News / USA

    US Woman Treks Across Africa for Clean Water

    Amy Russell hopes her 12,000-kilometer walk will raise money and awareness

    In January, Russell will embark on a 12,000-kilometer, two-year trek across Africa in an effort to raise money to help provide clean drinking water for people in underdeveloped countries.
    In January, Russell will embark on a 12,000-kilometer, two-year trek across Africa in an effort to raise money to help provide clean drinking water for people in underdeveloped countries.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Faiza Elmasry

    Every day, in rural areas across Africa, millions of women and girls walk for hours to fetch water. An American woman is also walking for the same reason.

    Amy Russell hopes her 12,000-kilometer, two-year long trek across Africa will raise money for and awareness of the need for clean water.

    So far she's walked across the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut and plans to tread across 800 kilometers in California.

    Russell is getting in shape for an even longer walk - her African trek.

    Walking for water

    “We’ll be going through seven different countries," says Russell. "South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.”

    Amy Russell
    Amy Russell

    Three years ago, while still in college, the 22-year-old founded the non-profit, Walk4Water. Russell says she realized that in order to tackle the big social causes of the day such as poverty, she'd have to get to the root of the issue.

    "When I studied poverty a little more, I realized that clean water is just at the base and the root of all that," she says. "You can’t really have the rest of the development process of sanitation, education, all those types of things without having the basic necessity of clean water.”

    That’s how the idea of walking across Africa was born. Russell plans to start in January, accompanied by volunteers from the U.S. and the African countries she’s walking through. The team hopes to walk for about eight hours a day to raise $8 million  for wells, filtration systems and other water-related projects in underdeveloped countries.

    There'll be other activities along the way as well.

    “Some of the places we’re stopping at include orphanages, organizations that concentrate on sanitation, AIDS," Russell says. "We’re also going to have a nurse with us. So, we’re trying to set up some medical clinics as we go.”

    Expanding access to drinking water

    Steve Werner is spokesman for WASH Advocacy Initiative- another group working to expand access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

    “I think Amy and other people like her are heroes because they not only have seen the problem, they are taking action,” Werner says.

    He hopes that will compell others into action as well.

    "The more people who know that this is a problem, they will demand that this become a more important issue in our foreign aid priorities, for companies when they are making decisions about their international philanthropy, other significant donors will learn more about the issue when they read stories about what Amy’s doing.”

    Achievable goal

    Each year, dozens of people join the Healing Hands International Walk for Water in Nashville, Tennessee, to raise money and awareness about the need for clean water.
    Each year, dozens of people join the Healing Hands International Walk for Water in Nashville, Tennessee, to raise money and awareness about the need for clean water.

    Elisa Van Dyke  is also impressed by Amy's mission. It's something Van Dyke is very familiar with. She's helped organize annual water walks for Healing Hands International in Nashville, Tennessee, for the past five years.

    Those walks, and others around the country, raise money to fund the group’s clean water projects.

    “We have drilled close to 500 clean water wells throughout Africa and a few in Central America," she says. "So when we are able to put a well in a community that’s just right outside their homes or right there in the middle of their village, girls don’t have to spend a lot of their day collecting water. It can become a brief morning task or an afternoon task and then they can go on to school.”

    Providing universal access to clean water is an achievable goal. The first step, Van Dyke says, is raising awareness about it, and that’s why Russell’s upcoming walk across Africa is important.

    “I think what Amy is doing is huge because with the Internet, and with the communication that we have now, with her blogging, with things like Facebook and You Tube, we can show people firsthand what people experience in daily life," Van Dyke says. "And so the more people that are exposed, the more people that are educated about the problem, then the more people will want to get involved.”

    Werner, of WASH Advocacy Initiative, hopes Russell’s walk motivates officials in developing countries to take action to help their people.

    “This isn’t an issue where solutions have to come from developed countries, it’s also a problem in the developing countries that their governments don’t make water a higher priority," says Werner. "So as Amy's walking across Africa, I hope government leaders also realize that there is a big water problem in their countries and that their government should be making this a higher priority.”

    You can follow Amy Russell’s walk - when it starts in January in Capetown, South Africa - by visiting her website, www.walking4water.org.


    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora