Could you spend three days “In Her Shoes” for Sudan?

Could you spend three days “In Her Shoes” for Sudan?

By Meredith Walker, member of ONE Girls and Women Advisory Board and co-founder of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls

In Sudan, women do the heavy lifting of daily life.

On a regular day, they walk many miles to retrieve water and firewood. The rest of the time they cook meals for their families, hand wash clothes and tend to their homes. By helping the women of this culture, or any place there is poverty, the whole society is lifted. That is why I am participating in Circle of Health International’s (COHI) “In Her Shoes” awareness campaign.

At Smart Girls, we like to walk the walk as much as we can. I realize that I am not at a point where I can travel to Sudan and live with the strong women there to spend a day in their shoes, but COHI offered me a way to learn more. A small way—but it can pack a punch.

For three days, I adhered to the same food limitations most Sudanese women experience. I ate their daily diet (for the most part).


Photo credit: Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls


I was fueled by enthusiasm. I was glad to be doing this with a well-respected organization, COHI—and I was in good company. The people of COHI are out there in the field doing the day-to-day work. They travel on very low budgets to get assistance to the people who need it, focusing on mothers and their children. People at COHI are participating in this challenge, as well. We were in contact and checking in with each other along the way.


This day felt very long. I knew I was in the middle and I knew I had only one more day to go, but time crept by slowly. I was cranky. I was tired. By the end of the day, I was an emotional lump. How do women in Sudan fetch water, collect wood, carry their children, and feed their families with this little amount of nutrition? I was able to put my feet up and tell my co-participants how sad and hungry I felt—and I knew how privileged I was—how privileged I always am. Guilt, awareness, hunger, fatigue, and a little shame…it was all feeling heavy. After a while, I got pretty liberal with my definition of “a handful of peanuts”—in a court of law I think it would be considered cheating.


As the day went on, I really wasn’t fun to be around. I had a lunch meeting and sipped water the whole time. I lost my train of thought. I was not able to pay attention. I felt dizzy. I just wanted to go home and lie down. Whenever that thought occurred to me, I’d think about the woman I had in mind, Zaida. A 31-year-old Sudanese woman who travels frequently to villages to provide care to rural pregnant women, she is a nurse midwife in the midst of the Sudan civil war. So, get it together, Walker.

A Sudanese woman doing the traditional baking, or kisra. Photo credit: Mohamed Elfatih Hamadien/Creative Commons

A Sudanese woman baking kisra, a traditional bread. Photo credit: Mohamed Elfatih Hamadien/Creative Commons


Every penny raised is going to help get food in mouths. Every moment I abstained from the food I normally eat was worth it because I had to step away from my normal food intake and feel what it feels like to not have what I want every single second. Because of that, I was even more determined to help. I donated to the cause. My family and loved ones donated, and lovely people who believe in the mission of Smart Girls donated.

Smart Girls always talks about participating instead of standing on the sidelines “commenting” and judging the work of others who are willing to roll up their sleeves and try to help. Our efforts—no matter how small—make a difference. It is the old story of something being a drop in the bucket: a drop in the bucket is still better than an empty bucket. More importantly, enough drops added up will fill up the bucket. I have written this before: I have a computer and Smart Girls has a community. We are in a position to report that help is happening and to offer what we can to others who have far less.

If you are like most of the Smart Girls community and you are moved by stories of human hardship and know that we have no choice when it comes to where we were born and you want to help — I have promising news for you: we can!

I call on all Smart Girls everywhere to do whatever they can RIGHT NOW to alleviate the suffering of another. Every time we do this, we change the world by being ourselves. By being our best selves.

Check out the whole campaign with COHI on Twitter.

This post originally appeared in full on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls on September 18, 2015. Learn how you can support Meredith Walker’s “In Her Shoes” campaign here.

Learn about Global Goal #2: Zero Hunger, and find out how you can do more today!


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