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This year’s walk through the heart of Berlin was a great success, and it was fun as well. The weather was brilliant, not too hot, and there was no rain to dampen anyone’s spirits. More than 30 walkers gathered at Café Dollinger in Charlottenburg and we picked up others along the way. There was even an RBB TV crew to film the start. That was good news because they didn’t know there was a big surprise in store.
For the past three years we have walked for Patrick Okoroafor who had been wrongfully imprisoned in Nigeria since he was 14 years old. He was even condemned to death at the age of 16. But the unyielding pressure from Amnesty International finally helped to bring about his release on 30 April 2012 – after 17 years in jail. It was a great honour for us to have Patrick and his brother Henry joining us in the Ten Mile Walk. As Patrick said at the end: “That’s the longest walk I’ve ever taken in my life. I’m so grateful to Amnesty International and for more than ten thousand cards from around the world that gave me hope in the hardest times. I would not have survived without this help, and I thank God that I can be here today.”
As is our tradition, the walkers signed cards at the start and posted them en route. This year we sent our ‘Never give up’ cards to Patrick’s Mum in Nigeria to say how happy we are at his release. This year’s walk was dedicated to Amnesty International’s Control Arms Campaign, pushing for a bullet-proof international Arms Trade Treaty, and we distributed almost three hundred flyers along the way to very interested passers-by. As for fun – when we passed under a bridge that produces great echoes, we sang ‘You’ll never walk alone’ for Patrick, like we did when he was still in prison. Everyone was tired but elated by the time we reached the end. The welcoming group was there to meet us, and we all sat down together in the garden beside the water, eating, quenching our thirst and of course talking. It’s funny, but when you’re on the Ten Mile Walk it really cranks up your voice box – it must be the good vibrations.
It usually takes a couple of weeks before all the money for the sponsored walkers is paid in to the website. So there’s still plenty of time to contribute – every little counts on the way to achieving universal human rights. (Spende auf Konto 80 90 100. Bank für Sozialwirtschaft . BLZ 370 205 00 unter dem Stichwort Ten Mile Walk 1312 - Juni 2012).
A big thank-you to all who came along: the members of various Amnesty International groups in Berlin and Braunschweig – and the many friends from home and abroad. See you next year! Everyone is welcome!