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It takes about 20 millions steps to walk around the world, several years commitment as well as determination, stamina, and a state of mind that few of us can imagine. But people of different cultures have been wandering thousands of miles for centuries; making pilgrimages to far away destinations, in order to show dedication to their religion. People walk around the world.

In a postmodern society however, science has outplayed religion, making it feel a somewhat lesser place in most modern people’s lives than ever before. Yet despite, or even because of that, the urges of exploration and need for self realization seem to have increased. The man who walked around the world.

People are looking for answers. For a greater purpose. For something to fight for. Something to believe in. Walking around the world to raise money.

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Water is the most crucial condition for life of all kinds. All living organisms need it in order to survive, though there are more than 780 million people worldwide without access to clean drinking water. 345 million of them live in Africa alone. Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water related sickness.

Instead of turning a blind eye, Charlie Christensen decided it was time to do something about it. On May 18 2015 he freed himself of his job, his apartment, and most of his possessions to begin Walking for Water; a philanthropic pilgrimage, on foot, from Denmark to Tanzania.

This means walking for 18,000 kilometers, through 28 countries, over 2.5 years. It is a journey to inspire the beginning of a movement meant to combine the trends of explorations and self realizing journeys with the noble cause of supplying the world with clean drinking water, wherever needed.

Almost one year in, he will cross the straight to Africa on the 18th of May 2016 to continue his journey. Has anyone walked around the world?

What do you love the most about travelling?

My greatest interest in traveling is the exploration of foreign cultures. I have a personal interest in ancient traditions and religions and I think that cultural exchanges are important in order to live peacefully together and share the resources we have across borders. I walked around the world a hundred times. 

All cultures I have met so far, no matter what little they have, puts a pride in sharing their culture and resources with foreigners on a personal basis – lets see if we can optimize this pride of sharing to a higher level, for the 1% that possesses the majority of the worlds resources while others are starving, in particular. People who walked around the world to raise money for charity.

What inspired you to start travelling?

My first long-term travel was a 6 months mission in Afghanistan with the Danish army. Daily walking patrols in the Green zone of the Helmand province brought me out in the nature and into the homes of people of a completely different culture than my own. Campaigns for clean drinking water in Africa.

The sensation of the many new impressions and the feeling of being useful in the protection of life and wellbeing made a deep impact on me and I do not think that I would be doing what I am doing now if it was not for those 6 months back in 2008-2009. Which parts of Africa need clean drinking water?

You’re undertaking a 2.5 year walk from Denmark to Tanzania – what inspired this journey?

I was living in a remote Tanzanian village a few years back. When the water supply-system in the area broke down I saw how the locals had to spend the entire day, walking to the nearest source of clean water 19 kilometres away and the same distance back again, to bring home supplies of clean water.

I saw a place in dire need for help and I started thinking of ways to raise money for solving the problem. It was first about half a year after I had returned home to Denmark that I came up with the somewhat obvious idea of Walking for Water. Which countries in Africa do not have clean drinking water?

It is a symbolism where I walk so they don’t have to, and on the same time a possibility to do exactly what I have always dreamt of doing – becoming a fulltime traveller! What do people do who don’t have access to clean water?

What are you hoping this journey will achieve?

The most important thing is clean water for the people of Lengasti. Optimally I hope that I will reach my goal just in time for the finished installation of a full functioning innovative sustainable pioneer system.

I hope that the success of the project will make the way for future projects under the Walking for Water organisation and I hope to inspire a lot of people on I meet on my way, and to make them realize that happiness in life can be obtained through a mixture of passion and compassion with a minimum of personal material possessions. Walking around the world record.

Your route sees you walk through a number of West African nations – is there any significance in your route/the countries you will see?

I planned to walk around the West African coast rather than the east African which would have been faster, because I thought the West African way would be both less risky and more interesting, as it takes me through so many small countries, all with their own individual cultures.

What kind of planning goes into a walk of this proportion?

When I decided that I wanted to go walking I contacted the Adventurers Club of Denmark to ask if someone with experience in walking Africa would help me plan the route. Luckily a man named Ulrik Ruge, applied to help me.

I also got in contact with a Swedish guy, Mats Andren, who is walking from Stockholm to Sydney during his project, the-walk.se. I spent summer hiking with Mats in Texas, picking up some of his routines. Unsafe water facts.

Otherwise, it’s countless hours writing emails to potential sponsors, creating the organisation, find volunteers to help me create the website and promotion material etc. etc. etc. I realized very quickly you have to be ready to work hard if you want to achieve your dreams, but if it is truly a dream, the preparation itself is quite fun. Walking around the world national Geographic.

