In 2016, a group of Contiki Trip Managers and friends visited Africa, and what they saw there never left them. They were dismayed at how some of the locals they met had to walk up to 40km a day just to get clean water – a vital commodity that all of us take for granted.
As experienced Trip Managers, Aryan Taefi and Mike Mohrenberger were used to being the vanguard for Contiki Cares, encouraging young travellers to give something back and have a positive impact on local communities. So, when they discovered that around 14,000 children die every day due to unsafe water and unsanitary conditions, Aryan, Mike and their two friends Jimmy Hosking and John Massingham decided to do something about it.
The plan? Walk over 40 kilometres a day for a month – on a taxing, 1000 km hike from Sydney to Brisbane – to raise awareness and money for WALK4WATER, a not-for-profit organisation that builds clean water projects across the globe. On February 24th, 2017 the four friends set off on their quest. Awaiting them was a gruelling odyssey of rain, blisters, nudist houses, porn-star moustaches and lots and lots of ants. But 30 days later they left behind a truly remarkable, life-altering achievement.
Ironically enough, on their journey the team had to face up to the wettest March Australia had seen in 120 years, but they didn’t let that deter them. They were assisted in their relentless battle against the rain by the good people of the Australian East Coast, who offered them shelter, moral support and donations at every stage of their journey. According to Aryan, ‘the support we received along the way made those long slogs – fighting the rain, ants in our pants, sleeping on the floor of a 70 year old nudist house in Coffs harbour – all worth it.’
And the crew were pretty creative on how they encouraged donations, too. From walking 30km in flip-flops and a chaff-plagued John having to amble onwards in the style of a cowboy, to Mike memorably having to shave his moustache in this…flattering style.
These methods didn’t just raise laughs. Public reaction to the adventure was more rapturous than they guys could have dreamed of, and by the time the group reached Brisbane – drenched and exhausted – they had raised $15,456 USD, or $20,000 Australian dollars. That’s enough money to fund a project in Mali that should bring clean water to over 500 people.
Job done, right? Well, if you hadn’t already guessed by now, these aren’t the type of guys to rest on their laurels. They took their well deserved rest, and, once their blisters had healed and chaffing had subsided, thought they’d be foolish if they didn’t attempt yet another WALK4WATER adventure. So they assembled a group of people who were itching to get involved – including a large number of the Contiki crew – and posed the question: how can we possibly top that?
Well, it doesn’t get any bigger than Everest, so naturally they set that as the next adventure to be conquered. This year, on October the 21st, a crew of 11 – the self-described ’90’s boyband’ – are gearing up for the trek of a lifetime, setting off from Kathmandu. The goal? Raise another $20,000 and get another project off the ground, ultimately expanding WALK4WATER’s reach so they can make it bigger and better, year after year.
You can donate to this new adventure here. Anything you can give is a massive help, and 100% of the money raised will be used to build further clean water projects across the world.
We’re seriously inspired by what the guys have achieved and will achieve in the future with WALK4WATER. Contiki Cares is all about getting stuck in and having a positive impact, and this desire to give back is what our Me to We volunteering opportunities are all about.
So to Evan, Mike, Matt, Oliver, Henry, Damian, Aryan, Trent, Dan, Bob, Tim and Tom – we wish you good luck. May your journey remain unblighted by rain, ants, chaffing and nudist houses. We really hope you reach your goal.