We sat down with Raga as she prepares to walk the Camino de Santiago for refugees.
Hi Raga, thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us today! Let’s get started:
The Camino Challenge, how exciting! What, where and why? Can you tell us more about it?
The Camino is part of a large network of Pilgrim routes that stretch across Europe, and all converge in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. The first time I heard about the Camino was through a Spanish friend whom I met in one of my previous challenges. I was telling her about my passion for working with refugees and my passion for supporting them, she recommended the Camino de Santiago. I was drawn to it by its religious history, I was curious to learn more and explore this place. I like learning about other religions. Apart from my love of exploring new places, to gather people into one place to unite and share the existence of God brings joy to my heart.
That is wonderful. When is the walk and how long is it?
I begin walking the 100km route on the 8th of October, and I am planning to walk it in 10 days.
Why are you doing this challenge for JRS?
I love how JRS staff and volunteers create space for their friends: ‘where they feel welcome’. Their accompaniment work is what inspires me the most and what makes them stand out from other organisations that support refugees. You have no idea what kind of difference someone can make by making a destitute refugee feel welcome. From a personal experience, it means so much, and I hear that a lot from our refugee friends.
I am grateful for being healthy and it is a privilege to have the freedom to help others who are in need. I was a refugee and I know the struggles that refugees go through. Being able to make a small difference in someone’s life makes my heart full. I do not only aspire to raise funds, but I am also doing this to create awareness for asylum seekers who are neglected and who are suffering, I aim to minimise their suffering in any way I can.
What are you nervous and excited about?
I am not going to lie; I am very bad with directions, so I am worried that I would get lost somewhere along the path. It’s bad to the point that a few of my friends are making jokes about using a tracker to find me. The fact that the place is religious with so many people following the same path makes me more relieved, as I will just follow everybody else.
I am excited to visit a new place, a new land. To meet new people, learn new things and be in nature. I have been very busy and haven’t taken time off in ages, so this will be a good chance to slow down, breath fresh air and eat organic food.
Have you done challenges in the past or is this your first?
Yes, I have done challenges in the past. I try to do that every year, but this year is different because it is the first time I am doing a challenge outside the UK, so I am very excited!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, one of my favourite things to do is to sing while walking, so I don’t lose track of the route. I plan to sing a song for the Camino de Santiago which goes like this:
“Do you know, do you know—- do you know which way to go?
Is it this way — that way, this way, that way”
That’s a lovely song! Thank you, Raga, for chatting with me, and I cannot wait to hear more about this adventure when you complete it.
Raga will be walking the Camino de Santiago on the 8th of October for JRS UK. The money she raises will help JRS to continue to accompany destitute and detained refugees in a spirit of hospitality, welcome and love.