Rainbows and Kings – How Jeevika Trust’s Walk for Water 2016 linked London to Rural India

by Catherine Purvis, Trustee at Jeevika Trust 

Back in October 2016 a number of our supporters took part in Walking for Water to raise vital funds to continue delivering projects in rural India. Catherine Purvis, one of our Trustees took part on the day and has shared with us her thoughts on the walk and why fundraising events like this really matter.

What does Henry VII have to do with Indian rural women? When hardy walkers stomp through his scenic and prosperous Bushey Park, home of Hampton Court, everything! Henry was never a man to deny his pleasures. But for women in India today, there is no majesty in walking 2 hours daily just to get water – to survive. No pleasure. That is just their reality. That is what bought us here to majestic Bushey Park, to walk for 4 hours to get water.  Women in rural India walk on average for 2 hours to bring safe water home. In 2016 that is a scandal, which Jeevika Trust aim to change.

A field of ferns, as high as my shoulder, was our start, green and lush, and if you looked closely, antlers popped up to greet us. Then the Water Gardens, with ponds and swamps, so still and pretty, and by this point our band of walkers were starting to split, some fast ones, others doing the more scenic route, enjoying the varied scenery. Contrasting, a plain of heavy oaks betrayed their history, with one split by lighting. No one had told me how beautiful Bushey Park was; a ‘safari of everything.’

The highlight for me was ‘The Long Water’ next to Hampton Court; a monumental long lake, such a statement of intent from Henry VII, with swans as ornaments. This display of water as power and adornment, and how courtiers would walk past, contrasted in my mind to women walking quietly to clean water in rivers and ponds, journeying for miles away from their homes. My mind drifted to what an Indian woman would think of this, a lake as straight and long as the Mall is by Buckingham Palace. This in 2016, is reality for many Indian women.

The weather put on its magic too, with our ending as a rainbow over the park to show the rain we had escaped, at 3 and a half hours in. As we walked to a shut gate, I moaned that I was tired, and one of my hardier colleagues laughed and said we’d best get on with it! That for me was the spirit of the afternoon, for us an easy scenic walk, for Indian women, not that luxury.

The winner was the park itself, and Jeevika Trust – well on the way to raising £5000. With tired legs, blisters, but feeling very fit, you realise how lucky you are to not do this journey barefoot daily.

That is why the Walk for Water matters. Jeevika Trust helps purify ponds so Indian women have quick access to water that Henry VII had next to his palace. After all, access to water nearby should be a right not a privilege.

Do join next year – you might just get the rainbow ending again, and so should rural Indian communities.


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