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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid