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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid