Milnerton man’s mission to raise awareness

John Farelo is walking for a good cause.

Most people sit up and pay attention to the plight of women and children who face abuse during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, but besides some lip-biting and sympathetic noises, many feel there is not much more they can do.

Then there are people like John Farelo who put his foot down, one in front of the other, to raise awareness about the campaign.

Since 2014, Mr Farelo, a 58-year-old Milnerton resident, has walked more than 60km every day during the campaign which starts on November 25 and ends on December 10.

His goal is to cover as much distance as possible to show support for the many faceless victims he does not know and who don’t know him.

He wakes up around 4am and drives to the lighthouse where starts walking to Bloubergstrand, and sometimes, if his body’s up for it, to Melkbosstrand.

Mr Farelo, doesn’t go into detail about why exactly he does this every year, saying only that he is “passionate about this worthy cause”.

“I walk according to the weather, because the heat and wind make it very difficult. I either start at 4am or 5am and am seriously considering starting at 2am in order to finish the mileage. I am doing between 60 and 70km a day. I also walk in the afternoon.”

So far, he has walked 524.2km in nine days and would not have been able to do so without the help of his wife, Theresia.

Married for 36 years, Ms Farelo looks after her husband’s well-being during the challenging 16 days.

“I see to his general well-being by looking after his nourishment and making sure he rests, which is difficult because he just wants to keep going to finish the mileage. His body is taking a pounding and the blisters are now adding up and need to be plastered before every walk,” said Ms Farelo.

The sun and gusting south-easter have been the biggest challenges Mr Farelo’s faced this year, and he’s had to work around them by rescheduling his walking timetable.

This year he is raising money for each kilometre he walks for Community Intervention Centre (CIC) in Milnerton. The CIC is a non-profit organisation that helps people who have been exposed to abuse and violent crimes.

CIC manager Helen Le Roux believes what Mr Farelo is doing is motivational and inspiring.

“John is extremely humble and has never publicly spoken about why he is dedicated to walking every year in aid of this worthy cause.

“He sets aside time to train and encourages community members to walk with him. We urge the community to support this incredible effort, as John pledged all monies raised to be donated to CIC. You can either make a once-off donation of an amount you feel comfortable with or sponsor R1 for each kilometre John walks, as every donation contributes to the maintenance and upkeep of the CIC and the programmes we run in the community for victim support/trauma counselling,” said Ms Le Roux.

She said the CIC’s annual budget was about R500 000.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) had funded about R233 000 of the budget for the past three years, although that funding cycle was drawing to an end, while the rest came from fund-raising.

“Domestic violence affects more people every day than what we realise. A woman is abused every six minutes in South Africa by her partner, and one woman dies every six days due to abuse inflicted by a partner in an intimate relationship,” said Ms Le Roux.

“The CIC on average assists about 250 victims of crime every month – this is but a drop in the ocean if we consider our latest crime stats. This is often because people don’t know where to go for assistance,” she said.

* For more information about CIC, visit www.cic-capetown.org.za or find them on Facebook. Call their 24-hour hotline at 082 821 3447