An iconic view of Luxembourg at 5.30 in the morning
The inaugural Darkness Into Light Luxembourg attracted a sell-out crowd in the early hours of Saturday morning.
There was a sense of community even before arriving at the Altrimenti centre at 4.30 a.m. on a rain-soaked Saturday morning. Scores of people walking through the city park and along avenue Marie-Thérèse were only out at that time in the morning, and in those weather conditions, with one purpose--to take part in the first Darkness into Light walk in Luxembourg.
As Irish ambassador to Luxembourg Peadar Carpenter later said, for many participants it was probably reminiscent of walking to church for early mass. Families and friends and even pet dogs gathered at the centre to collect their bright yellow “Darkness Into Light” t-shirts, do a quick pre-walk warm up and partake of a welcome cup of tea or coffee or fuel up with a banana or slice of cake.
The room was filled with chatter and anticipation, but also with a genuine feeling of warmth and tenderness as many of those walking have been personally affected by suicide or mental health issues. In a truly moving gesture, Darkness Into Light Luxembourg committee member Lynda Jacob had to support fellow organiser Emma Farrell as she addressed the walkers on the meaning and purpose of the global event. Together with fellow Irish woman Caoimhe Alliot-Stenson, Farrell and Jacob were the initiators of the Luxembourg event.
The walk serves as a fund-raiser for Ireland’s Pieta House suicide prevention and counselling services and in Luxembourg also contributed to the Service Information et Prevention of the Ligue. But it also helps raise awareness of suicide and mental health and self-harm.
420 walkers and 82 volunteers
The inaugural Luxembourg event was a sell-out days before the walk. 509 participants registered, and despite the inclement weather a total of 420 walkers and 82 volunteers braved the rain on Saturday. The volunteers helped with decorating the venue, putting up signs, acting as stewards on the route, baking, serving tea and coffee, and filming and photographing the event. “We had a truly amazing group of friends, family and people who just wanted to help out help us get to where we were,” said Farrell.
The walk allowed many to share their experiences and tell stories en route. It attracted astonished looks from early morning motorists who had to stop for the crocodile of yellow-clad walkers, and chants of “respect, respect” from a group of young clubbers who were heading home from a night out.
“The first edition of Darkness into Light in Luxembourg has started a much-needed conversation about mental illness, suicide and self-harm,” Farrell explained. “We walked for those we have lost, those who are struggling, those who need an encouraging word, a helping hand. We walked as a community, as friends all determined to reach a common goal, a world where suicide, self-harm and stigma have been replaced by hope, self-care and acceptance. We walked with the power of hope in the rain and it was wonderful!”
Luxembourg’s first walk was one of several that took place around the world. From Dublin (the venue of the first walk in 2009) to Hong Kong, Vancouver and Abu Dhabi close to 200,000 people took part in the walks.
Darkness Into Light CEO, Elaine Austin shared a video message with walkers on Saturday afternoon. View the video here.