Ninety Miles for Ninety Years

From 5th July to 16th July ninety-year-old Pam Brooks takes on an epic 90-mile walk for her 90th birthday along the Sussex coastline to raise money for Mothers’ Union’s life-changing Literacy and Financial Education programmes in Burundi.

In celebration of her upcoming ninetieth birthday, Pam Brooks, from Rustington, West Sussex, will embark on a remarkable journey: a ninety-mile trek along the stunning Sussex coastline.

Beginning her adventure in Selsey, Pam will walk the picturesque landscape of Sussex, concluding her journey at Winchelsea Beach near the Kent border.

Pam will tackle this challenging feat with other friends, walking nine legs over twelve days, to raise funds for church projects via the Mothers’ Union Literacy and Financial Education programme in Burundi, one of the world’s most impoverished nations.

Pam  lives in West Sussex, but her links with Burundi go back to 1957 when she first visited the country. Pam and her husband lived in Burundi until 1979 with their family and since retirement in 1993, visited every year over Lent until 2014.  During these trips, Pam’s passion for supporting local communities led her to explore the hills of Burundi, visiting projects initiated by Mothers’ Union groups aimed at promoting literacy and income-generating activities.

“I wanted to commemorate my birthday in a meaningful way, but the thought of extreme activities like skydiving or cliff abseiling didn’t resonate with me,” shared Pam. “Instead, I invite others to join me as we explore the breathtaking Sussex coastline together.”

Through her walk, Pam is raising funds to support Mothers’ Union’s Literacy and Financial Education Programme in Burundi.  Her walk will be dedicated to the memory of her dear friend Pelagie Simbinuba, the much-loved Mothers’ Union leader in Matana Diocese, Burundi, who tragically died earlier this year while visiting family in Canada.

You can sponsor Pam at here via JustGiving.

She’s has already raised nearly £7,000.

The money raised will make an immeasurable difference to the lives of countless women in Burundi, helping them learn to read and write which will transform their own lives, families and communities for the generations to come

“The programme is life changing… it gives you a new (lease of) life. We have learnt to read and write so it has opened our eyes. We make money and can feed and clothe ourselves and our children. We have bought land and have built our own houses. We (women) have become the light of our families.” Mothers’ Union leader from the Diocese of Matana, Burundi.

  • Over 165,400 individuals have participated in the programme, 77% of whom are women.
  • Over 144,000 women, or 89%, can now read and write to the nationally-approved standard.
  • 7,500 have also accessed parenting education, enriching their lives and communities as a whole.

Here’s Deo and Verdiane’s story.

Back in 2005, before joining the literacy circle Deo and Verdiane had a challenging difficult relationship. They would quarrel constantly because Deo felt his wife was worthless. He never consulted her in any decision-making and used a lot of money to buy alcohol for himself. He regularly beat his wife Verdiane and forbade her to participate in community meetings or work to support their family. They were living in poverty and were troubled. But when they joined the literacy circle, their family life changed. Through various discussions with other learners, Deo began to appreciate Verdiane was fully capable, had many talents and skills that could help the whole family.

So he started to involve Verdiane in household decisions and now their income has increased.

Dea said, ‘Our family is happy. We are now literate and can do business without being cheated at the market. I want to encourage my wife to stand for the next election as a leader of our community. We work together and run a small business. I even have a new roof on my house.’ They waited until their first child was five before having a second baby and are now prospering. Verdiane says, ‘Everything has changed [thanks to this programme]. We learned a lot, more than just numeracy and literacy skills. We have learned about unity and working together and the importance of education for everyone.’

Want to find out more about Mothers’ Union’s  work in Burundi?

To find out more about Mothers’ Union’s work in Burundi, you can read about the impact our the programmes in Burundi here.

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