Long walk a runaway success

2009-08-22 00:00

“AN epic experience, life-changing and 15 days well-spent,” is how a group of medical interns have described their Long Walk of Hope, a 1 700 km relay from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg to help raise awareness about HIV and Aids.

“We saw and learned so many things. We went there with a plan to give, but we ended up gaining so much,” said Craig Beringer, who is one of the interns.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Beringer and Nadia van Staden (both 25) said the group of doctors in training within the Pietermaritzburg hospital complex decided to embark on the walk to make a contribution to the fight against HIV and Aids, which are still on the rise in South Africa.

They will be giving money to seven orphanages they identified along the route, which mainly cater for children suffering from the disease.

“The orphanages were the most amazing thing about the project … We went into the townships and got to interact with the people … and I would say that was the most important moment for all of us,” said Van Staden.

The pair expressed awe at the spirit of ubuntu that exists in South Africa and people’s willingness to give to their project.

“Every night we slept at a different town and people so willingly opened up their homes …,” said van Staden.

Beringer recounted a story of a petrol attendant who, when told about the project, emptied his pockets of all the loose change he had made in the day.

However, the walk was not without its setbacks. One of the organisers, Dave Cloete, was knocked down by a car on the N2 outside Butterworth.

According to the pair, Cloete suffered a broken arm and a minor head injury, but is recovering well in hospital.

This was the same week the group had downsized to 12 from 19, after seven had gone back to work as was planned.

While they said the experience was frightening, the group decided to carry on with the journey after learning Cloete would be okay.

Beringer said they hoped the project would become bigger and gain more publicity.

Some of the interns lined up projects with clinics and orphanages they came into contact with and will offer to help them in future.

To read through the daily diaries of the participants, recounting fun- filled days, albeit marked with sore muscles and blistering feet, visit www.hopeanddreams.co.za.

And you can visit the same site to make a donation.

We went there with a plan to give, but we ended up gaining so much. — Intern Craig Beringer

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