Thousands of Australians will walk in solidarity with the people of Myanmar this St Ignatius Day, 31 July, by taking part in One Foot Raised.

One Foot Raised challenges participants to walk and raise awareness and much-needed funds for Jesuit Mission’s life-giving work in Myanmar and communities in crisis.

A number of prominent Australian Jesuit schools and parishes have already signed up for the challenge, and Jesuit Mission Australia is encouraging other Catholic schools, parishes and groups to join the campaign for justice in Myanmar.

‘Myanmar is now a humanitarian, human rights, political and economic catastrophe. The United Nations report that a third of the population, 18–19 million people, are in great humanitarian need, of whom 6 million at least are children,’ said Australian Jesuit Fr Mark Raper SJ, a long-time friend of the Jesuit Mission Family and previous superior of Myanmar Jesuit Region.

Millions of internally displaced people are living in temporary shelters built with tarpaulin sheets and bamboo, unprotected from the rain and wind, and from the increasingly indiscriminate artillery and air strikes from the military. People are living in fear, struggling for their basic needs, with limited food, water, income and jobs available in these camps.

Speaking anonymously from Myanmar, a staff member of one of Jesuit Mission’s projects verbally shared her confronting and tragic personal story of surviving years of conflict in Myanmar and of being displaced multiple times in her search for safety, as well as her motivation for working in one of the thousands of camps for displaced people. Sadly, her story is common to most people in Myanmar, as is the sentiment of her closing words.

‘We’d like to say to our international brothers and sisters not to forget us,’ she says. ‘At the same time, we are very thankful to all of you for your solidarity and kindness. Your support has a big impact on our children for their continuity of their learning, their protection and their wellbeing.’

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The generous and compassionate support from the Australian Catholic community has enabled Jesuit Mission Australia to provide a beacon of hope for some of Myanmar’s most vulnerable women, men and children for around two decades.

Jesuit Mission’s partners continue to provide education to more than 2,000 students across three educational institutions and community colleges, and to improve access to safe, quality education for more than 5,000 children living in internally displaced people (IDP) camps. They continue to prioritise emergency relief such as medicines, shelter, food and clothing to those who are displaced and trapped.

Jesuit Mission Australia’s CEO, Helen Forde, calls on Australians to inspire hope for Myanmar’s youth by walking in the footsteps of St Ignatius on 31 July, embodying the spirit of living with ‘One Foot Raised’ for marginalised communities.

‘Walking together, we can shine a light on the urgent needs of the people in Myanmar and offer them a lifeline of support and hope. Our steps symbolise the solidarity and compassion we share with those facing unimaginable challenges,’ said Ms Forde.

Participants can choose their distance:

  • 2 kilometres—Walk for Education
  • 4 kilometres—Walk for Shelter
  • 10 kilometres—Walk for Peace
  • 18 kilometres—Walk for Justice

Sign up to take on the One Foot Raised challenge at onefootraised.org.au.

Photos courtesy of Jesuit Mission Australia.