Reverend Kev Walks the Walk

In Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Within weeks of Russia invading Ukraine last year, Rev. Kevin Moore of Port Hope United Church organized a 23-km. fundraising walk from Port Hope to Cobourg and back in support of the first refugee families to be welcomed into the local community through Northumberland For Ukraine Families.

This year, he’s back on April 29 with a walk to raise money for life-saving medical services in northwest Syria, an area devastated by a catastrophic earthquake that is getting virtually no support from the Syrian government.

Last year’s goal was $10,000. Rev. Moore found that, by the time the walk was completed and donations had all come in, they raised more like $35,000.

This year’s goal of $20,000 would pay for more than a month of the important work being done directly by Action for Humanity Canada in Syria’s earthquake-ravaged communities through their medical mobile clinic that travels where it is needed.

“They drive it in, set it up and see hundreds of people in a day, coming and going,” he said.

This mobile clinic has been servicing this area for almost 13 years – an area, as Rev. Moore noted, that has zero government support. Bashar al-Assad, who has been president of Syria for more than 20 years, has virtually abandoned them.

“Because some of the people who have been in conflict with him are in that part of Syria, basically he just said, ‘Fine,’ and left them to fend for themselves.”

The earthquake left the area sorely lacking in the most basic things. Even the hospital has to cope with shortages and power outages, which makes a viable medical mobile clinic a life-and-death necessity.

And for the workers, Rev. Moore pointed out, it’s personal. Five Action for Humanity members were lost in the earthquake, and pretty well everyone on the ground doing this work has lost at least one family member in the disaster.

Rev. Moore has been involved with this issue himself for years. Like everyone else, he was struck to the heart in 2015 by scenes of two-year-old Alan Kurdi washing up ashore in Turkey – drowned during his family’s desperate efforts to escape a regime in which Assad spared his people no cruelty or suffering in his efforts to cling to power.

Working with a Toronto church at the time, he helped to bring a Syrian family to his community. With the April 29 walk, he is working to help care for Syrians facing Assad’s indifference in the face of a devastating natural disaster.

Last year’s walk saw about 40 participants turning out at different points along the route, augmenting a core group of about 12 who went the entire distance from Port Hope United Church to Victoria Hall and back. It took them from roughly 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On April 29 at 9 a.m., Port Hope United Church will again see participants move take off and head east, escorted by Port Hope and Cobourg police services to ensure their safety as they walk down a major county road.

Port Hope’s new Police Chief Tim Farquharson will walk with them, as will Mayor Olga Hankivsky – a woman with her own history of involvement. At the time of last year’s walk, she was spearheading the Northumberland For Ukraine Families group.

Among the entourage as well, they will welcome some representatives from Action for Humanity Canada – a partnership between a Christian church and a Muslim relief effort, Rev. Moore said.

Cobourg Mayor Lucas Cleveland is out of the country, but Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty will meet the contingent as they enter Cobourg and escort them to Victoria Hall for a small civic reception.

Then it’s back to Port Hope, where the event will wind up at Cafe Lviv at 90 Mill St. N. – established in December by Ukrainian refugees in the community.

“They have agreed to host us for a little reception, and kind of come full circle from last year’s walk.” Rev. Moore said.

Everyone is welcome – it’s described as an organic event that does not require pledge sheets and pre-registration, with many ways to support the effort.

“If they want to walk, and try and get some supporters, that’s wonderful. If they show up the day of and raise money from friends and neighbours, that’s fine too.”

Donations can also be made on the Canada Helps site – just look for Rev Kev’s Walk – or bring a cash or cheque donation with you. Cheques can be made payable to Port Hope United Church with “Syria” on the subject line.

“Every nickel goes to this effort. We are a registered charity, Action for Humantiy is a registered charity,” he said.

Interviewed two weeks prior to the walk, he noted that the kitty sat at $6,000 – “so we have a ways to go.”

If the generosity shown by the community last year is any indication, they will close the gap.

And there’s a further opportunity to show your support at a May 4 concert at the church at 6:30 p.m., a family-friendly program by Donna & Andy.

Musicians Donna Rhodenizer and Andy Duinker have a Juno nomination to their credit, as well as a number of East Coast Music Association awards.

“Some kids will join them in a pop-up choir, and also our choir will be with them,” Rev. Moore said.

“We will be taking a free-will offering and giving the proceeds to the Syrian effort as well.”

He also extended the invitation to parents whose children would like to be part of the pop-up choir to reach out to him.

“So there’s lots of ways for people to support this effort,” he summed up.

“Action for Humanity is also reaching out to all the people in their networks so – between our efforts and their efforts – I am very confident we will get there.

“And if we go over, so much the better.”

For those that wish to donate click here

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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