A big feat for little feet

Seventy KM in Seven Days with a Toddler

This month, Pieta Karoniemi (above) celebrates THREE years of working on the programmes team at Temwa based at the UK office. To mark this occasion, she has decided to embark on an incredible THREE generational adventure. Thank you Pieta for the amazing work you do to empower communities in Malawi to transform their futures.

Read her article below. 

Longing for adventure

I’ve been longing for an adventure, not least because my partner and his dad are about to do a 154km hike together. So naturally, I then spontaneously asked my mum if she’d be up for a three-generation walk, bringing along my two-year-old daughter. She jumped at the opportunity (to be honest, probably not thinking through the full implications of this). And so the idea was born for a toddler, a mum and a grandma (‘mummo’ as we call her) to walk 70km on the southwest coast path from St Ives to Penzance in Cornwall, UK.

I’ve cycle-toured over the Alps and across remote Scottish isles, climbed up some big hills and small mountains, skied in the Arctic cold, and trekked in the heat of Africa and the familiar drizzle of the UK. I’ve walked this exact route before too (wearing a pair of hiking boots that were too small), so why all the fuss about this adventure?

Challenge 1

Like anyone with a small child would know, as much as my toddler loves walking, she has her own version of the right direction. Bring on 70km of gentle encouragement towards the desired route.

Challenge 2

As the toddler will need carrying in a toddler backpack for much of the journey (and hopefully not resist it too badly), we can only take one other rucksack between the three of us for all of our stuff – including copious amounts of necessary toddler kit and endless snacks for everyone.

Challenge 3

Although mummo loves walking too, she’s never done a multi-day hike, never carried a big bag over a long distance, and isn’t used to very hilly terrain. She says she’s doing some training by foraging in the Finnish woods all summer, carrying heavy buckets of blueberries.

In her shoes.

While this will (hopefully) be a fun adventure for us, we are choosing it. However, women and girls in many parts of the world walk long distances every day because they have to.mum carrying baby on walk

One of these places is Nkhata Bay North, a remote district in northern Malawi, where many villages are only accessible by foot. Here women and girls are typically responsible for many household chores, such as walking to collect firewood and to fetch water. From the most isolated villages, the trek to the closest health clinic can be up to 9 hours – a journey made much harder if you are very ill, pregnant or escorting a sick child.

Our walk of 70km, which we’ll do over a week or so (let’s see what the toddler dictates), is also the same distance as the daily return trip for some girls to get to the closest secondary school.child's feet walk

Obviously these girls can’t manage this distance every day and end up skipping school days. The walk can also be socially risky for girls.  Eventually, many have to drop out of school altogether.

With our walk, we want to raise funds to enable some of these secondary-school-aged girls to not have to travel everyday.

The Usisya Girls Hostel

Recently, Temwa (a most lovely charity that I feel very lucky to work for) finished constructing a girls’ hostel at one of the five local secondary schools in Nkhata Bay North, in partnership with the local community. This will reduce the distances that girls have to walk. It also includes sanitation facilities that all the girls at the school can benefit from. The building and painting are complete, but the hostel still needs furnishing so I am raising money for beds to make it a safe home away from home for the girls staying there.

You can help Pieta make a difference

You can read more on how the money will help and give directly to her fundraising page here, or journey with us and take on a challenge or become a regular giver to help us expand this project. £3 a month can help change a girl’s life.

*Toddler disclaimer*

“Women in Malawi commonly carry their babies and toddlers in cloth wraps on their backs while going on about all their daily activities. I want to believe that the same is doable on a multi-day hike. However, in case of torrential rain and gale-force winds, my two-year-old may not be happy to walk the full 70km, although she is a pretty resilient, adventurous little thing. We have a contingency plan to allow her to skip some sections of the walk if the weather will be unbearable for her.”

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