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The Indonesian red and white flag and the Union Jack sticking from Berry Natalegawa’s backpack suggest the man is on a mission.
But few people passing him striding purposefully along country roads would guess he is walking 700 kilometers from London to Edinburgh… on foot, by himself?
Why on earth would someone plan to walk for 14 days in England’s unpredictable weather? During springtime, afternoons can be as sunny as in Jakarta at 28 degrees Celsius and evenings a pleasant 13 degrees Celsius.
The following day, however, could quite possibly bring pouring rain, 18 degrees Celsius, with temperatures dropping to almost freezing in the evening?
“I’m so grateful I have a healthy family and children that can enjoy a good education, yet there are so many children in the world born in terrible conditions,” Berry told The Jakarta Post.
“Children who are forced to work from a very young age, and who are voiceless. Imagine one being your child?”
That is the reason Berry, an Indonesian architect by trade — and a black belt seasoned karate instructor — who has been residing in London since 1976, felt the need to do something concrete to help.
“There are so many disadvantaged children in the world, and it could have been me or my children instead in their shoes”?
Berry feels blessed his three children all had access to good schooling and choices in life: His youngest, 11 years old is in secondary school, his middle child, 18, is entering the University of Leeds this coming autumn, and his eldest, 21, is in her final year at the University of Brighton?
Last year, a couple of months before his 48th birthday, Berry decided to walk to raise funds for disadvantaged children.
“By walking, I can raise funds without disturbing other people while promoting my cause,” Berry said.
“People I met on the walk were so supportive when they saw me, they greeted me and showed me the way. That would make my day. The worst part of this walk was feeling lonely”?
To prepare himself, Berry walked four hours a day for the last six months. He started training last October by walking 30 kilometers a day for his 50 kilometer-a-day walking adventure?
While his walk went according to plan, Berry nevertheless encountered a few challenges. For instance, he had to change his route from main roads to country lanes on his third day, upon reaching Wansford, around 150 kilometers outside of London.
The bigger roads were so busy and packed with trucks zooming past that it became unsafe for him. His rerouting cost him extra miles.
“But, it’s worth it, and much safer for me,” said Berry talking on his hands-free mobile phone while walking.??
Another unforeseen problem occurred on his fifth walking day, in West Drayton, approximately 200 kilometers from London. Berry realized he had dropped the poncho he used to protect himself from hypothermia.
“I went back to look for it but could not find it. The detour cost me an extra 40 minutes’ walking,” said Berry in a rather annoyed voice.
There were also surprising moments. “While stopping in front of a farm in Oundle, 100 kilometers out of North London, I was suddenly greeted by a farmer in Indonesian who insisted I should have tea at his house. Apparently the farmer had visited Indonesia many times between 1968 and 1990 and was delighted to brush up his rusty Indonesian,” said Berry in a more cheerful voice. All the diversions that day shifted his arrival time to from 8 p.m., when light is still on the horizon, to 10 p.m. — by which time it was pitch dark.
“It was a tough lesson for me, I was so tired last night [yet] I couldn’t keep my eyes shut, my feet felt like they still wanted to move until 3 a.m.,” said an exhausted Berry.
“As a result, I started late today, at 10 a.m. But after a cup of coffee and my egg and bread for breakfast, I was ready to walk again,” he said.
“I had to adapt my diet on this journey; I can’t eat any rice because it is too heavy for my stomach.
Instead I have bread, cheese, tomato, vegetables for lunch and pasta for dinner, topped up with fruit juice, water and amino acid and glutamine food supplements to replenish my muscles,” added Berry.
His 700-kilometer walk, which is approximately the distance from Jakarta to Malang in East Java, ended in Edinburgh last Saturday afternoon at 3.40 p.m.
For the journey, Berry equipped himself with everything from a BlackBerry phone with a route map, to Coolmax special non-abrasive socks, walking sticks that look like ski poles and traditional Indonesian bee massage balm (balsem tawon).
Berry chose to support UNICEF because of its work to ensure children survive, thrive and are protected.
“It is a well known and professional organization. The money [raised] will be allocated to the cause directly, not wasted on unnecessary things,” explained Berry. Before Berry started his walk from London on Saturday May 22, he had raised £3,200 British out of his targeted 250,000 pounds (Rp 3.4 billion).
Two weeks later, donations increased by more than £820.
Ju-Lin Tan, UNICEF International media officer, couldn’t hold his excitement in: “Fantastic. It’s great that somebody’s doing this to raise funds for this good cause.”
Berry’s plan after the walk is to make sure donors know where their money went and to keep on banging the drum so that he will meet his goal before he closes his website on March, 8, 2015.
“I am grateful for every penny donated to the cause,” said Berry. “My follow-up plan is to keep on publicizing my cause to raise funds by using social media such as FaceBook & Twitter and my website, to present UNICEF’s activities to schools in my local area, and to approach small and medium-sized businesses. These children are worth every effort”.
Photos & map courtesy of Berry Natalegawa
Source: The Jakarta Post