For the last week of my Empathy Challenge, I walked 35 miles across the week carrying a 10kg rucksack as a way of representing walking to collect my water for the day.
I’ve written about the past week below, but first I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has sponsored me in this. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to fundraise particularly much from it, and thought of it more as an opportunity to embrace some of what I will experience living out in Ghana, and what people in developing nations experienced everyday. I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received, and feel personally encouraged that I have such generous friends and family, as well as being happy to be able to support the work of ICS. I am so close to reaching my fundraising target, and this is before even my 50% fundraising deadline!! If you’d like to help me take that final step and smash my target, then my fundraising page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RoseannaLeach
It was difficult to decide a distance for my walk and a weight to put on my back, because there really isn’t an ‘average’ number of miles that people in developing nations, or Ghana specifically, would have to walk in order to collect their water – it is entirely dependent on where people live in relation to a water source. As I’m working full time during the week and the clocks changed recently, I was quite restricted by the amount of walking I’d be able to get done in the light, so thirty five miles over the week (aiming to average 5 miles a day) felt like an achievable, but still challenging, goal.
One site I found said that a person would need nearly 20 litres of water a day for cooking, cleaning,washing etc. Washing clothes and other domestic chores would likely be done at the water source and so the water for this may not be carried home. Considering this, (plus the fact that I’m quite small so would possibly collapse walking with 20kg) I chose to carry 10kg in my rucksack.
Most of my walking was done in the mornings before I started work at 8:30. Although this did mean rising early, I really loved starting my day with fresh air, exercise, head space, quiet prayer time and some really incredible sights (photos in this post were my daily trek views).
Although I have enjoyed my walks, it has been tiring doing it everyday and my shoulders and back are sore and aching from the weight of the ‘water’. I live in a society where clean water comes flowing freely from the taps and I usually don’t give a second thought to its importance.
The water crisis is such a big issue that can be so easily resolved. The UN states that, globally, 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation; but, gaining a safe source of drinking water, which is close to a person’s home, can be life saving and transformative to a community. So many avoidable diseases take people’s lives just because safe drinking water isn’t available. Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease (source).
A lack of water also leads to a lack of equality. Typically, the physical and time burden of water hauling falls primarily on women and girls in developing nations, who make up 72% of those tasked with fetching water (source), limiting their access to education or business opportunities. A lack of education leads to an inescapable cycle of poverty and inequality for individuals and communities, stunting the long term prospects of developing nations. Research has shown that for every 10% increase in women’s literacy, a country’s whole economy can grow by up to 0.3%.
If you want to know more about the water crisis, and how you can help, LOOK IT UP! Educating yourself is the first powerful step you can take in making a difference! As my tshirt (above) says: “Challenge yourself to change your world”.
It’s been an enlightening, stretching and in some ways exciting few weeks doing my empathy challenge. Each week has presented it’s own difficulties, but I think that the most challenging week was living below the line. I love food (and have discovered that my sweet tooth is stronger than I realised) and so living without the comfort of tasty grub and the energy which it provides would probably be the biggest struggle for me. It’s a bit scary to think that my original plan was to do all three of my challenges within the same week. Thinking back to the lack of energy I felt during my week of £1/day food, placing that on top of the walking whilst also having to sleep rough at the end of each day, probably would have left me totally wiped out. But THAT is the reality for so many people.
Thank you for reading folks, I hope you’ve found my last couple posts interesting and challenging. Peace out.