A place to call home 

Spontaneity is something I’m known for. Today Paul and I bought a place to call home. We bought a townhouse just 120m from where we are renting. It’s a great place to live in the 9 months a year we’re home between travels.  The perfect layout for hosting Couch Surfing guests. And close to work. Settlement is in July subject to all the usual checks and conditons. 

Walking for Refugees days 10-15

Determination and unwavering belief in the dignity of refugees walking to flee war gets me through six tough days of walking. Days not made difficult by the nature of the walking but by double and triple shifts at work. Fill in shifts for colleagues who are unwell or otherwise absent. Shifts that will make it possible for me to take holidays later in the year but that wear me down now during this month of walking.
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Day 10 starts at 8pm. Paul walks the first 6km with me and then I am alone with my thoughts.  I get through it and am happy to be in double digits.
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Day 11 brings a stunning sunrise over local swamps. It’s a blessing for which I am grateful.  Something I wouldn’t see if not for this challenge.

Day 12 is lit by the full moon. Small waves break on the beach as I walk my laps of the Deception Bay waterfront. Paul and our workmates are playing tennis. I stop by and discocer one lap of the courts is 100m and one lap of the nearby football fields is 400m. Two of our workmates walk two 400m laps with me before I head back out to the waterfront.
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On day 13 I have a few hours between shifts so squeeze in a seaside march in blustery conditions. I’d love to have been able to savour the experience but all I have tine for is a quick shower and on to the day’s third shift.
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Hitting the two week mark on day 14 also sees me hit the wall.  I’ve worked over 50 hours this week and my body protests. A sore throat and onset of a head cold causes me to leave work early. I sleep the afternoon away and contemplate defeat. But I’d regret that later so force myself on. A night walk through the suburbs provides a change from my usual waterfront loops.
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On day 15 I stay in my pyjamas until midday. I’ve reported unfit for work because I don’t want to give my clients my cold. My boss is all good and knows I will still make my walk.  Besides, I’m a casual so simply don’t get sick pay. I walk the familiar paths of Scarborough where we used to live.  It’s pretty and thr lack of time pressure makes it all the more wonderful.

Distances: 12.0km each day

Cumulative distance: 194.6km

To support me in this challenge, I invite you to make a donation to the Australian Red Cross at http://challenge.redcross.org.au/andrewgills 

Walking for Refugees – Days 4 to 7 – Walks near home

I wake on 4 March knowing I have to start work at 9am and won’t finish until 4pm on 5 March. This will be followed with long days at work on 6 and 7 March so it will take dedication to get through these four 12km outings. It’s a luxury problem though – both because I have a regular income and because I am living in a peaceful country. By contrast, those for whom I am walking are fleeing the horrors of war and often are carrying everything they own with no hope of employment or income for many years into the future. So I get up and walk. Every day.

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On 4 March I start my walk before the dawn. The suburbs are sleeping but there’s plenty of walkers, joggers and fishermen at the waterfront. It’s Saturday morning, so that probably explains it. These are the people who are up while I’m usually still sleeping. The people who run quickly and who have dogs to walk. Sunrise is pretty across the tidal flats and I enjoy the walk.

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I come off my triple shift at 4pm on Sunday 5 March. It’s still hot and sunny when I start waking. But by the time I reach the 3km mark the sun is starting to set. The tide is out and families are exploring the tidal flats. These flats are a combination of mud and sand. They stretch a long way out into the bay. Mangroves cover large sections of the shore line while narrow white sand separates the tidal flats from the path in others. I am happy to be out here enjoying the evening.

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6 March sees me at work from 6am to 3:30pm. I’m not one to get up at ridiculous o’clock unless there’s no choice so a 3:30pm start it is. I work in beautiful Redcliffe about 500m from the waterfront so it’s no hardship to set off on this walk. A strong breeze is blowing ripping up waves on the usually calm Moreton Bay. But it doesn’t stop people from swimming to cool off from the afternoon heat.

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My legs are starting to feel the effort by the time I step out of bed on Tuesday 7 March. I have muscle soreness in my feet and fatigue in my calves. But I get up, eat breakfast and walk the 12km to work. I walk along busy roads clogged with commuter traffic. The sun doesn’t start to rise until I reach the 5km mark. I can’t help but wonder whether I look odd walking through this suburban landscape with hiking poles. I’m not about to give the poles up though because the reduced pressure on my legs and feet is worth it. I get my first blister today – on my right heel. It’s a sure sign that I’m dehydrated so I spend the day pumping water into my body to start to improve things.

