I Gotta Walk and (Don’t) Look Back

Maurice Bloem | May 4, 2013

I have received a lot of likes on the picture taken by Matt Hackworth where you see me walking on the road from Concord to Pittsburg. However, the reality was much less idyllic than the picture shows. I didn’t have a lot of space to walk and cars were passing me with high speed. I didn’t have a lot of space trying to get away from those cars as either the side was mud or there were carcasses of snakes, dogs and other creatures. The road was steep and, since that day, I was not able to walk without several painkillers.

The following day I was saved by Angela Boss from Foods Resource Bank who is really a good walker and I only needed to follow her. She was awesome. All went well, thanks to the painkillers, until Thursday afternoon. On Thursday morning I was accompanied by Suzan Bateson, Theon Johnson III, Kate Merk, Charlie Ramsden and Joan Safrita to Suzan’s Alameda Community County Food Bank and everything went reasonably well until I left them and I had to walk alone to the Peace Center in Oakland. Not only did my right shin/ankle hurt again, but also both my feet were not cooperating anymore….

I said to myself that many women and girls in Africa need to walk 5-10 miles every day to collect water. I tried to say to myself that I should not make such a big deal about a “little bit” of pain…, but it didn’t help a lot. I was hardly able to put one foot in front of the other…

When I finally reached the Oakland Peace Center, Sandhya Rani Jha was not there, but Allen received me. While he talked to me, I saw a tall, skinny girl around 11 years old trying to lift up a box of food. I offered to help her, lifted the box for her and before I knew it I was in the middle of a room full of food, talking to Belinda Gilchrist Day. I had felt the pain in my ankle and feet on the stairs bringing me down, but something drew me to one of the two rooms of the Project Darreis.

Belinda told me the story about her son, Darreis, who was murdered on July 29, 2006. Her son was known for his giving, sharing and spreading love. He brought hungry people home and fed them. After a vision (a type of story that I had never heard in the U.S. or Europe, but often in Asia), she decided to honor the memory of her son through a project based on how her son approached life: through giving. Underneath her enormous spirit, you can still feel the pain of the loss of her son. It made me ashamed of complaining about the pain in my shin.

The last stretch of my 100-mile walk was an incredible experience as I really had the feeling that many parts of the world were following me. When I posted a pic of the pedometer on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, I almost received realtime “likes.” I didn’t feel pain anymore and I floated from one side of the Golden Gate Bridge to the other. After the bridge I finished my 100-mile Walk in the Fort Mason Green where Matt (who has been incredible the whole week) was ready to do the last shoot of the 100-mile Walk.

After the interview, I immediately called my wife who had been so supportive from the beginning and with whom I wished I had done the whole Walk. It might sound cheesy, but this trip has been so amazing. I was fortunate to meet volunteers, board members, (potential) donors, food bank directors and clients. The experience was amazing but would have been even better if I could have done the Walk with her. I feel great and I hope the trip, blogs and videos will inspire others to do something about hunger and malnutrition as well. I actually would love to Walk 100 miles next year again, but then at the same time with others in places like Amsterdam, Jakarta, Nairobi and Mendoza. And what do you think? I have already received emails from Haiti, Colorado and Jakarta telling that they are ready for it and that’s exciting.

Maurice Bloem, Executive Vice President, CWS