The London Free Press News
2003-05-22 03:01:22

Weekend walkers fighting poverty

MONIQUE BEECH, Free Press Reporter

Participants in this weekend's World Partnership Walk won't just be stretching their limbs -- they'll be fighting world poverty.

For nine years, Londoners have gathered for a nine-kilometre trek at Springbank Park to raise money for health care, education and rural development in impoverished communities in Africa and Asia.

"It teaches people to help themselves," said convener Nizar Amlani.

This year's event is expected to draw 250 walkers and raise $47,000 in pledges.

Ten cities and 60,000 people across Canada, walkers and sponsors, are expected to attend the Sunday event with a goal to raise $3.5 million.

Since it began in 1985, Partnership Walk, organized by the Aga Khan Foundation, has raised more than $20 million, with every dollar matched by the Canadian International Development Agency.

But the fundraiser also raises public awareness of poverty-stricken countries, Amlani said.

"It's about supporting the world's poor."

Awareness comes with a splash of fun -- activities include face painting, cultural bake goods, dance and art work.

"The event promotes community awareness but it's also a family fun day," said Rhonna Da Costa Gomez, the event's master of ceremonies.

Partnership Walk participants who raise $100 or more qualify to win such prizes as a DVD player, digital camera and designer watch.

Those who raise $1,000 or more are entered to win a Toyota Camry, Honda Civic or a Las Vegas vacation.

The walk goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with registration starting at 9:30 a.m.