by ROWENA OREJANA
About 100 west Auckland Catholic young people took up the Caritas Challenge and walked 62.7 kilometres from St Patrick’s Church in Huapai to St Patrick’s Cathedral in the city.
For 17-year-old Shane D’Silva and 18-year-old Savieta Lea, it was a walk that opened their eyes to the plight of kids around the world who do not have the same privileges and opportunities they have at home.
“I was really excited but halfway through, I realised, ‘Wait, hold on, people go through this every day. It’s normal for them’. And here I am struggling halfway through. So, it’s like less of excitement but a realisation I know what people actually go through,” Savieta said.
Shane went through the same challenge last year, although the walk was much longer this time.
“It’s a very unique spiritual experience as well. When you go to retreats and stuff , it’s your time to reflect. But when you are walking, you’ve had eight hour conversations with people, you become silent. It’s that silence that allows you to reflect on your life,” he said.
The group followed a route that included visiting 11 churches around west Auckland leading
to their final destination.
They were supported by some of the parents and were given refreshments along the way by
various parish councils.
“For some parishes it was an eye-opener as well,” said Savieta. “They had a kind of
realisation of how involved we are and saw how much more they can help. It was also
a good way for us to improve our relations with our parish council and our parents.”
Shane explained the idea was cooked up by west Auckland youth leader Yvonne Purcell, who is all about pushing boundaries.
“Because, you know, if someone tells you we’re going to walk for 24 hours and it’s never been done before, it sounds crazy, especially for a bunch of kids out west who find it annoying walking from home to the train station,” Shane said with a laugh.
They said the walk allowed the group to deepen bonds of friendship. Having gone through the hardship of walking more than 60 kilometeres in one day also made them think about others instead of being self-centred.
“It puts you in that mentality, you kind of really think: I just went through that. How about other people? They go through the same thing every day,” Savieta said. “It sticks with you.”