White Rock grandmothers complete a virtual tour of the globe

Maggie Davies, a member of Oneness Gogos, ‘welcomed’ the group to St. John’s, Newfoundland on their Canadian tour. (Contributed photo)Maggie Davies, a member of Oneness Gogos, ‘welcomed’ the group to St. John’s, Newfoundland on their Canadian tour. (Contributed photo)
Pictured is Thelma Newbury of the Oneness Gogos in Spain, prior to the pandemic, another country the group ‘visited’ during their tour. (Contributed photo)Pictured is Thelma Newbury of the Oneness Gogos in Spain, prior to the pandemic, another country the group ‘visited’ during their tour. (Contributed photo)
Liverpool, Eng. was one of the cities Oneness Gogos of White Rock hit on their global tour. (Thelma Newbury contributed photo)Liverpool, Eng. was one of the cities Oneness Gogos of White Rock hit on their global tour. (Thelma Newbury contributed photo)

What began as a fun fitness adventure became a cultural tour around the globe.

This month, Semiahmoo Peninsula grandmothers completed a virtual walking-tour spanning the circumference of the Earth.

The women belong to Oneness Gogos, a nonprofit organization made up of 35 Semiahmoo Peninsula grandmothers and “grand-others” raising funds to support grandmothers in 15 sub-Saharan African countries through the ‘Grandmothers to Grandmothers’ campaign.

The Africa-support project began in 2006 in response to the HIV-AIDS crisis that left countless children orphaned across the continent. This left the children’s grandmothers to become the primary caretakers, Oneness Gogos’ Thelma Newbury told Peace Arch News.

Grandmothers to Grandmothers has provided the families with sewing machines to make school uniforms, goats to milk for drinking and selling, gardens where they can grow, eat and sell produce, and more.

“Gogos,” Newbury explained, means grandmother in several African languages and the ‘oneness’ is to reflect that the Canadian grandmothers and African grandmothers are “one.”

So far this year, Oneness Gogos has raised $7,000, reflected in the total $301,397 they have raised since the group’s inception.

At the onset of the pandemic, the Gogos wanted to start a collaborative project that would encourage members to get moving, which began the virtual walking tour around the globe.

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The virtual tour first began on March 8, 2021 around the Semiahmoo Peninsula. Members began walking in-line with social distancing measures around White Rock and soon wanted to go further.

“This is good for our health and it’s a fun thing to do so let’s keep it going, so then we decided we would walk across Canada,” Newbury said.

At times, not all members were able to walk as much, being held up in other duties, so they made up a conversion rate. An hour of housework would equal a certain number of miles walked, and so, many members completed their tour of Canada through other means.

By July 2021, the Oneness Gogos completed a walk of the Trans-Canada Highway – a distance of 7,131.91 km and by August, they completed a walk across the Trans-Canada Trail – a distance of 10,831.43 km.

Brainstorming about where to head next on their tour landed the Oneness Gogos on a journey to Liverpool, England, where the group headed to ‘visit’ one of their walkers staying in the English city. They arrived in Liverpool on Sept. 12, 2021, completing 11,366.78 km.

After that, the Gogos were unstoppable. They decided to extend their Britain trip to tour most of Europe, completing 18,553.81 km by Feb. 10 after exploring Wales, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, St. Petersburg and other parts of Russia.

They then headed for Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain Portugal and back through Spain, bringing their to 25,976.72 km by June 30, 2022.

Their next and final goal was to circumnavigate the globe, by traveling a total distance of 26,570.269 km.

“On July 2, 2022, we completed that goal,” Newbury said.

“It’s all a lot of nonsense, really, but it grew out of the need to have something to talk about and share with each other.”

To learn more about Oneness Gogos or to donate, contact the group at onenessgogos@gmail.com

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