‘Give Happy, Live Happy’ – Oxfam Trailwalker Volunteers

Photo: Martin Wurt/OxfamAU

The theme for National Volunteer Week in 2015 is ‘Give Happy, Live Happy’ – and no one knows this better than Oxfam Trailwalker volunteers.

Oxfam Trailwalker is Australia’s toughest team endurance challenge – and one of its most inspiring. Each year more than 3,000 teams of four ordinary Australians take on the extraordinary walking or running a 100km across rugged bushland in less than 48 hours.

It’s a huge challenge, and one that helps Oxfam raise over $6 million each year to make a difference to the lives of people living in poverty around the world.

None of it could happen without the support of more than 2,800 volunteers, who generously offer up their time (and sleep!) to support walkers in their epic journey towards the 100km finish line.

In fact, each year our volunteers give over 18,000 hours to Oxfam Trailwalker — the equivalent to more than $600,000 in donated wages.

our volunteers give over 18,000 hours to Oxfam Trailwalker. The equivalent to more than $600,000 in donated wages.

But it’s not just their time that volunteers give that makes them so special — it’s their spirit.

One walker from the recent Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne event said the volunteers lifted their spirits on the trail: “What a highlight the volunteers were – so positive, lovely and encouraging. We were so grateful for the small words and things you did to just make us push on. Oxfam should be so proud and honoured to have such a good team of volunteers at their event!”

Another walker said: “The volunteers made a huge difference in keeping our spirits up and making it fun along the way … we appreciated every bit of encouragement and every friendly smile”.

We certainly are proud of our volunteers who help with every aspect of the event – from marking the trail, checking walkers into checkpoints and making sure they’re well looked after, helping with deliveries and cheering walkers along the trail. Allied health professionals and students also provide much appreciated podiatry, physiotherapy and massage therapy to tired muscles and feet.

It’s not always glamorous work. There’s early starts, overnight shifts and cold nights in the bush. But Oxfam Trailwalker volunteers know that giving their time, enthusiasm and energy is worth it.

Here they are in their own words:

  • “[The best part was] the positive attitudes of all the participants and volunteers. No matter the time of day, everyone continued to be positive and were excited to help out in any way they could, which led to great teamwork and camaraderie. Even if it was just one individual walker, seeing them smile and re-motivated after giving some encouragement is a great feeling.”– Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2015 volunteer. 
  • “The best part about volunteering for Oxfam Trailwalker are the participants. It is so inspiring to see such a large group of kind-hearted, community-minded individuals who together with great spirit, have the courage to attempt the challenge, which undoubtedly tests all with much physical and mental hardship, for the belief in a sustaining, empowering, and poverty-free world.” — Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2015 volunteer. 
  • “It was such a happy day. The friendly participants and volunteers made it such an enjoyable experience. It was so inspiring and humbling. I was amazed at the strength, spirit, courage and determination of the walkers – many who were clearly suffering pain, injury and fatigue at the 90km checkpoint yet still wouldn’t give up and pushed on with a smile.” — Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2015 volunteer. 
  • “I really did love the experience. Being out there with the walkers and seeing them make the journey through their final leg of the walk despite how late and dark it was getting was so amazing! And so many of them would thank me! While I was just standing there, I felt like I should have been thanking them all for their efforts!”– Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2015 volunteer. 
  • “The walkers gave me tears in my eyes over and over again. I was so proud of them! The most amazing thing is that they thank you all the time and tell us that we do an amazing job. It’s wonderful, but they are the ones that are amazing by walking 100km and still have the energy to compliment us!” — Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 2015 volunteer.

Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne took place on 10–12 April and has already raised $2.3 million for Oxfam’s vital work.

This National Volunteer Week Oxfam Australia would like to thank all the volunteers who help us make Oxfam Trailwalker happen. With your help, we can all make a real difference to the lives of people living in poverty.