Athletes research the best running shoes to enhance their performance. But in many places, children walk for water, to school, and play in bare feet or terrible shoes.
Today’s photo series shows some of the worst running shoes you’d never want to wear … let alone walk 6 kilometers in.
* * *
I painfully walked as the sun slowly peeked over the horizon and began meandering its way up over the water, creating a gorgeous, late-summer Midwest morning. The beauty of the Great Lakes surrounded me, with Lake Huron to my left and Lake Michigan to my right. But the beauty of what surrounded me was marred by the throbbing in my feet.
You see, each year during Labor Day weekend, the Mackinac Bridge — a 5-mile bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan — shuts down. Walkers and runners alike are bussed from the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula, where they begin the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. I was in northern Michigan visiting a friend’s family that weekend when they spontaneously decided we should all do the walk. But they had a lake house, so I had only brought flip flops for my weekend beach getaway.
Masked by naivety in my younger age, I said I could totally do it in my $5 flip-flops. It only took a couple miles in to realize the error of my ways, but I had to get to the other side. By the time I did, my feet were blistered and beaten.
Flash forward more than 10 years, and I was following two young girls, 5-year-old Grace and 3-year-old Judith, in northern Uganda as they walked barefoot to gather dirty water for their families. These girls walked about 6 kilometers every day with heavy jerry cans on their heads — without any footwear. I couldn’t even fathom it as I followed closely behind them with my fancy trail runners protecting my feet.
While runners, walkers, and athletes around the world search for the best shoes to enhance their athletic performance, children living in poverty often work, travel, and play in the worst shoes. Our photographers share some of the worst shoes you wouldn’t want to run or walk in.
On average, women and children walk 6 kilometers every day to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink, many of them in poor — or no — footwear. But the state of their shoes or lack of them is often quite low on their list of concerns. This water makes them and their families sick, the children spend their time walking for water rather than going to school, and there are dangers along many of these routes: animals, difficult terrain, and people with evil intent.
On May 16, 2020, tens of thousands of people will come together for World Vision’s Global 6K for Waterto change this! Every step we take is one they won’t have to, so start your walk for clean water today.