| Jun 17, 2013
Day Five – Spanaway to Yelm, WA
20 miles walked today
138 miles to go
Many of the people Medical Teams International serves around the world earn less than $2 a day. They can’t afford a bicycle, much less a car. They can’t pay for public transportation, if it’s even available.
So, they have no choice. If they need to see a doctor, they walk—sometimes for hours.
A few weeks ago, Lynn and I were in Uganda, visiting people served by our volunteers and staff in refugee camps and poor communities throughout the country.
We met Rose, a 33-year-old widow, whose husband died of AIDS. Rose and her two sons, Emmanuel and Andrew, are all HIV-positive and receive antiretroviral drugs for their condition at the Ogur Center, an AIDS/HIV community health center we operate in northern Uganda.
It takes Rose and her sons two hours to walk to the Center to get the help and the medicines they need. Then, after they are finished at the Center, they have to walk two hours to get back home. Often, they’re gone for an entire day.
Rose's sons are stunted because of malnutrition. She’s doing her best to provide them with the nutrition they need. Since she has been on the antiretroviral drugs, she has been much less sick. This has helped her to cultivate her garden, which is the only source of income and food for her and for her two boys.
Rose and her sons would probably not survive without the help they get at the Center. And, that’s why they gladly spend most of their day walking to get to the Center. They are literally walking for their lives.
When Rose, Emmanuel and Andrew walk to the Center, they wear inexpensive, flip-flop sandals. They walk on rough, dirt roads that are either full of mud or full of dust, depending on the season. They have no water bottle to carry water. They often go the entire day without food. Sometimes they’re sick with malaria, dysentery or respiratory diseases. For them, walking is not a choice. It's essential to their survival.
In so many ways, there’s no comparison between their walking and mine. I’ve got good shoes to wear. I’m carrying a water bottle to stay hydrated. I stop for lunch along the way. I walk on sidewalks and asphalt roadsides. I'm not sick. For me, walking is a choice, not a requirement.
Regardless of these differences, for these two weeks, I am walking. And, as I walk, in some way, I identify with Rose and her two sons and others like them. And, I thank God that generous donors and a dedicated staff are providing the medicines and care that enable Rose and her boys to live.
That’s worth celebrating. And, that's one big reason why I'm walking.