Independent Sheffield charity celebrates World Water Day

Inspired by his Granddad’s last words before he died, 27 year old Liam Garcia is about to embark on a colossal adventure, walking from Sheffield to Cape Town, in an attempt to raise awareness of and combat water-poverty in Africa.

Film by Joe Bream and Marishka Van Steenbergen at Humbledinger.

Liam, from Sheffield, has spent the last two years creating and establishing a new water charity called The Long Well Walk. The volunteer-run charity is committed to developing effective, sustainable water and sanitation projects in partnership with local communities in Africa.

On Saturday, in celebration of World Water Day, the charity’s main fundraising event, which Liam has spent the last two years preparing for, will begin. Joined by family and friends for the first 14 miles, Liam will set out on an 11,000 mile walk from his hometown of Sheffield across Europe and then Africa to arrive in Cape Town 18 months and 15 countries later.

Liam Garcia out walking, by

Liam Garcia walking in the Peak District, by

Walking for a good cause

The motivation for The Long Well Walk began in 2011 when Liam returned to Sheffield from his travels in America to see his Granddad who was ill in hospital.

“Luckily I managed to spend some time with my Granddad before he died. He’d brought me up and I had a lot of respect for him, he was the centre of the family.

“Although he was happy to see me, he had his words to say about how I’d spent my life before then. I’d spent a long time away from home, out of touch and looking out for myself. So he was understandably disappointed and he got that across before he died.”

After spending a few months recovering from the loss of his Granddad, Liam decided to go with a friend to Ireland to see where his Granddad was from. During the journey Liam was inspired by someone he met who was walking from Copenhagen to Amsterdam for a Cerebral Palsy charity.

Liam decided that this was how he would improve himself and make his Granddad proud; by walking alone for a good cause.

Nine pairs of walking boots

Three years later Liam is about to begin a grueling adventure across the world, raising awareness and money to tackle water poverty.

Alton Maasai Project, Kenya, Photo from The Long Well Walk

The Alton Maasai Project, Kenya, Photo from The Long Well Walk

During the walk Liam will be visiting the projects his charity supports, donating 100% of all public donations and raising awareness of the lack of safe and clean water in Africa.

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, met with Liam on a rainy day in February to find out more about the charity, he said:

“It’s incredible to hear that Liam is going to go through nine pairs of walking boots, walk from one of the wettest places on the planet to some of the driest places on the planet, visit the projects and do it all over an 18 month period to highlight such an important cause.”

“We take easy access to safe and clean water for granted in developed countries, but for many others in the world it’s a real problem. We reply on people like Liam to remind us of this stark fact.”

Liam Garcia talking to Nick Clegg, by 4

Liam Garcia talking to Nick Clegg, by

Rimas Tankile-Morris, a Maasai from Kenya who came to Sheffield in 2001, met Liam when he was looking for someone to teach him Swahili. Rimas runs the Alton Maasai project, a community project in Kenya that has built a two-classroom school close to the community.

A teacher teaching at the Alton Maasai Project, Kenya, Photo from The Long Well Walk

Children learning at the Alton Maasai Project, Kenya, Photo from The Long Well Walk

As their first project, The Long Well Walk teamed up with another Sheffield charity Dig Deep, to fund the installation of rainwater harvesting, toilets for the students and teachers and hand washing stations at the school. Rimas said the community is very grateful to have clean water so close to where they live and work.

“For someone like Liam to decide he is going to help provide water to people he has absolutely no connection with is amazing. I think he is a great person with a big heart.”

World Water Day has been observed on 22nd March since 1993 when the UN declared this as the ‘World Day for Water’. This year the UN is highlighting the ‘water-energy nexus’, addressing the inequalities for those living in poverty and surviving without safe drinking water, sanitation and sufficient food and energy services.

The Alton Maasai Project, Kenya, Photo from The Long Well Walk

The Alton Maasai Project, Kenya, Photo from The Long Well Walk

The Long Well Walk will be hosting a send off for Liam at Sheffield City Hall on Saturday morning, which will be attended by the SOSA-XA Southern African choir, Sheffield’s Lord Mayor Vickie Priestley and Paul Blomfield labour MP for Sheffield Central.