SUPPORTING VICTIMS OF MODERN SLAVERY -------------- Father and Son Walking to Rome on the ancient pilgrimage route.
From the 5th to the 12th April, we will be walking the Via Francigena, the ancient road connecting Canterbury and Rome. We only have one week, so we will be starting the journey in the city of Viterbo (roughly 100 kilometres north of Rome). On the way, we will stay in hostels and guest houses open to pilgrims travelling along the trail.
HERE'S HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In 2014 I (Karamat ) spent three or four, extremely long, days lying in my bed in the Critical Care Unit at the Birmingham QE Hospital, having spent the previous seven days under a general anaesthetic. They had operated on me, twice, during that period. Apparently I nearly did not wake up.
I was completely immobile. I could not move about in the bed, without help. Thoughts such as 'Is this it?' Or 'Will I ever be able to put on my walking boots again?' were constantly going through my mind.
Then one day the physio man came; a supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers (so I called him Wolf Man). He said, "when I come tomorrow, I want you to walk". It took a while to register what he had said. What is this walking that he is talking about? Who walks? How do you do it? I could do it in my head, but nothing more. At that time I even needed help to turn over in my bed.
Tomorrow came. True to his word he was there. It took a great deal of effort to get out of my bed. Then I managed to do it. I took two, maybe three, steps. What a mighty feat it was. I had climbed my K2. The rest was going to follow. "I will make sure it does", I thought.
Over the next couple of weeks, I built on those first steps. I walked the ward, progressively going further, until one day managing to do the whole length. I then walked out of the ward, along the long corridor, all the way to the lifts.
The next, possibly the last, major challenge was to walk the stairs. The first time I did it, I nearly fell down. I discovered that walking the stairs was different from walking on the flat. Apparently you have to remember to bend your legs as you climb up or down. I was just like those very young children whose parents worry when they have to navigate the stairs.
Once I had worked out how to do the stairs, I walked down to the next floor, holding very tightly to the railing. Then two floors, then three.....
After coming home I walked regularly; almost daily. Each time walking that much further. After a year I walked 12 miles, the distance between our house and the hospital. I was accompanied by some 25 friends and family.
OFF TO ITALY
And now over Easter, nearly four years on from waking up from my operation, I have decided to embark on a proper long walk, accompanied by my son with his younger legs. So a bit of a challenge. We are going to Italy where we shall walk everyday.
I am really looking forward to spending time with my son and using my legs for the purpose they were meant for. And, of course, raising money for Jericho Foundation in their work to support victims of Modern Slavery. http://jericho.org.uk/