Sheffield trio carry firewood on their backs to raise awareness of women living in poverty

Mike West, Ashley Willis and Laura Willis carrying firewood on the 50th Sheffield May Day Trek
Mike West, Ashley Willis and Laura Willis carrying firewood on the 50th Sheffield May Day Trek

A Sheffield trio set off on a walk with a difference - by strapping firewood onto their backs.

Husband and wife Ashley and Laura Willis, along with friend Mike West, all members of St Augustine’s Church, Brocco Bank, Endcliffe, were among 200 people who took part in the 50th Sheffield May Day Trek to raise cash for Christian Aid.

But the trio carried firewood on their backs for the duration of the 11-mile walk in recognition of Ethiopian women living in poverty, many of whom have to walk for miles to gather firewood to sell to feed their families.

This year Christian Aid is using Loko Jarso in Ethiopia as an example of the hardships some women face, pointing out that she makes an eight hour trip four times a week to gather wood wearing just flip flops on her feet.

She sells the wood to feed her children one small meal a day.

Women and girls from Loko’s community are expected to fetch and carry wood and water to provide for their family.

Laura said: “The story of Loko really struck a chord with me as she is a similar age to me and yet her life is so different.

“So many of the opportunities I have had and the things I take for granted she doesn’t have and this inequality is so terribly unfair.

“I wanted to better understand what life was like for her. Carrying the wood for 11 miles made me think how lucky I am.

“What I was carrying was such a small amount compared with what Loko does every day, but I really felt the weight of those logs on my back and I was very relieved to be able to put my bag down at the end of the day and have a cup of tea and a cake.

“To have to carry that load day after day, and then to have to try to sell it just to scrape together enough money to feed her family - it’s incredible and I really admire Loko’s courage, resilience and faith, but no one should have to live in such extreme poverty.”