At the beginning of lockdown, a group of Manchester pupils had a great idea to virtually recreate their cancelled school trip by walking, running, and cycling 2,000 km for charity. However, after reaching their Spanish destination after only a few weeks, the pupils have now decided to extend their virtual trip to Nairobi, Kenya and back.
After their Year Six trip to Ponteareas in Spain was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the whole school of Our Lady of the Rosary in Manchester decided that, despite lockdown, they would still reach their destination - virtually!
Over the next few weeks, the pupils and teachers walked, ran, and cycled nearly 2,000 km around their local areas, to represent their journey from Manchester to Spain, and raised nearly £1,000 for the coronavirus response of international development charity, CAFOD.
The pupils reached their destination much sooner than anticipated, so they decided to extend their virtual school trip journey to Nairobi, Kenya - nearly 7,000 miles away - and back before the summer holidays were over.
Steve Burrowes, CAFOD's local representative who is taking part in the challenge, said: "Initially I was just chipping in some miles to Our Lady of the Rosary's virtual ride to Spain. I was delighted when they decided to go on a detour and accompany me on a trip to Kenya when they found out that my trip had been cancelled."
Steve is an avid cyclist who completed a four-day ride across Tanzania and Kenya to fundraise for CAFOD in 2017. He was planning to return this summer for another ride with Fr Gavin Landers from the Diocese of Salford.
"The school has really thrown themselves into it and done a huge amount of additional work," Steve explained. "And, the miles are coming in from folk far and wide - not just from the local community, but from across the Diocese and beyond. It really does show how we're all connected!"
The school's challenge is part of CAFOD's Summer of Hope. The campaign aims to inspire the nation to remain hopeful this summer through recreating cancelled events, virtually - while also supporting communities in developing countries through fundraising.
Steve continued: "Pope Francis is constantly encouraging us to accompany each other out of lockdown. He urges us to 'keep hope alive and active' and to build 'the new normality that we desire'. I hope this is something that can be realised by this amazing challenge."
CAFOD has recently launched an emergency coronavirus appeal and is scaling up its support to local aid experts. These local experts are providing food to vulnerable families, as well as improving handwashing and sanitation facilities across communities.
CAFOD is also helping churches in developing countries use their networks to share hygiene messages through Catholic radio stations and to produce posters in local dialects on infection prevention.
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