Meet The Inspirational Man Who Walked Across The World For Charity
What began as a two-person, three-year journey from the UK to Australia on foot to raise awareness and funds for the charity Water Aid, turned into a one-man, five-year solo walk. In an attempt to finish what he started, British man Arjun Bhohal had to contend with loneliness, severely cold winters, inhospitable regions, hunger, jungles, deserts and even threats of being beheaded.
The Borderwalk project was thought up by Arjun and some friends during the last year at university after finding out about problems surrounding clean water access. The idea was to walk from Cardiff in South Wales, UK to Cardiff in New South Wales, Australia, and was inspired by the millions of people around the world that walk many miles on a daily basis to source clean and safe water for them, their families and communities.
The Issue – Access to Fresh Water for Everyone
1 in 3 people of the world's population do not have access to adequate sanitation, and hundreds of millions of people around the world have no access to clean, safe water.
WaterAid works with local partners to deliver clean water and toilets, promote good hygiene and campaigns to make change happen for everyone, everywhere.
If you would like to donate to this incredibly worthwhile and literally life-saving cause, please click on the link here
Life on the Road
Arjun’s journey was over 25,000 kilometres (16,000 miles). In total Arjun journeyed through 20 countries, ending with Australia in May 2017 where he crossed the Nullarbor, contending with the dangerously high summer temperatures.
As you can guess, the five years wasn’t easy, and he was continually problem solving.
“Every day reveals its own challenges and every day I’m pushed further and further away from my comfort zone. Whether it’s being taken in the middle of the night by seven men with AK47’s or suffering from dysentery in the Kazakh desert."
During his trip, Arjun was also joined by people he met along the way who wanted to experience Borderwalk first-hand, sometimes for a few days or a month.
“I’m aware that to many I just walked, but when you go through the journey for longer than a day or listen to the stories either from me or the blog, along the way it transcends just travelling by foot and becomes an internal battle of will, and in many ways a psychological journey rather than a physical one. The challenge is adapting to your surroundings and pushing the boundaries you thought you had.”
“A lot of people expect a story of adventure and laughs, and that was the case for a lot of my journey. But the truth is that in Kyrgyzstan I had already started to suffer from depression and at one point in India I had one of my lowest moments trying to deal with the anxiety of never knowing where I was sleeping every night and the overwhelming loneliness. In Indonesia, there was a slight dependency on painkillers because after four and a half years my body was finally breaking down. The mental scars from starving in the Kazakh Steppe had already taken effect. I was eating everything I saw, and the lack of sleep was making me a different person. I would become irritable, fast to anger and it would affect my relationships with friends and family when I could speak to them.”
“It’s lessons that I’ve learnt from situations along the way that the people who have joined me and I will carry far beyond just walking, whether it be their everyday struggle or the struggle of fighting for a cause they truly believe in.”
Acts of Kindness
Arjun admits that this journey would not have been possible were it not for the many people who helped him along the way.
“This Journey is one that has been stitched together by thousands of people from all over the world. Whether they have given me food, water or a place to sleep for the night, people have been generous with their time, money and home, all to help me make it to the end, one act of kindness at a time”.
In Russia, two men named Valentine and Alex drove nearly 1000 kilometres to have lunch with Arjun, while also paying for a place to stay for the night. Later, when Valentine found out via the blog that one of Arjun’s carts had broken, he handmade a new one and sent it out to Kazakhstan for Arjun to use.
In Poland, he and his friend were also taken off the street and invited into a christening and given cake and wine to take away with them after. When someone stole their belongings, Polish communities gathered together to not only find them but help him along the way through the country.
The idea of this trip was not only to raise awareness of the lack of access to clean water and to raise funds to help solve the problem. It was also to inspire people’s imaginations into taking on adventures of their own, no matter how big or small – doing away with the idea that you need to be someone special to achieve something special.
"Having a sense of humour about everything certainly has helped along the way. Being able to laugh at yourself and the ridiculousness of the situation helps, when you're alone, lost, tired, it’s getting dark and you're soaking wet.”
“Also re-adjust your idea of failure. It’s not a bad thing; it’s where you learn the most. Someone said it’s a good test of character to fail something in life at least once. I failed every day for five years.”
The Continuing Journey
Arjun has his own website and is always happy to share his extraordinary story and seeks to work together with companies to promote the same ideals that underpin the Borderwalk philosophy.
During the walk, Arjun gave talks in various countries around the world, talking about the charity WaterAid as well as Borderwalk. He spoke at universities, colleges, conferences and to groups such as the Scouts. He is now an active public speaker promoting issues such as clean water access and mental health and encouraging others to take up their own journeys.
Arjun is currently, at the encouragement of publishers, working over the next year on a book about the walk. If you’d like to get in contact with Arjun regarding speaking or workshop engagements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist. Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.