Liz Lambert has been training in Mexico for her journey from one end of Ireland to the other. Photo courtesy Liz Lambert

First came Alcatraz ... and Ireland is next

By 
  • August 21, 2019

After taking the plunge in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay last year for Mary’s Meals, Liz Lambert has decided to brave the wet climate of Ireland this year to benefit almost 800 youth in Malawi.

Lambert swam the two kilometres from the famous Alcatraz Island to the mainland last September with the goal of raising $10,500 for Mary’s Meals and Habitat Primary School in Mzuzu, Malawi, providing a meal a day for the school’s 656 children, many of whom would not be able to attend school without such support. She exceeded her goal and is aiming higher this year as she seeks to raise $12,400 by making the trek from the top of Ireland to its most southerly point with friend and colleague Chris Howell. Two weeks before the trek was to begin, donations had already passed $5,200.

Lambert and Howell will be taking on the epic Malin to Mizen trek, about one million steps in all over about 650 kilometres, from Aug. 29-Sept. 16.

The goal has grown, just as the school has. Habitat now educates 775 students.

“I’m hoping I can create a community of people who are also committed to continuing to support those same kids year after year,” said Lambert, who lives in Toronto. “I think that’s a real nice opportunity that not many charities afford people, to know exactly where their funds are going.”

Lambert discovered Mary’s Meals a few years back when she read its founder and global chief executive Magnus McFarlane-Barrow’s book, The Shed That Fed a Million Children. In it, he details the journey that led to the creation of Mary’s Meals in 2002, which works in 17 nations around the globe and feeds thousands of children. 

Mary’s Meals’ model of empowering local people is what drew Lambert to the organization. Its approach gives a lot of say to the people being aided and funds aren’t swallowed up by administrative fees. The model sees the recipient benefiting.

She has since hosted fund-raisers but has now expanded the scope by taking on these epic journeys. The plan is to find something new each year.

“What am I going to do next year? Do I have to keep upping the ante and I’ll be climbing Everest five years from now?” she jokes.

Ultimately though, the goal is to raise awareness and engage others, like she’s done this year with Howell, who works alongside Lambert with ISX, International Student Exchange, which hosts international students in Canada and the United States and customizes trips so students can learn about these nations.

Mary’s Meals is ecstatic that Lambert is back for another fund-raiser. Irene Carroll, its community outreach co-ordinator, said Lambert’s support will feed 775 kids a meal a day for the entire year.

“Think about it, Liz’s generosity of spirt will result in life-altering moments for children she’s never met,” said Carroll. “These meals fill young, empty stomachs so they have the energy and opportunity to learn. This gives these children a chance at a brighter future.

“The kind efforts of volunteers like Liz are absolutely critical to us keeping our promise of a daily meal to those children who depend on us, as well as to Mary’s Meals being able to achieve our vision in the future.”

Lambert is thankful to ISX as well, which allowed her leeway to work on the fund-raiser. Lambert was able to work remotely while she trained for a few months in Tepoztlan, a small town in the mountains in Mexico.

Lambert and Howell plan on averaging about 40 kilometres walking each day, and some days expect to surpass that. They’ll be staying in Airbnbs for the most part, though they have connected with Mary’s Meals’ Irish chapter and will spend a few nights with some of its volunteers.

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