Thursday, June 14, 2012


Tomorrow, three more friends, Susan, Gerda and Esther, are boarding the plane to Madrid to start their Camino in Burgos, Spain, on Sunday.  After many months of planning, they are ready to join Emilene and Eddie on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  All of them are dedicating their journey to MSA and to the patients with the disease all over the world!

Susan Albertyn

Susan and her happy family have been friends of ours for decades.  We have been fortunate to share our lives and, whether it’s a meal or a holiday, you can count on having fun with them around!  Trained to draw building plans, she has been a great help with my home renovation projects.  You can depend on her to always find a practical solution for any problem.  Susan always sees the comical side in any situation and anyone sharing a journey with her will have a lot of fun! Her loving support has been invaluable to me.  She, and her sister Gerda, are also dedicating their pilgrimage to their dad who had Parkinson’s. 

Emilene Ferreira

Emilene was introduced to me on 3 October during last year’s walk for MSA.  I was immediately drawn to her enthusiastic, warm and caring personality. At that stage she was already planning to walk the Camino.  Her enthusiasm infected me, and I started encouraging my friend, Susan, whom I knew dreamed to do this as well.  Beneath her slight and elegantly dressed exterior hides a steely determination that has enabled her to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro!

Eddie Waring

Eddie is a regular hiking partner of Emilene. Any doubts I had about his willingness to do this for MSA was wiped away when he walked in and with a warm smile assured me that he is on board for this project!  Eddie travels the world and hikes daily.  I have no doubts about his physical ability to complete this gruelling 780 km walk!

Gerda de Villiers

Gerda, being Susan’s sister, comes from the same stock and is a mentally strong person and not likely to give up anything she has started.  She works full time as a financial administrator and has trained and started a second career as a lifecoach.   Obviously the kind of person that cares deeply for others!  Although she didn't have a lot of time for training, she is an experienced hiker and has, with Esther and Susan, completed a couple of difficult hikes. 

Esther Nieder-Heitmann
This week I had the privilege to meet Esther, who works full time as an occupational therapist with disabled children.  She also runs a Bed & breakfast. This warm, soft spoken lady is enthusiastic to sow the MSA seeds on the Camino path to Santiago.  God has chosen and sent me another, very worthy warrior for the MSA team!

Although she is not hiking the Camino in Spain, my very dear friend, Karin, accompanies me every day on the Camino of my life.  She is the creator of this blog and also our MSA facebook page and spends many hours on achieving technical perfection and  also writes when it’s necessary.  Karin has taught me everything I know about blogging and facebook, enabling me to do what I do now.  She organised the walk on MSA day on 3 October last year.  Karin often sweeps in here with her laptop under her one arm and some delicious treat under the other arm to warm up my day.  She hides sweet treats under my pillow, tucks me in under a warm blanket, drives me to appointments and holds my hand when life gets me down.  From her I have received countless bunches of flowers, sometimes from her beautiful garden.  She is a creative writer who encourages and inspires me to see the beauty in all situations.  You get the drift!  My life would be empty without the love she so generously bestows on me. I am truly blessed to have her as a friend and, although too often in the back ground, she is an integral part of the MSA team.

Every one of the hiking team carries a custom-made tag with the MSA emblem poppy (image below) on the one side and on the other a photograph of me.  This tag has been laminated for durability and will be displayed in a prominent position on the back of each one's backpack.  

As you can see we have AN AWESOME TEAM FOR AN AWESOME TASK, and we hope to add many miles to the MSA awareness project; A MILE AND A CANDLE FOR MSA

In the past week, going on the little snippets of news on facebook, Emilene and Eddie have made their way over the Pyrenees successfully, Emilene has dealt with blisters (I pray successfully), and they are spreading the MSA message as they continue on their journey to Santiago.

On Sunday the 17th Susan, Gerda and Esther will start their journey.  If they will ever meet up with the other two remains to be seen, but my prayers are with all of you everyday.  Thank you my friends for doing this for MSA.



  1. Sonja, thank you for your kind words. You make it so easy for me to be your friend :) ... ps We are happy to report that the other 3 Camino Walkers arrived safely and have started walking. The difficulties regarding communication makes it a bit frustrating for us - but we are so happy every time we get little snippets from them. PPS - a reminder of our facebook page.

    1. I am truly blessed with very special friends! Click below the red candle logo on the right to get to our MSA facebook page. xx


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