Cork clergyman begins sponsored pilgrimage to raise funds for female farmers in Burundi

4 May 2021
By Tom Collins

A Carrigaline clergyman has set off on a 100 km sponsored pilgrimage to raise funds to improve the lives of people living in poverty in an east African country he visited in 2019.

Rev Tony Murphy will visit all 22 Church of Ireland parishes in the Cork diocese during the month of May, before walking at least 5 kms in each area while collecting sponsorship for Christian Aid’s farming projects in Burundi. The pilgrimage coincides with Christian Aid Week which runs from 10-16 May.

He will be joined on his socially distanced walks by the local rector, parishioners and other supporters at each location. He was waved off on his month-long pilgrimage by Bishop of Cork, The Rt Rev Dr Paul Colton at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork city. Bishop Paul said:

“In the midst of our own challenging times, it is all too easy to lose sight of the commitments we have to others beyond our own shores. In Cork, Cloyne and Ross, people of all ages have embraced and supported our maize project in Burundi from its outset in 2017.

“We are now in the second phase and through the visits of Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboha to us in 2017 and Rev Tony Murphy’s return visit in 2019, we all feel we know well what is needed from this important partnership. I congratulate Tony on this initiative to raise funds for the project and, equally important, awareness of it. I hope everyone will do their best to support him generously.”

The Anglican diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross has raised more than €70,000 since 2017 when it began supporting Christian Aid’s work in Burundi, a country affected by poverty, hunger and conflict.

The diocese has committed to provide ongoing support in 2021 and 2022 to three farming cooperatives established by Christian Aid’s local partner, the Anglican Church of Burundi in the south of the country. Funding levels have declined due to the coronavirus pandemic and Rev Murphy hopes that this diocese-wide initiative will help to achieve the yearly target for 2021.

In October 2019, Rev Murphy travelled with Christian Aid to see for himself how the support of his diocese is enabling farmers in Burundi to move from subsistence farming, where they grow food to survive, to a business model where they grow food for sale, in order to thrive.

Local farmers, most of whom are women, receive training in good farming techniques and are given access to a harvest storage facility as well as a small maize processing plant. One member of the cooperative, Esperance Kigongwe (44), a maize farmer and mother of eight children, explained the difference the cooperative had made:

“Because of the cooperative, my harvest has increased. Before we had a storage room, our harvest would spoil. Now I get high quality maize flour from the processing plant. With the extra money, I have bought goats and also land for myself. I can pay for school materials for my children.”

Speaking as he set out on his 100 km walk, Rev Tony Murphy recalled his visit to Burundi:

“The commitment of the diocese to help establish three cooperatives and bring them to a level where they are self-sustaining was hugely appreciated by the people in Burundi, a people with spirit and resilience who are working hard to move from subsistence living.”

You can sponsor Rev Murphy by visiting his Justgiving page at or you can post a cheque to Rev Tony Murphy, 9 Riverside, Carrigaline, County Cork, P43 FP11 marked ‘Burundi’ on the reverse.

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