Belgian mother on 1,000km barefoot walk for charity

Ilse and daughter taking the coastal roads on their 1,000 km journey from Barcelona to Gibraltar.
Ilse and daughter taking the coastal roads on their 1,000 km journey from Barcelona to Gibraltar. / SUR
  • Ilse Longuet has suffered blisters, cuts and excruciating cramps during her sponsored walk from Barcelona to Gibraltar

An energetic Belgian mother has embarked on a 1,000-kilometre barefoot hike in order to raise awareness of poverty in Kenya.

Ilse Longuet began her gruelling sponsored hike on 11 November. She decided to walk barefoot from Barcelona to Gibraltar to raise money for the underprivileged children in and around the Kibera slums of Nairobi in Kenya.

Ilse, 33, is accompanied on the journey by Helinah, her two year-old daughter.

Helinah is travelling in a traditional African 'Kitenge'; a cloth sling used by African women to carry their babies.

Besides carrying more than 8 kg of camping gear, Ilse also has the extra load of her daughter on her back.

Ilse has been walking between 10 and 15 kilometres every day and she anticipates that the journey will take approximately 100 days to complete.

There are no comfortable hotels or cosy guest houses; instead, Ilse and Helinah camp out on the land of generous well-wishers.

This way, every penny they raise will go to help the children in Kenya.

Besides raising funds, Ilse, who is a regular visitor to Kenya, intends to raise awareness of the fact that almost half of the population lives under the poverty line.

No shoes

She is appalled by the fact that the children have to walk barefoot to school along roads that are not paved. This is the reason she decided to embark on her journey without shoes.

The funds raised will be used to buy food, children's shoes and clothing. It will also supply water filters; an essential necessity in these poverty-stricken areas.

Once Ilse has completed her marathon trek, she will personally deliver the goods to Nairobi and the rural areas of Kenya.

At present, Ilse has about 250 kilometres of her journey to go, but it has not all been plain sailing.

She has experienced torrential rain and storms, trampled over stinging nettles and rock strewn mountain passes, and suffered from blisters, cuts and excruciating cramp.

However, she has not been deterred. She has recently passed Almeria and should arrive in Malaga within the next ten days. She will then have the rock of Gibraltar firmly in her sights.

For more information, see the Facebook page - The 1000 km barefoot walk.

Ilse updates the page each day so her sponsors can follow her journey.