always donate directly to Karinya House and support their ongoing work.