“The question of why do I do what I do is often one I get, but seldom have an answer for. I do it because this is what I feel I am meant to do. I truly believe I was put on the Earth to do, so I do it.”
She led a life dedicated to making the world a better place, she devoted her time to trips abroad so she could change the lives of thousands, she encouraged youth engagement and inspired many through her work; her spirit lives on. She continued to strive, and dream. There was no limit.
Her name was Alex Foto, and she was the one who came up with the idea of a water walk to raise money and awareness for those without access to clean water.
Alex Foto in the Dominican Republic
The world lost Alex when she was just 19 years old, due to a tragic accident. Though she may not be here today, her spirit and kind nature live on.
Every morning we wake up, go the the washroom, flush the toilet, and (hopefully) wash our hands. Maybe after that we’ll walk into the kitchen, fill up the glass cup with pure, clear water, and we’ll drink it. Or perhaps you’re like my parents and prefer a coffee instead. However your morning routine goes, you’re using water.
“Well yeah, obviously,’’ you’re probably thinking, but do you ever think about where your water comes from? What about how lucky you are that all you need to do is reach up into the kitchen cabinet, grab a cup, and wait a mere five seconds for it to be filled up?
But for one in nine people, it’s not so easy. That’s how many people on this planet don’t have access to clean water.
In fact, women and children in parts of Africa and Asia are forced to walk an average of 6km per day for water, and it isn’t always clean or safe to drink.
Miyoba, 8 years-old, collects water near her home in Zambia
Because of this, every minute a child dies from a water-related disease. In total, there are about 840,000 innocent people of all ages dying from a problem that can eventually be fixed.
When I saw a post on our World Vision Youth Facebook page calling for ambassadors to help out with the Live Like Alex Water Walk, I started to learn more about Alex Foto and her idea to run a nation wide water walk. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to help.
On a Live Like Alex Water Walk, you and a team of five other people fill your jerry cans up with water, and walk 6km. Before the walk, you raise donations to support your walk that will help clean water projects in developing countries.
Before the walk, I felt a mix of excitement and butterflies, but also some sadness, since the one who had dreamed of this idea wasn't there to share the moment with us.
A long walk for good
My brother, mom, dad and I arrived for the walk a half hour early, and they lovingly taunted me for it. After check-in, we opened the day hearing from Alex’s mother. She read some of Alex’s diary passages of when she was on her trips to Kenya and Tanzania, and it was sobering. In her passages she talked about how she was upset that we let other humans live this way, and that she was so grateful that she lived in a country like ours.
The most memorable passage for me was that she would never complain about doing her homework again. The last one stuck with me, because I complain about doing my homework, but never take into fact that children in developing countries would be so thankful to switch places with me and be able to go to school. After hearing Alex’s writing, I've made it a goal to always think about what I have before I start complaining.
My family and I carrying the jerry can. We're smiling, but it was hard work!
Before we started to walk, Alex’s mother suggested that we really think while we walk. Think about Alex, think about the women and children in developing countries, and to really reflect on what we want to do to make our life count.
We began our journey, and it was hard.
The mixture of the heat, weight of the water, and the distance of 6km, had all combined to make it a fairly uncomfortable walk. It really put into perspective how lucky we are that we don't need to walk every single day just to get water.
Though the walk was difficult, I couldn't help but feel a little bit of guilt, because I knew that those who do this daily out of necessity don't get a team of six to help them.
A world-changer's legacy
After participating in the Water Walk, I now understand what it means to Live Like Alex. I feel impassioned to live to the fullest, and to be as kind and dedicated as Alex was when it comes to helping others.
Though I never met Alex, I still consider her a role model of mine. Her water walk was truly life changing, and I thank her for everything that she's done for those who aren't as lucky as us. Because of this experience, I've become inspired to make a difference in our world- and you can too.
You can take your first step by taking World Vision's brand new World-Changer Personality Quiz. I took it and found out that I’m a creative powerhouse, like Emma Watson! Sweet! Now I know how to express my world-changing ideas in a more unique way, that suits my personality type! What kind of world changer are you?
By Brianna Andrews