Why Christine is walking against hunger this Lent

Christine with the Walk Against Hunger wallchart

Walk Against Hunger is the new Lent walking challenge from CAFOD. Christine Allen, CAFOD’s Director, tells us why she is getting involved and why the issue of hunger is so important to CAFOD and its history.

Many will remember Abdella from last year’s Lent Appeal, the Walk for Water. This year CAFOD is asking people to Walk Against Hunger, and I’m taking on the challenge!

The challenge is to walk 200km over the course of Lent, that’s 5km a day.

Each and every one of us can make a big difference. Do 5k a day, your way, for 40 days, and you’ll conquer your 200k target in time for Easter – and help people around the world live their lives free from hunger.

You can walk, roll, skip or stroll your way to 200k. You can boldly go it alone and take it on 5k a day for 40 days, or you can smash the target all at once as a team. 

This year’s campaign is deeply rooted in CAFOD’s history. It was a simple, almost instinctive idea that began the building of CAFOD: the belief that no child should be born without the basics of life; food, shelter, and love.

That want and need to help “all God’s children”, to borrow the words of one our founders Elspeth Orchard, led to the funding of a mother and baby hospital in Dominica. Funding which meant that mothers and babies had enough to eat, shelter and safety.

Those mothers and babies received help thanks to the drive and determination of a small group of mothers here who wanted to stand in solidarity with new mothers thousands of miles away.

Christine stepping out of the office for a lunchtime walk
Christine stepping out of the office for a lunchtime walk.

Over the past 60 years, it is this same drive which has led to thousands of mothers, families, and whole communities coming together to make sure that while help is still needed, we can offer solidarity, alongside practical help.

Many of the issues that our founding mothers were campaigning about unfortunately remain; today, about 200 million children’s lives are at risk because they are malnourished – and this shocking statistic inspired our Lent campaign, Walk Against Hunger and the challenge to walk 200km in Lent.

Let me introduce Lombeh and Amie.

Lombeh and her mother Amie – Sierra Leone

Amie and Mohammed had the tiniest baby. They named her Lombeh. Soon after being born, Amie noticed that Lombeh wasn’t growing – that she was dangerously unwell.

One day, Amie met a group of women walking along on the road . Young mothers, like herself. They held healthy, happy babies. Babies that weren’t malnourished. Amie asked the women where they had come from. They told her: a specialist clinic, in walking distance, run by Sister Anthonia.

Lombeh with mum Amie and Sister Anthonia
Lombeh with mum Amie and Sister Anthonia

Amie travelled with Lombeh to the CAFOD-funded clinic and spoke with Sister Anthonia. Sister Anthonia has decades of experience looking after new mothers and babies. She’s an expert in her field and, like the doctors, she didn’t think Lombeh would survive. But she was prepared to act in hope – a small act of kindness that had the potential to make a big difference – and help the child. She told Amie that the sisters would do everything they possibly could.

Despite their doubts, they treated Lombeh and put her on a special diet consisting of a highly nutritious sesame seed paste, based on a traditional recipe, and made especially for children suffering from malnutrition. The Sisters prayed together with Amie and Mohammed.

Over the next few months, Amie returned to the clinic every day with Lombeh. The Sisters taught Amie how to make the sesame seed paste for herself. She kept at it, never giving up hope. Lombeh finally began to grow. The nutritious sesame seed paste was working.

Now, years later, Lombeh is a healthy, happy young girl. She loves having her dad throw her up in the air and catch her, but she’s even getting too big for that!

Lombeh doesn’t need our help anymore, but 200 million children’s lives are at risk from malnutrition. This shocking statistic is also why CAFOD will be working and campaigning this year to ask why and challenge the systems that mean children are hungry in our world of plenty.

But first, please join CAFOD’s Walk Against Hunger, tell your friends and family, and let’s give hunger the boot together!

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