Some grandparents cook with their grandchildren. Some play games together. Some make music. But Susy and her granddaughter, Siachen, walk World Vision’s Global 6K for Water®. And they’ve done it together for 10 years — in 2023, they’ll make it 11 years.
“We certainly will do it [this year]. For us it’s a given,” says Susy. “Because it’s important to us and we both believe in it.”
It all started in 2013 when Susy strapped her infant granddaughter to her chest and walked 6 kilometers to raise money so that people around the world could have access to clean water.
Understanding the need
Susy doesn’t take clean water for granted. She lived in northern India for more than 18 years and learned that easy access to the precious resource wasn’t guaranteed. “I know how heavy it is to haul water just a few hundred feet,” she says. “You treasure your water so much. You have such a limited supply.”
The average distance that people in developing countries walk to get water is 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). Susy’s walk for water in India was significantly shorter, but it nevertheless helped her to empathize with the burden that many people around the world bear. She says, “I really feel for people who through their whole life don’t have access to clean water and travel a distance and only have dirty water.”
A June 2021 report from the World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program reported that 771 million people, or 1 in 10, lacked access to a clean water source within a 30-minute round trip from their home.
“There’s always something you can do.”
When the 2014 Global 6K rolled around, Susy pushed Siachen in a stroller. From the age of 4 on, Siachen walked the 6 kilometers on her own two feet.
In fact, Siachen didn’t want Susy to even bring her stroller. Susy remembers, “She was a big kid now. She was going to do the whole thing.”
The race was fun, but the fundraising has really brought grandmother and granddaughter together. They always look for ways they can help others and the Global 6K makes it easy, especially for someone Siachen’s age. She’s learned that she can believe in people’s generosity and their desire to support a good cause.
“When you do have expectations of another person, they usually live into it,” Susy says. “You don’t necessarily have to say anything but show by your attitude that of course they can do this.”
Siachen is learning that she has power. She can use her own gifts and abilities to make a difference. “You don’t ever think you don’t have anything to give. There’s always something you can do,” Susy tells Siachen. “You have help in your feet.”
That first year Siachen walked the Global 6K, grandmother and granddaughter passed out flyers to parents of her preschool classmates. Now they send emails and talk to people in person. “Me and my nani have a lot of friends. And our friends donate money,” Siachen says, “to help get clean water for other kids.”
Indeed, they do have a lot of friends. In 2021, Siachen was the top youth fundraiser in the United States, raising $4,840.50. In 2022, she raised even more: $5,181. In 2022, she was the U.S. top youth fundraiser again. Together Siachen and her grandmother’s donations totaled $9,531 in 2022. That means clean water for 190 people.
Over their 10 years, Siachen and Susy have raised $39,047 — helping empower 780 people with clean water.
Braving the elements
The 2022 Global 6K wasn’t without incident. Susy and Siachen set out walking with Siachen’s friend Maya on the official 6K date. They had hoped that the predicted rain would hold off, but about a third of the way through, the skies opened up on the walkers. Drenched, they decided to try again on another day.
Happily, on June 4, they got a second chance. Siachen and Maya walked part of the way, roughly what they’d missed out on walking before rain cancelled their first attempt. Then they finished up their Global 6K on bikes.
Susy knows that people often stumble over having to raise funds. Her recommendation? Maybe try the 6K without fundraising the first time, just to see what it’s like. And, she adds, “It’s a fun time to be together to help people.”
Many people, especially in Western cultures, don’t especially enjoy asking others for help, but Susy offers another point of view. Scripture tells us that it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). “You’re giving people that opportunity to be blessed,” she says.
After the event, grandmother and granddaughter always bless everyone who gave to their effort with a picture postcard thank-you note. They want to be sure that people know their fundraising outcome. The donors are a part of their team.
As Susy started Siachen on this journey, now Siachen offers advice to friends who might be considering joining in World Vision’s Global 6K. “I would tell them you’re helping kids get clean water,” Siachen says simply. “You can do this. Stay strong.”
Good advice from a 10-year-old Global 6K veteran.