AT the end of September a group of 16 Canberrans plan to walk up Mount Kosciuszko, which would be a fairly mundane exercise, except that they’re starting from the centre of Canberra.So instead of a few cheerful hours trundling up the short and mostly flat path from the top of a chairlift at Thredbo, or a much longer day’s hike up one of the steeper routes, this will be an eight-day, 240km odyssey.
“We only camp two nights,” says busy mother of two Kristie Szabo, a public servant who is doing the same walk for the third year in a row. When she set off in 2011, it was her first overnight bushwalking experience.
“There are farm stays all along the way,” Kristie explains. “We have a support vehicle as well so we don’t have to carry a full pack; we have daypacks, and the support vehicle goes from place to place.”
The Canberra to Kosciuszko hike is part of an international charity event, hike4hunger, which is run by an NGO called The Hunger Project to attract donations and remind us about the mind-blowing extent of hunger in the world.
The latest estimate by the UN World Food Programme put the number of hungry people at 870 million, down slightly from 1.023 billion in 2009.
The human consequences are staggering as well. Somewhere around 25,000 people die from hunger every day, about 15,000 of them children, and about half of all the deaths of children under five, worldwide, are caused by inadequate nutrition.
“The biggest reason why I do this charity is because they actually empower women,” says Kristie, who met the founder of the hike4hunger, Simon Lewis, on the 2011 walk.
“So, they look at educating and empowering women in these countries and they believe that women are the key to helping resolve [the problem of] hunger, so it’s not that they’re going in and just giving them the money to feed them. We’re giving them the resources to empower themselves.”
For more information about the hike4hunger, and to sponsor participants such as Kristie, go to hike4hunger.com.au