Tomorrow I’ll be back out in the bush for my walk. I can’t wait.

Distances: 12km, 12.1km, 12.1km and 12.1km
Cumulative distance: 98km

If you would like to support me in my chllenge to raise money for the Australian Red Cross check out my profile at http://challenge.redcross.org.au/andrewgills

Walking for refugees – Rules

A challenge must have rules. Here are the rules I am imposing for my 31 days of walking to raise awareness and money for the Australian Red Cross’s work with refugees.

RULES

  1. I must walk 12km every day from 1 – 31 March 2016.
  2. I may not bank kilometres. That is, I can’t walk 24km one day and nothing the next.
  3. I must walk the entire 12km in one go but may take rest breaks within the 12km. For example, I can’t walk 6km before work and another 6km after work. But I can walk 6km, stop for food or photos and then continue.
  4. Each day starts at midnight and ends at 11:59pm.
  5. There is no time limit for each 12km walk and no minimum speed of travel.

FUNDRAISING GOAL

My goal is to raise $1,500. This amount can ten families with much needed support.

ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS’S WORK

See this website.

HOW TO SPONSOR ME

Click here

Follow my challenge here on my blog. It begins tomorrow.

Walking for refugees – Why?

A couple of years ago I completed the Australian Red Cross’s When I was a Refugee app. Through the interactive game I was shown the experiences that many refugees experience in their plight to flee war. The game is based on the experiences of refugees who have found their way to Australia. It’s sad, horrendous and should change the mind of even the most hardened refugee skeptic.

A few days ago the Red Cross Calling Challenge advertisement popped up on my Facebook feed. I usually ignore advertising on Facebook but this captured my eye and I felt like I couldn’t ignore it. I clicked the link and was taken to the Australian Red Cross Calling page on which I could choose to go without social media, live out of a backpack or select my own challenge to raise awareness and funds for the Australian Red Cross.

It was a no-brainer for me. The When I was a Refugee app has been on my mind ever since I completed the game. The thought of men, women and children walking long distances with no certainty of safety has been on my mind ever since. And I am glad the Australian Red Cross is there to help refugees here and overseas. So I signed up immediately without giving myself a chance to think – I would walk 12km every day for a month.

I will still have to go to work during the period of the challenge. As a disability support worker my work is quite physical and my shifts are all over the shop so I won’t simply be able to get a daily routine. I have days with split shifts, days when I work 6am – 3:30pm, weekends when I work from 9am Saturday until 4pm Sunday, and shifts where I work 12:30pm – 10:30pm. I have shifts where I push a wheelchair 4km – 5km in a single shift, shifts where I might hoist 5-6 clients in the space of two hours and shifts where I am in the pool for hours. So adding 12km a day will be quite a physical challenge.

Walking 12km every day will also be a mental challenge. I just have to do it, like the refugees just have to continue walking. My distances will be less and there’s no one chasing me but having to walk will force me to give some thought to their realities.

It’s now just two sleeps until day 1.

I’ll be sharing my walks on both this blog and my profile on the Australian Red Cross website. My fundraising goal is a modest $1,500, which will enable the Australian Red Cross to help ten family members separated by war, conflict and disasters to find each other again. Can you imagine walking for years and finding safety only but never to know what happened to your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter from whom you might have been separated during a skirmish, confusion of a refugee camp, accident or government ruling you could enter a country but they couldn’t?

All donations over $2 are tax deductible and you’ll receive a receipt from the Australian Red Cross. Will you help me change the world? Donate here.

Walking to raise awareness for those fleeing war 


The Red Cross called on Australians to take challenge ourselves to raise awareness and money for humanitarian issues that are important to us. I decided to answer the call by creating my own challenge activity.

From 1 March I will walk 12km (8 miles) every day to raise awareness for people who have to walk to flee war. Why 12km? It’s far enough to be a challenge but not so far as to make it impossible for me to manage around my work commitments. This distance will take 2.5 – 3 hours of walking every day. Throughout the challenge I will share my experiences here on my blog as a record. I am sure I’ll have some good adventures, discover some inner strength and have moments of wishing I didn’t have to walk (especially when I work my triple shifts every second weekend).

If you would like to donate to the Australian Red Cross to support my crazy adventure, check out my challenge profile.

It all starts in four more sleeps.