We were born with feet, not roots – It was this realisation that first made me consider the idea of walking across an entire country. Seeing people suffer from so many lifestyle diseases, often made worse or sometimes even caused by living a sedentary lifestyle really made me think. If we were born to live a sedentary lifestyle then why were we blessed with such a fantastic carriage as two feet? Our ancestors must have been people who moved, how else did the human race spread throughout the globe?
There is no older or more basic form of travel than on foot.
In our modern world of rushing from A to B, connecting only through our phones and social media, nothing may seem stranger than moving slowly, on foot from village to village connecting with people face to face. Moving slowly from village to village gives us time to take in the local environment, meet and connect with the people in each place and to observe the changes as we pass through the landscape. Any other form of transport other than walking is simply too fast to give you the time to take everything in. The only way to really study and learn about a country is to walk through it.
In the last 3 years we have completed 3 walks; Walking Malaysia, Walking Borneo and Walking Norfolk. Covering a distance of more than 3650km on foot and fundraising for NGO’s working in conservation, indigenous community empowerment and bringing the joy of music to disabled children.
What motivates us to want to keep walking across countries? “To share joy and happiness with all.” We walk with a smile and the simple goal of meeting as many people as possible and sharing a moment of joy with them. Each walk we have undertaken we have tried to highlight positive stories we found along the way. People working to make their local area and environment a better place. Each walk we have also partnered with a local NGO on a fundraiser to help the local people. Walking across countries is our platform to share and connect a positive message with people.
Each place we walk through we aim to make a kinetic, visual and audio presentation of joy. We share joy kinetically by having people come join us and walk with us for short distances of 1 – 10km to directly experience the walk. We share joy visually through our photography, capturing images of joy as we walk. We share joy audibly by collaborating with local musicians and asking them to express joy themselves on their chosen instrument.
I first came to India more than 6 years ago to study a course on permaculture, a form of sustainable agriculture in Auroville, Tamil Nadu. I spent three months travelling around South India visiting a number of organic and sustainable farmers trying to learn as much as I could. I learnt so much about India’s incredibly rich and diverse systems of agriculture, both modern and traditional. From permaculture, to Zero-Budget farming, to traditional water harvesting techniques in Rajasthan and so much more.
I gained a lot from my time studying sustainable agriculture in all its diverse forms in India. When I was thinking about which country to walk across next no where seemed to call to me like India did and I could think of no reason closer to my heart than trying to help India’s farmers in someway.
From this desire to help India’s farmers and to continue sharing happiness and joy the idea of our biggest walk yet was born; the Walk of Joy India.
Walk of Joy India is a 6,000km walk across 13 states in 10 months starting on Saturday 15th July in Kanyakumari and finishing in Amritsar in May 2018.
Walk of Joy India is a walk to help the farmers of India and the victims of the farmer suicide crisis.
We want to help farmers by connecting them directly to consumers so that they can get a fair price for their produce, and spreading the message of sustainable agriculture.
The walk is fundraising to help the victims of the farmer suicide crisis by supporting Rescue a Family (RAF). Rescue A Family is a project run by UNITED SIKHS who are providing long-term sustainable support to the widows and child victims of farmer suicides. They are providing long-term sustainable pensions of Rs. 1000 per month to the widows of farmer suicides. The widows are asked to sign a commitment to use the money to help keep the children in school. Through this support they are helping the child victims of farmer suicides ensure that they can still complete their education and still get the chance to fulfil their dreams. Without this support the family are all too often forced to put the children straight into low paid labour work.
Alongside the fundraising we are running the #millionsmiles campaign. Million Smiles is a campaign to share simple, everyday moments of happiness and joy. The tiny moments that make us all smile each and everyday such as meeting an old friend, enjoying some delicious food etc.