Trekking across the Sahara Desert in Coventry War Memorial Park


On 18 August and 27 August 2020, Coventry War Memorial Park will turn into the Sahara Desert for a virtual trek from Coventry to South Sudan, created by volunteer Juliet Hill, to raise funds for our Coventry-based charity, Friends of Ibba Girls’ School (FIGS).

The idea for the virtual trek came during lockdown. Juliet is an experienced and intrepid long-distance walker and had planned, before the coronavirus pandemic, to spend this summer walking from Mexico to the Canadian border (on the famous Pacific Crest Trail). Her plans were dashed as the situation in Europe worsened, so instead she opted to set up a virtual trek to use her walk planning skills and to raise money for the charity.

Juliet is inviting park-goers to walk or run for “Steps for South Sudan”, contributing kilometres to the walk total and giving a financial donation as well.

Juliet Hill has designed the long virtual walk which goes from Coventry, headquarters of the charity Friends of Ibba Girls School, to the school itself in Ibba, South Sudan, which is in East Africa – a distance of 8,494 kilometres (over 5,000 miles).

So far, walkers and runners have donated enough kilometres to take Juliet’s virtual trek down to Dover, across France, on a boat to Algeria – and now the virtual trek has started walking south across the Sahara Desert. Every few days, Juliet counts up how much distance has been “donated” and writes an imaginative blog about where the trek team has got to along with sights and experiences along the way. Click here for details of the trek and the regular blogs.

Crossing the Sahara Desert is a huge undertaking. It covers an area of 8.6 million square kilometres – more than 1,500 kilometres from north to south, which is the route to South Sudan. Juliet would like many others to join her for this arduous imaginary crossing.

Twenty-four year old Juliet, who lives in Earlsdon, Coventry, said “I am enjoying planning this trek, and writing regular blogs about the journey. It was so frustrating losing my chance this summer to walk in North America, but this project is fascinating and I am learning a lot about the places we virtually visit. We have all kinds of donors to the trek – hospital managers, youth groups, a groundsman, a church youth worker. Some may contribute only a mile or two, others are regulars. We welcome all kinds of contributions. We look forward to an afternoon of fun and friendship in the Memorial Park while also supporting the valuable cause of girls education.”

Jean Hartley is a FIGS trustee, working with Juliet on the virtual trek. She said “I am looking forward to the afternoon in Memorial Park with Steps for South Sudan, and using our imaginations to think of it as the Sahara. I hope many people will come along and enjoy the afternoon and participate – because the trek is still less than halfway to its destination! Crossing the Sahara will be a huge stride forward”.

Can you help Juliet to make the Saharan crossing? Come and join us on 18 or 27 August 2020, between 15:00 and 19:00. To contact Juliet Hill, leader of the virtual trek and organiser of the Memorial Park event, email [email protected].

Photo credit

Photo of Coventry War Memorial Park, taken in 2012 by 'Clive', published under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), available on Flickr.

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