2014-07-29 06.23.03I am 33 years old and that was physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I’ve just walked to and from work for three days in a row… that’s 10.5 miles each way, 63 miles in total. The two children from Rwanda who inspired me to do this challenge – whose names I shall probably never know – are around ten years old and for them, it’s a weekly routine.

Following in their footsteps gave me time to reflect (about 21 hours of it!).

By the end of the first day, my feet were absolutely covered in painful blisters. But I guess if you did that walk everyday, your feet would soon toughen up.

By the end of the second day, my muscles were sore and I ached with every step. But I guess if you did it everyday, your muscles would soon get stronger.

But what struck me most was just how much food I had to eat. Each day consisted of muesli x 1 bowl, pasta x 2 portions, banana x 2, Jelly Babies (not as nice as I remember), breakfast biscuits x 2 packets, orange x 2, nuts x 1 bag of and (at least) one chocolate bar. And I was still starving! When you walk, you burn off calories. No matter how often you do it, you still burn the same amount. That’s basic biology. And yet these children that we’re talking about live in some of the most malnourished parts of the world. It’s mind blowing to me now how they manage it…

I much preferred the pain of the blisters and aching muscles to the feeling I had when I just didn’t have the energy to take another step. Pain is often a mental barrier… it was a battle of will power… to keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time. But if you don’t physically have the strength, if there’s no fuel in the tank, then it doesn’t matter how much desire you have, you’re not going to get very far.

I hope that the money I’ve raised – and everyone donated – can help provide that fuel, because as I came to realise, will power alone just isn’t enough. I don’t just mean food, I mean books, teachers and schools. We have the resources to provide the things they need to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

And believe me, those two children in Rwanda – whose names I shall probably never know – have proved that if we can just provide resources, then they most definitely have the will power to change their lives. That’s something they have in abundance… I can now testify to that. And once you add our resources to that will power… they can find their own way out of poverty and to a dignified, independent future.

Support Joe’s fundraising efforts or sign up for your own Footsteps for Futures challenge here