Pretoria News

WALKING IN AFRICA FOR A BETTER WORLD

- SAKHILE NDLAZI sakhile.ndlazi@inl.co.za

TWO months later and after going through two pairs of shoes walking for more than 2 000km across Southern Africa and losing 15kg, Australian activist Matt Napier said he would gladly do it again.

Napier, 39, didn’t do all of this in vain. He did it to raise awareness on the importance of reducing poverty around the world through sustainabl­e developmen­t.

As part of the “Walk to a Better World” campaign, Napier, accompanie­d by his wife Wendy, travelled through Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique – a journey that took them two months to complete.

Napier said he was passionate about seeing an end to extreme poverty and a fairer world for all. He and his wife have dedicated themselves to raising awareness about global poverty.

“I’m also hoping to help all Australian­s better understand the role they can play in ending world poverty in the next generation, and the importance of supporting sustainabl­e developmen­t that works hand-in-hand with local communitie­s,” Napier said.

His journey started on June 4 in Walvis Bay in Namibia. From there, he travelled through the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, entered South Africa through Zeerust and headed towards the finish line in Maputo, Mozambique, on August 3.

The first challenge he came across was a heavy sandstorm in Namibia. “It wasn’t a pleasant start to my journey. The sandstorm really dampened my mood, but I did not let that discourage me,” said Napier.

In Botswana he encountere­d wildlife, but even that was not enough to halt him in his tracks. Napier lived off $1.50 (R20.49) a day, which he admitted was a mammoth challenge. “I set myself the challenge of completing the entire trip spending just $1.50 per day on food to simulate what it is like for the billions who live below the poverty line every day. So my eating on this trip was very basic, to say the least.”

His days started at 6am and he covered over 50km a day, walking well into the night. For breakfast he had either porridge or cornflakes with a cup of tea, lunch was usually just dry noodles or a sandwich. In the afternoon he had tea and a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Dinner was rice or pasta with sauce and a couple of cups of tea. He kept hydrated with water or cheap cordial. His minimal diet reflected on his weight as he lost 15kg.

“Many times the hunger pains were so bad I felt like I was going to faint; my stomach was eating away at itself in ways it never has before,” said Napier. He slept in a tent.

He was also carrying a soccer ball for the entire trip as a way of connecting with people from all walks of life and highlighti­ng how sport can be used as a tool to help alleviate poverty in Africa.

Throughout his trip he also gave away 200 soccer balls to impoverish­ed communitie­s. He said seeing the smile on the faces of the kids after giving them a ball was priceless. Soccer is a sport that brings people together from all walks of life, he said.

The “Walk to a Better World” campaign will continue with an online pledge encouragin­g people to donate 1% of their income to organisati­ons leading the way in overcoming poverty. Funds raised through the online pledge will support the work of four charity partners: Oxfam Australia, The Fred Hollows Foundation, CARE Australia and Caritas Australia. For a pledge visit: www.walktoabet­terworld.com.

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 ?? PICTURE: PHILL MAGAKOE ?? Matt Napier from Australia with his wife Wendy during an interview with the Pretoria News. Matt walked across Southern Africa for a better world.
PICTURE: PHILL MAGAKOE Matt Napier from Australia with his wife Wendy during an interview with the Pretoria News. Matt walked across Southern Africa for a better world.

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