Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Round the world Anna coming to Kilcullen

Anna Harrington with Maureen and Michael O'Connell, Newbridge.
A woman from Idaho in the US who is visiting Kilcullen on Friday is one very special lady, writes Brian Byrne. For many reasons, including thousands of miles and lots of worn-out shoes.

Anna Harrington is walking here from Newbridge. And then she is walking on ... and on ... and on. Until, in a total of six years since she began her journey, she will have walked around the world.

Her mission? To highlight the fact that almost a billion people on the planet lack access to clean water. And that amongst their number are many — mostly women and children — who walk up to eight hours a day to collect water for their families.

"When I read that statistic, I didn't connect with it," she writes on her website. "It was only a number to me. But when I learned women and children were walking up to eight hours a day to fetch water, that I could relate to."

So far she has completed stages of her world walk in the US, Portugal and England. In all she plans to have walked in 21 countries before she finishes. Eleven are in Europe, four in Asia including Russia and China, Australia, and four in South America.

In 2014, Anna walked across the US to raise awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children, in thanks for how they had cared for a nephew with scoliosis. She walked over 30km a day in heat, cold, rain and snow. "The difference is, I had a choice ... one in ten people don't enjoy that luxury."

On Friday morning, Anna will leave Newbridge in the company of some local people, pulling her cart 'Magellan' behind her. She plans to arrive in Kilcullen at 10am, and meet Martin Heydon TD at his clinic in the Parish Centre.

She will hand Martin a letter for Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, to remind him that Ireland is one of the countries committed to the achieving of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The provision of clean water and sanitation to all is goal number six.

"Providing everyone with access to safe drinking water would empty half of the world's hospital beds," Anna says. "And it would allow children, especially girls, to return to school, since they usually have the primary responsibility of collecting water."