AT A TIME when many children are fixated on their gadgets and won’t even stroll to the park, a seven-year-old British girl from Torvizcón, Granada, has walked an amazing 280km stretch of the Camino de Santiago (‘the Portugese coastal way’) with mum, Bridie, aged 49.
The famous pilgrimage trail, leading to Santiago de Compostela in the north of Spain, is a challenge for adult hikers, let alone children. The mum and daughter team walked for 16 days to raise money for their Language Linkers NGO – a charity that teaches refugees language skills.
Daisy had never hiked before, only walking up the hill at Torvizcón as practise. Her main hobbies at home are dancing and animals.
The pair started their epic journey on Thursday 1 June in Porto and finished on the evening of Friday 16 June. They walked through rain, sun, and changing temperatures, and were encouraged along the way by other hikers. Dad, Martin, sales director at a Spanish bike company, drove in his camper van to meet them every night. He also greeted them at the finishing point. Bridie points out that refugees walking long distances with their children have no support.
As well as highlighting the plight of refugees, the pair needed to fundraise for their Language Linkers NGO, which offers remote language lessons, educational support, and conversation to refugees and asylum seekers. The project works with over 200 teachers and storytellers, providing 1,000 hours per month to over 250 students worldwide. And it is facing rising demand.
Students hail from many nations, including Afghanistan, Iran, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Somalia, Turkey and Egypt. They are located in various countries, including the UK and Spain. Lessons are delivered by Zoom, WhatsApp, or text message.
Bridie Jackson explains: “In refugee facilities, the on-site classes available to displaced people tend to be overcrowded and it’s hard to focus on individual needs. By working remotely, we can access volunteers worldwide who are trained to create a safe and personal environment. This can truly change a refugee’s circumstances, opening doors to employment and education, and offering hope and friendship.”
In September, Language Linkers is launching a new project. It aims to help 2,000 Afghan refugees who worked with UK government agencies, putting them at risk of persecution.
Bride and Daisy are already planning the next fundraising initiative and would consider another walk.
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