Recap: WLAR 2019, the worst and best walk EVER

So, it’s been just over a month since we finished Walk Like a Refugee 2019. And it’s taking me so long to get around to thanking everyone individually. If I haven’t gotten to you yet, YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN!

This year’s walk was hands down the most challenging experience yet. It was soooooo hot. And sunny. And hot. When it wasn’t pouring rain, that is. Despite what some people seem to think, I’m not actually that much of an outdoorsy type, so it doesn’t occur to me to do things like research potential problems we might encounter on the road during Walk Like a Refugee. So, you can imagine my thrill when I discovered that June is TICK SEASON in Ontario. There are literally thousands of them, maybe hundreds of thousands, including deer ticks, which carry lyme disease. And since some of the walk involved walking in tall grass we got covered in them. Another thing you might not know about me is that I am kind of a paranoid hypochondriac, which means that this was not a lot of fun and also that I probably have lyme disease. We kept finding ticks on us and then I would FREAK OUT and scream. Then tell the kid not to be scared. Like a psycho. So, tick checks become part of our routine and we appear to have survived.

This is a tick. They suck your blood and burrow inside your body (!!!) and carry diseases and they were everywhere. This one was in our hotel room, because we obviously brought it there.

The sun was also blazingly, cripplingly hot. Previous walks have taken place earlier or later in the year, so I didn’t realize how hot it would be. After a day of torrential downpour, people seemed to think sun was great news. “At least the weather is good today!” they kept saying. Yeah, have you ever walked for 8 straight hours in the blazing sun on hot concrete with no shade for 20 kilometres? This is NOT GOOD. I hate sun. I got heat exhaustion. It’s when you get exhausted. From being TOO HOT.

David. During the good times. Before the sun, in the pouring rain. We did not know at the time that these were the good times.

Kismet, who lives by the motto “No dog left unpet,” also got bit by a great dane and was all “I’ll never pet another dog again!” But five minutes later she saw another dog and was all, “Oooh! A dog! Can I pet it???” So, whatever.

Kismet got bit by a great dane, The dog pictured is not the great dane.

But you know what? As difficult as I found this year’s walk, what we experienced was nothing compared to the difficult conditions refugees face when they are forced to leave their homes and walk for hundreds of miles to safety. In fact, we probably experienced something a little closer to the actual experience and still a thousand times less terrible. So, who am I to complain? (I will anyway.)

Our arrival in Niagara Falls. The parade must have gotten lost somewhere.

Also, I am thrilled to report that this year’s walk was our most successful so far! We have hit our goal of $25,000 to put towards refugee causes, mainly the sponsorship of a couple of the Lost Boys of Manus Island. This is thanks to our incredible supporters and we are so grateful to be surrounded by, and to have access to, a community that cares about the world’s most vulnerable people. Thanks, y’all.

Changes are afoot. We intend to continue these fundraising efforts throughout the year as we ramp up for Walk Like a Refugee 2020 (or maybe 2021, depending on how the preparations go), which may or may not involve a different route. We have many refugee sponsorships that we are hoping to help with and put into motion, some of which are in partnership with Hand to Hand Supporting Newcomers Canada. So, we are not done yet.

I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Stay tuned. Thank you so much. We love you.

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