Priscilla Chomba, Kenya

31 Dec 2020

At the start of this year I committed to walking at least 1km every single day of 2020 and therefore get to a total of 365km by December 31.  

And then 2020 happened. From the initial panic of being outside and potentially contracting the dreaded coronavirus, to the conflicting information in the early days around whether to wear masks or leave them for health professionals, my ambition was thrown out of the window and I buried my head in work and Zoom meetings, only getting out to walk once in a long while.  

The Walk for Survival Challenge re-ignited my zeal for staying healthy – mentally, physically and emotionally. The daily walks have helped me get back to my meditation practices, and I often use the long walks to think about challenges facing the youth and how I can contribute to solving some of those challenges.  

I am walking for survival – survival of my younger brother’s dreams. His graduation from university after four long and hard years of study has been met with few opportunities for him to earn an income and be in charge of his livelihood. When I see the weary look in his eyes as he sends out yet another job application or business proposal, and think about his agemates who don’t even have the privilege of going to college, I shudder to think how hopeless some of them might be feeling right now.  

One told me how her parents can no longer afford to send her to school because last year’s drought wiped out her father’s entire crop of maize. Another has lost his income because frequent electricity outages forced the barbershop he was working in to close. From climate change-induced woes to rising cost of living, to news of the government defaulting on debt obligations, I am not sure what the youth of Zambia have to look forward to.  

I am walking because it is unacceptable for our leaders to be exacerbating an already hopeless situation for the young people – young people, including my children, who will be left to carry the burdens of debt and climate change long after they are gone.