Instead of embarking on foot to travel World Partnership Walk routes in 10 cities across the country in 2020, Walk supporters across Canada set off on a digital journey to help fight global poverty.
Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s (AKFC) two major fundraising campaigns—World Partnership Walk and World Partnership Golf—were suspended in early 2020 due to COVID-19.
But despite the pause in fundraising, the need for support was only growing. While the pandemic is framed as a health crisis, COVID-19 has wide-ranging social and economic effects—compromising the education of hundreds of millions of students, plunging families into hunger, and clawing back decades of gains in women’s empowerment and gender equality. Homeschooling children during school closures, caring for sick household members and other unpaid domestic work have fallen disproportionately to women.
Programs in Africa and Asia supported by AKFC immediately adapted to respond to urgent needs, like providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers (in particular, frontline workers, the majority of whom are women); supporting teachers, students and parents as they undertake distance learning; and putting measures in place to safeguard against rising risks of sexual and gender-based violence brought on by lockdown measures.
To ensure continued support for these crucial programs, AKFC teamed up with Aga Khan Foundation USA to launch the Virtual Voyage in October. Over the course of the fall, Voyage participants travelled to four countries in Africa and Asia in an online fundraising campaign.
Participants who signed up for this new and innovative Walk campaign learned about the immediate response to COVID-19 in four countries where the Aga Khan Development Network is active, as well as the long-term progress made possible thanks to annual support from the Walk.
The Voyage’s first stop was in Kenya. Voyagers traveled alongside nurses and doctors like Dr. Ben Lipesa, as they staffed a mobile clinic in a rural village in their region before the pandemic, providing services such as family planning, pre- and post-natal care, pediatrics, cancer screening, HIV testing and dispensing medications.