West Cork pilgrim begins her journey ‘From here to Jerusalem’

The indomitable pilgrim Anja Bakker is off again on foot on April 2: This time on a prodigious journey that, if successful, will take her all the way from West Cork to Jerusalem, travelling anywhere between 6000-8000 km on foot over the next year, all the while carrying her harp (named Séan) on her back.

This is a spiritual journey for Anja, a person who dares to dream and seek a learning experience that she hopes will bring her a sense of freedom and the ability to let go. “I want to flow over the roads where all those people have gone before me,” she says passionately. “There is wisdom and understanding there that we don’t see in the fast pace of everyday life when we’re so caught up with material things; and I really have a desire to live that experience.”

Anja first began walking with her harp in 2010 on a pilgrimage from her home in Clonakilty to Santiago de Compostela (2500 km). She followed that up with a pilgrimage from West Cork to Rome (3500 km) in 2018.

Four years on and this courageous spirit is ready to attempt her biggest and most arduous journey yet. This time, with so many more countries to cross, some war torn, and extreme weather conditions to contend with, Anja is hoping for help in facing the challenges ahead. Rather than simply trusting in just the willingness of those she meets along the road to support her, she aims to raise €20,000, which will give her some security over the 365 days.

On this pilgrimage, Anja will be taking it one day at a time, depending on her physical condition and the challenges she meets along the way.

“I’m getting older, 53 this year, so I’m not so sure I’m able this time for walking till I almost drop and sleeping in ditches and waking up in the morning unable to walk for half an hour,” explains Anja.

“I cannot even start to think about the strain my body is going to go through, given Séan’s weight and then the rest of my pack, which will weigh around 20 kg.

“I will need help. Help that will range from making sure the harp is protected adequately to looking after my feet and body, finding places to rest and recover (something I didn’t do on the other journeys) to making sure I have enough time to connect and play for those we meet along the way.”

If you’re interested in supporting Anja on her pilgrimage please go to gofund.me and Anja Bakker’s page ‘From Here to Jerusalem’

You can follow her journey through her video diaries on theflautingharper.com.

Anya in Rome.

Mary O'Brien

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