The Long Well Walk's Liam Garcia talks to Exposed about the charity's trek from Sheffield to Cape Town
Liam Garcia is quite a unique individual. At just age 27, he has established The Long Well Walk; a Sheffield based charity that seeks to eliminate water poverty in less economically developed countries. The organisation is going from strength to strength, recruiting a host of ambitious volunteers whose dedication is aiding the charity’s progress at an astonishing rate.
Exposed managed to grab a chat with Liam, fresh from an expedition in Kenya, to get the ins and outs of this organisation, and to clarify the daunting main fundraising event: a trek beginning in Sheffield and ending in Cape Town whilst setting up clean water projects along the way.
Hiya Liam, you’ve just got back from Kenya, what projects were you involved with over there?
It was very tiring, but amazing seeing the effects some of the projects are creating out there. I went to Kenya and travelled to slums in Kampala, Uganda, where I visited schools and projects that are helping to provide clean water in these areas. The schools are severely overcrowded, some having around two hundred students in two rooms that are only capable of holding about thirty children each.
It must be quite inspiring seeing similar organisations having a positive effect in these communities, how did the concept for The Long Well Walk come about?
About two years ago, I was travelling around Ireland and stayed with a Czech family in Dingle. It was a cooperative house, and one of the husbands of a women staying there was completing a walk from Copenhagen to Amsterdam to raise money for cerebral palsy. I ended up taking over his PR, and after this experience I decided to create my own fundraiser. It’s amazing how much we have grown, I mean you need £5,000 to register as a charity, and that was a great highlight for us, getting our register certificate.
What’s really interesting about your charity is that it discusses how something as simple as having access to clean water, can help change the social structure of a community for the better.
Water is the most basic need for any human, just being able to have access to clean water immediately … it affects the way in which a community works. At the moment, in some of these countries, children aren’t going to school, they’re spending their days walking 4 ½ – 5 hours to collect water. By creating these projects, it allows children to stay in school and also helps gender equality, as women are able to have management roles.
When you raise these other issues that are positively altered through the installation of clean water projects, it seems so obvious that such a simple thing as water can have such a great impact upon a community.
I always compare it to a blind person suddenly gaining sight, it’s so simple once people are aware, how much change such a simple thing as access to clean water can achieve.
The main event that the charity is fundraising for is the trek that you are embarking on that starts in Sheffield and sees you reaching Cape Town by foot. How long do you think it will take you to complete this?
It’s going to be about a 15-18 month trek, 20 miles a day, six days on, one day off. [I] Need to get back into exercising to prepare!
And you’re hoping to install clean water supplies for ten countries throughout the course of your expedition?
Yes, hoping to help set up projects in ten African countries, but if we raise more money hopefully we could help out around sixteen.
It sounds like a great physical and mental challenge, will you be training anywhere local to prepare?
I like to go to the Peaks for practice, as well as running and Tai Chi. It’ll work out at around 24hrs a week of exercise.
Have you had a lot of support from local organisations?
Yes, both universities have been great. Also, we have had a lot of support from CADS, Gripple, Access Space and loads more.
The Long Well Walk is in need of volunteers who are in the know about web and graphic design or film making, so if you have any of these talents and want to gain experience in the charity sector, visit their volunteers page.
You can keep up to date with the latest from The Long Well Walk by following them on Twitter or Facebook, and check out their website for more information about the charity and info about how to make a donation.