Take the walk

Robyn Kessler, Take The Walk

For the last two years, Take The Walk has been held in Cape Town.

This is set to hopefully become an annual occurrence, with the possibility and intention of taking it further afield within the boundaries of South Africa in 2018.

Take The Walk is a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based charity, which works with partners solely to help alleviate poverty in South Africa. Five causes were identified when the charity was formed – and with them, five working partners.

It is always easier to accomplish something with the cooperation of like-minded people. Take The Walk celebrates its 10-year anniversary next year on September 10, so be informed in advance that that Sunday will be the date for next year’s walk.

However, this year’s walk is on Saturday September 24, and it will be the first time that a recurring venue, Rondebosch Common, is being used.

Previous walks on South African shores have been held at the skate park in Durban, the waterfront in Cape Town, the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and Zoo Lake in Johannesburg, all in 2009.

We used middle campus at the university here in Cape Town in 2014, and Rondebosch Common last year.

The message of Take The Walk is that no one’s contribution is insignificant, and that just by walking the one mile route on the day (the Common is suitably sized from the memorial stone on the corner of Campground and Park roads, to the carpark) one can and will make a difference, since one dollar is donated to one of the five poverty relief actions for each walker.

The causes are the building of schools, the provision of clean drinking water, the provision of footwear, access to provision of healthcare for HIV-positive pregnant mothers through sponsorship of text message contact between them and their doctors, and the provision of healthcare to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

This last cause is the one we will be walking for on Heritage Day, and the working partner is HIVSA.

It is a sad reality today that many children are born into the world with the HI virus, and that the only heritage they bring into this world is out of a background of poverty and HIV infection.

These are exactly the things that Take The Walk aims to help alleviate, and that is the reason that we are choosing to host Take The Walk this year on September 24.

In their “Take The Walk” book, which documents what the campaign is about and stands for, Isaac, Taylor and Zachary Hanson say that, while “everyone waits and everyone thinks their role is too small… the struggle is to get off the starting line, to move beyond caring and speaking, and begin doing. The challenge is to Take The Walk.”

Take The Walk has no entry fee, but a dollar is generated for use in South Africa for each person who walks.

Through the Take The Walk campaign to date, 65 930 miles have been walked. This figure is according to the official Take The Walk website, and also reflects the number of dollars that have been poured into poverty alleviation through the campaign in the nine years since its origin.

Owing to the fact that the original target was 24 902 miles (or once around the earth at the equator), the original vision for Take The Walk has been far surpassed.

Put differently, 65 930 miles is equivalent to 27.6% of the distance from the earth to the moon.

Of those miles, about 300 have been walked in South Africa, with the best attended walks being Cape Town and Durban in 2009, with 112 and 103 walkers, respectively.

The numbers have got lower with each successive walk in Cape Town (we’ve had 162 walkers over three walks), but we hope that if people understand the message of the charity, that the number will increase over the years.

The best supported cause has been that for clean drinking water, US$18 909 having been raised. US$14 653 have been raised towards the building of schools.

And 13 571 miles have been walked towards the provision of footwear.

AIDS treatment and research (working partner is HIVSA and funds go to the Perinatal HIV Research Unit for the effective development of ARV and treatment programmes) is the fourth most supported cause, with 13 253 miles having been walked.

We hope to be able to push that number up over 13 300 in two and a half weeks’ time.

The cause for text message sponsorship has generated only US$5 544, and that is why I plan to give it a run over multiple walk venues in multiple cities later in 2018.

It would be wonderful if as many citizens of Cape Town as possible would take an hour out of their public holiday to come and walk once around the Common and thereby make a difference to the lives of others.

Email hansonsouthafrica@ gmail.com for details.