What is the greatest length you have walked in one day?

During my preparations I made a trip in Denmark walking for 4 days with an average of 55 km per day. The day I walked the most must have been more than 60 km. I did this to pressure myself and find my physical limits.

On the actual journey I think the maximum is about 50. But I don’t pressure myself to much like that. When you are walking continuously it is important to take the time for restitution of the body and to get some sleep at night. Often the real limit is not really the distance, but the hours.

One of the things I like about travelling on foot during a project like this is that everybody can relate to it. All ages, classes and nationalities have a perception of walking.

The man who is walking around the world to raise money for clean drinking water.

The man who is walking around the world to raise money for clean drinking water.

How is travelling on foot a different experience to more traditional forms of travel?

Is there a more traditional form of travelling? Unsafe water facts.

One of the things I like about travelling on foot during a project like this is that everybody can relate to it. All ages, classes and nationalities have a perception of walking. How many children in Africa die from unclean drinking water?

Also I like the fact that things move by slowly enough for you to notice all the details and for the surroundings to have an opportunity to stop you and ask about the project. You can travel however far, but if you do it to fast, you wont see anything and it will just be transportation, not really adventure.

You can travel however far, but if you do it to fast, you wont see anything and it will just be transportation, not really adventure.

Are you ever delayed due to weather or do you walk on regardless?

I walk regardless of the weather. I have planned my trip to avoid to much bad weather by leaving Denmark in the spring, with the northern European winter behind me. Countries without clean water. Lack of clean water in Africa.

Sometimes it rains, but I don’t mind walking in the rain, as long as it will be dry when I go to sleep. Global water crisis. Water crisis in Africa.

What are your essential travel items?

MY BOOTS! It is by far the most important thing while walking. I am now at the end of my second pair of boots from the German brand LOWA, and for more than 3500 km of walking I haven’t had a single blister yet!

Another important thing is a good tent, compact travel hammock or whatever you prefer. Personally I have both, so I have something to choose between. The thing is that when you are struggling all day it is important to have something nice to look forward to when you reach your daily destination, in order to keep morale high. Water crisis facts. Unsafe drinking water in Africa.

And then water off course. Don’t run out of it.

What is a general estimate of your daily budget for a trip like this?

It’s hard to say. Some countries are more expensive than others and even though I meet a lot of generous people who offer food and shelter, I don’t like to always just be taking without giving.

I do go out to eat and drink now and then, though my daily budget is usually around the 5-7 Euro mark. I could live cheaper if I had to.

What are the consequences no access to clean water?

If you had to walk 38 km every third day to supply your family with the basic water – still economizing with the usage – you can imagine all the things you haven’t time doing in stead. Attending to school and work etc.

The worst consequences are the ones faced by the widows and other women who cannot take the whole day of walking for water. They simply get their water from mud-pits polluted with all kinds of germs and bacteria with fatal consequences for themselves and their children.

How are you sourcing clean drinking water for yourself during this trip?

In Europe I have mainly been drinking water from the tap and from fountains. In Africa I will use bottled water and I should probably get myself a personal water filter for a backup solution as well. Unclean water facts.

Do you think the distribution of the earth’s resources is fair?

Fair? No. I don’t think it is fair that some are born into a life without basic needs. On the other hand I don’t really believe that anyone is obliged to take care of others, but I do think the world would be a better place if we all decided to raise the low barrier of living standards on a global basis, both for those receiving, and the ones who would need to give. Clean drinking water for Tanzania.

There are more than 780 million people worldwide without access to clean drinking water. 345 million of them live in Africa alone.

What can the average traveller/person do about this?

EVERYBODY can do something. It is a very important point. I think that most people would like to make an impact to change the world for the better, it just seems like to much of a challenge and it can be hard to see the real difference in your personal contribution when the need is so huge. But there are many ways to benefit. I usually tell people that I rather want their hours than their money. How can I do something about clean drinking water in Africa?

I think that poverty in the world can and should be solved by the huge billionaire companies who own more than plenty enough to change the world for the better without lowering their own living standards.

What I want from ordinary people is to reach these companies and make it attractive to them to take a corporate social responsibility.

This can be done in many ways. Directly and easily by sharing the message of good projects, by using your network and volunteering in contacting potential sponsors and media partners – and more indirectly by buying your goods from companies with a compassionate and sustainable CSR strategy, to make it rentable for companies to include charitable projects in their businesses and to make it rentable to take a social and environmental responsibility.

Why should people walk for water and do this themselves?

If people have the passion for long distance travel and are looking for a unique adventure, Walking for Water is an organisation that can help achieve a greater purpose by combining your passion with charity.

