Trek for safer motherhood

Tan Parsons A PHOTOGRAPHER and human rights campaigner from Hampstead is trekking 130km this summer to help raise �350,000 for safer motherhood in Ethiopia. Nancy Durrell McKenna, of Fitzjohn s Avenue, is the founder of SafeHands For Mothers and has spent

Tan Parsons

A PHOTOGRAPHER and human rights campaigner from Hampstead is trekking 130km this summer to help raise �350,000 for safer motherhood in Ethiopia.

Nancy Durrell McKenna, of Fitzjohn's Avenue, is the founder of SafeHands For Mothers and has spent two decades studying childbirth worldwide and fighting for better maternity care in poor countries.

On June 14, she and 19 others will set off from Britain and travel to north-west Spain, where they will make their pilgrimage from Tricastela to Santiago de Compostela.


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She said: "The pilgrimage will be a test of physical endurance for all - and yet our exertion will pale in significance next to the hardships endured by these women, for whom life is one of daily physical endurance.

"We are doing this because of the fact one woman dies somewhere in the world every minute because of pregnancy-related complications, and everyone feels this is a cause worth upping the ante for."

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Among those taking part in the trek are five Australian Aborigines who have pledged to raise money for the women of Ethiopia. Each person taking part will aim to raise a minimum of �10,000 and the cash will go towards things like new training centres in Ethiopia and making technology available to help educate people in the most remote parts of the country.

Also doing the trek will be a team of eight 'walking extremists', including four doctors from the Whittington Hospital, who will complete the pilgrimage in just one day.

The first description of the road to Santiago was made by the French pilgrim Pope Calixtus II, who made the journey 900 years ago.

The journey is a beautiful one and ends in the fabulous cathedral of Santiago, where the mortal remains of St James - one of Jesus' most beloved apostles - are entombed.

Ms Durrell McKenna's own training regime is going well so far and she is covering the pastures of Hampstead and Highgate at a good pace.

"I'm getting to know the open spaces of the area extremely well," she said. "What's great about it is that it's so hilly so it's great practice. We've criss-crossed all over the Heath.

"You have to cover 125km [75 miles] to officially become a pilgrim, and we will do that this summer. People make pilgrimages for many reasons - sometimes spiritual, sometimes to lose weight.

"This is a fantastic cause and it's going to be very exciting for us."

There is still a limited number of places left to join the group making the trek. For information about joining, call Jane on 07740 475 221 or visit www.safehands.org.

To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/safehandswalkforlife.

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