Walking to Survive

Imagine Monday morning comes. You arise early so by 5am you are out the door to begin your journey of gaining an income for your family that day. 


You aren’t driving to a job, but instead you are walking. You are walking to purchase corn which you can return home and sell to those in your community. This is how you make an income.


It isn’t a short walk either. You must walk 10.5 miles to get to the market outside of town. These aren’t easy miles either. They aren’t flat and paved. You are in Rwanda after all. The country known as “the land of a thousand hills”. They are hilly miles on mostly rocky terrain. 


At this market you can buy corn at half the price with which you can in town. This gives you a little bit of hope of making slightly more income to provide for your family. That family you care for as a single mother and consists of three young children. Children who you love with such deep love. A love that has you staying awake at night to hold an umbrella over their heads so they can sleep, on the full size mattress you all share, when it rains through your leaky roof. A place you often find yourself during Rwanda’s rainy season. 


Alright you’ve made it those 10.5 miles and purchased your corn. Then you have to follow your steps back those 10.5 miles to return home. A home where you have three children to care for. Your two oldest are sometimes in school. You can’t consistently pay their school fees, though. This leads to them being chased out of school only to return home without the education that every child deserves access to. 


You do this walk three times a week to total around 60 miles per week. On the in between days you must sell that corn. You do this to make around $6-$8 a week. This isn’t a profit because next week you will have to take out of that the cost of corn once again. And at the end of the month you’ll have to pay your landlord the $7 you owe for your 9 foot by 9 foot one room home. 


The following week you do it all over again. 

This is the story of a lovely woman named Diane.


I met Diane while in Rwanda in October 2023. Her smile can light up a room. Her love for her children abounds. Yet, hope is hard to hold onto at times. We sat in her home and she spoke of the challenge of holding onto hope for herself and her children. The challenge of providing food, shelter, clean water, and clothing for her children. She just recently learned to read and write. This new skill could open more job opportunities for her, but she is still limited. She spoke of the challenge of her children not receiving a quality education or any education at all. 


Her story has stuck with me. It is her story that has motivated me to commit to hiking 310+ miles this year. To hike the entirety of the Superior Hiking Trail while raising awareness for families similar to Diane’s. To encourage others to step into partnering with Rooted Oaks International as we empower families living in poverty in Rwanda. To encourage others to give their resources to help us open more doors for children and adults to gain quality education and job skills. To partner with more families so they can remove some of those stressful barriers poverty has placed on them. 


In April I will begin to tick off sections of the Superior Hiking Trail. I will be doing this journey alongside my mother. We have both dreamed of doing the entirety of this trail. We’ve done multiple sections over the year. This year, though, we are starting completely over. Starting at mile 0. We are starting with a different passion and drive. It isn’t just about us pursuing a hiking dream. It is so much more. 


We want to invite as many others into participating in this journey with us. 


You can learn how at https://givebutter.com/hike2empower.


Please join us in empowering lives of splendor!


-written by Anna LaCore, co-founder & USA director of Rooted Oaks International