Walking for Water is intended to become an umbrella organization for charitable projects with one common characteristic: walking tours that try to provide water for the ones who are lacking it around the globe.

It will definitely be easier to start your project using this platform, but you should not expect that everything will be done for you. The traveller will still have to manage the journey himself, but using the Walking for Water brand and workgroups will make it easier to get followers, help and contacts.

You have to show the biggest dedication and pull the heaviest load yourself before you can expect others to work for your project for free, but for the right people of the right mind, the Walking for Water organisation is a very useful community. Raising money for clean drinking water in Tanzania.

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Charlie Christensen is walking for 18,000 kilometers, through 28 countries, over 2.5 years to raise money and awareness for the need for clean drinking water in Tanzania.

It is a journey to inspire the beginning of a movement meant to combine the trends of explorations and self realizing journeys with the noble cause of supplying the world with clean drinking water, wherever needed.

Follow Charlie’s walk for water on his website and Facebook.

Photo credits: Feature by Jim Holmes for AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Pinterest images: compilation photos from top to bottom by Gary EdenfieldSacca & DFID. Traveler collecting water in a bucket from a village tap by DFAT. Woman pouring water by Albert González Farran, UNAMID. Woman from Sierra Leone by Steve Evans. Maasai men drink from a water pump by Nestlé. Digging for drinking water in a dry riverbed by Marisol Grandon/Department for International Development. Drinking Water from Well by USAID/Morgana Wingard.

    22 Comments

  1. Wow. This is heartbreaking and inspiring. Makes you wonder how this is really possible?! And then how you can help. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glad you liked the interview Ashley. Really does evoke mixed emotions – so inspiring that one person has decided that he alone is going to do everything in his power to make a difference. We need more people like Charlie in the world to show people that a personal contribution to change really can go far :)

    • Thanks Jeremy! Glad you enjoyed the interview :)

  2. A young man making the world a better place, thank you for the introduction. I will be sharing this great cause.

    • Happy to introduce you to Charlie Brenda and his cause :)

  3. What an amazing guy! This story is so inspiring and I hope his efforts make a huge difference in the quest for clean water in Africa. I also now know which walking boots to buy to make sure I don’t get blisters!
    Just a side note, it might be worth him getting in touch with the LifeStraw guys and have one of those as a backup for his time in Africa.

    • Absolutely – Charlie is inspiring for sure! Thanks for the note on LifeStraw – I’ll pass on the tip :)

  4. Oh Megan what an inspirational human being and story! It is extremely unfair that there’s such a divide between developed and developing countries. Every single person should have their basic human rights met. Having access to to clean water is a human right. Sometimes we wonder what one person can do to make a positive change, but all it takes is one person, that causes a ripple effect and before you know more people are involved. Good on Charlie. I must read more in depth about the Walking For Water organisation.

    http://itsatravelfullife.com

    • Totally agree with you Marteen – if anything, I thin the main message here is that one person really can make a difference, mainly in that it does cause a ripple effect. And when one person inspires 10, and those 10 inspire an additional 10, that’s when we start seeing a noticeable and positive change in the world.

      So I really do believe that one person can have the power to affect change, even if it’s in most inspiring others to do something too :)

  5. This is very inspiring. thank you for sharing Charlie’s story with us. I had water poisoning twice. It was such an aweful experience and I don’t wish it on anybody

    • Thanks Naomi! I’m glad I could introduce you to Charlie and his story. Sorry to hear about your experiences with water poisoning. Hopefully we can rally enough people behind these causes that no-one will ever have to resort to drinking unclean water again.

  6. Wow this was a great read and really allows you to tap in and see what is really going on. I would to visit Tanzania one day soon. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Holly – so glad you enjoyed the interview. I hope you have the chance to visit Tanzania and support the cause for clean water soon :)

  7. Great Post, In Ethiopia we would fill up anything and everything. We would throw out to the locals as we made our way down the road. It was magical to see their faces when we would toss them a large bottle of water. It did not matter if they were 70 or 10 they would always wave like we just gave them the best present in the world.

    • Thanks David :) It saddens me that something we take for granted, such a basic human right, is obviously in such dire need in parts of the world. So glad to hear you’ve had this experience bringing water to parts of Ethiopia. Really incredible of you XX

  8. Helping others my friend, that’s what we are really here for, cheers and happy trails.

    • Absolutely! So glad you enjoyed the post :)

  9. Bloody Nora! What a legend. Rightly so about the boots. I’d be lost without mine.

    • Absolutely – his journey and mission is quite incredible!

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