Vicky van Jaarveld is walking 680-odd kilometres from Bloemfontein to Port Elizabeth to raise funds for different charities, one of them the Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre in Middelburg.
“As we take on #TheJourney we leave all our failures and disappointments behind, only carrying our lessons learned, renew our hearts and minds Lord. Every step is dedicated to You,” wrote Vicky in a Facebook post during the walk.
Walking almost the equivalent of a marathon (40km) a day, Vicky starts at around sunrise and only finishes for the day at around sunset, which has been more than a physical test with her mind and spirit also being extended.
Dependence on the Lord
However, she has learned to overcome, even though when she started walking her feet blistered badly, which turned to bleeding sores. Yet, she continued to walk, the sores healed, her feet toughened and Vicky grew in strength and dependence on the Lord for the power to overcome.
She has adopted a phrase that has become a truth for her, “the body achieves what the mind believes”.
Vicky says although the walk is a physical challenge it is more of a spiritual walk than anything else.
During the walk she has been inspired by Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will”.
Another scripture that she has focused on is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Philippians 4:13
One of the highlights of the journey for Vicky was arriving in Middelburg and being met by the children from the Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre just outside of the town with a welcoming banner, balloons and much excitement.
Later, the children who comprise the Emmanuel Gumboot Dancers performed for her.
Vicky walked the first half of “The Journey” from Bloemfontein to Middelburg with Nkosinathi Manganyi the founder of “The Journey”, and is walking the second half of “the trek” from Middelburg to Port Elizabeth together with Xolani Nompume, a social worker at the Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre.
Speaking to Xolani with two days to go his thoughts were mostly of resting his feet in the sea.
During the first two days of walking between Middleburg and Cradock Xolani could not believe how far 40km was to walk each day and wanted to give up.
Eight days later having walked almost 300km, he saw that they were 78km from Port Elizabeth and said, “Oh, that’s not far to go”.
Nevertheless, Xolani says the experience has been tremendously challenging.
The hardest part of “The Journey”, according to Xolani, is taking the first steps each day with tired and sometimes sore, aching feet, but once you are walking and have warmed up it is gets easier.
A reason to keep on walking
However, he says if he were walking for himself he would never have proceeded as far as he has; walking for the children of Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre and knowing how much Jesus loves children has given him strength.
Xolani says prayer has also been a source of strength during “The Journey” with Vicky and him often praying aloud together.
He says his relationship with the Lord has been reinforced by the arduous challenge as when he thought he could not go on then he relied on God, who saw him through his times of weakness. Now, his trust is more secure in the Lord.
“The provision of the Lord and the awareness of His presence being with me have been my biggest lessons on “The Journey,” says Xolani.
“The Lord has also steered the right people into our path to encourage us,” he adds.
Mark Ferreira, from Middelburg joined “The Journey” for two days walking 80km over the weekend with Vicky and Xolani to express his love and concern for the children at Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre.
Vicky says she decided to undertake “The Journey” after following Nkosinathi’s walk on Facebook last year when he walked from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein raising funds for various charities.
“It inspired me to challenge myself and through the journey motivate and inspire others to make a change”.
Vicky says the Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre, for which she has done voluntary work during the last six years, is close to her heart.
“I am raising funds towards building extensions at the centre for an additional bathroom and bedrooms for the boys,” says Vicky.
The Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre is run by Vicky’s mother, Carol Deysel and her husband Bertus, who manned the backup vehicle and supported the walkers with refreshments, food supplies, good cheer, and by massaging sore muscles and providing medical assistance when needed.
The Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre is an important asset of Middelburg and the wider district as it is the only organisation of its kind in the area that provides safe refuge for children who have been abused, neglected, and-or orphaned.
“There is a desperate need of such a facility in the wider Middelburg district as the centre is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children, thereby improving the social conditions and fabric of the entire area,” explains Carol.
“Living conditions in the local area are challenging for the majority of people. The district is described as being comparatively poor with a Human Development Index (HDI) measure of 0.49, which is way below the country’s overall HDI measure (0.68) and comparable with developing nations such as Malawi and Zambia.
“Over half the population (54%) is under 20 years of age with female the majority gender and 87% of people live below the poverty line.
“Alcohol abuse is the order of the day in many households, which leads to children under the age of 16 walking the streets and begging for money and food on shop corners as well as door to door.
“Many of these children do not attend school at all, which means less people receive proper education in order to better their quality of life,” adds Carol.
Mission to underprivileged children
The mission of Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre is: “to nurture, develop and educate these underprivileged children, so they can grow up to be self-sufficient and have the opportunity to positively contribute to their communities”.
The long-term plan of “The Journey” is to a leave a footprint in every province of the country. The next stage is planned from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town in 2016.
Vicky says one of the most rewarding aspects of “The Journey” is how people have accommodated them along the way.
“We have experienced the South African Police Services (SAPS) in ways that I never knew them before.
“We were accommodated twice by the SAPS who, although we arrived unexpected and uninvited, welcomed us, provided beds, a shower, sleeping bags and looked after us.
“SAPS members have also stopped along the road as we have been walking to check that we are OK.
“People have generally opened their arms to us. We have also been accommodated by families and one family even joined us on part of the walk after we had stayed overnight with them.”
Vicky says the messages from family and friends have also been of immeasurable support.
For those that want to donate to Emmanuel Child and Youth Care Centre, they can SMS the word “Journey” to 42303 and thereby donate R30.