Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dr. Deb Walters, Kayak for Safe Passage (Maine to Guatemala) visits NYC

Photo swiped from Dr. Walters' Safe Passage blog - love it!

Just taking a quick blog-break from work as I just realized (duh) that Dr. Walters' first event here on her NYC visit is TONIGHT, Thursday, September 18th, at the REI store in SoHo, with another tomorrow at the EMS (Eastern Mountain Supply) store in SoHo and then a 3rd at 10 a.m. Sunday morning at Sebago Canoe Club in Canarsie (yes, my Sebago, woohoo!). All 3 are open to the public. Full event details here, and that link is to a calendar that shows her planned schedule all the way through to Summer 2015, so if you're stumbling across this down the road because you heard she was coming to your area and wanted to see if she was speaking (or even better, if you want to arrange for her to speak), head on over there, the info you want may be there.

Dr. Walters is boating from Maine to Guatemala, mostly kayaking although for safety's sake she will be riding on a sailboat through a stretch off of the Mexican coastline where attacks on small craft are unfortunately a major risk, as a fundraiser for Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), an organization in Guatemala that works to benefit at-risk children and their families. The organization was founded by one woman, Hanley Denning, who had gone to Guatemala to learn Spanish in 1996 and instead found her life's calling there when a Guatemalan friend asked her to go on a visit to the slums near Guatemala City's garbage dump. Her efforts began with setting up a small school for children whose parents could not even afford to send them to public school, and then grew to include an early childhood center and literacy programs for adults. Sadly, Ms. Denning was killed in a car crash in 2007, but her efforts live on.

Dr. Walters is on the board of this organization and according to the website, her reasons for embarking on this 2,500 mile expedition are:

  • To tell the story of the children living in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
  • To share how inspiring the mothers are who labor with grit and perserverence for a better life for their children
  • To talk about the success of the Safe Passage model school that fosters critical thinking, self sufficiency and confidence.
  • To raise funds for additional grades for the school
A lot of the publicity focuses on her being a grandmother, which is cool, I bet her grandkids are all incredibly proud of their grandma - I'm also very impressed by the fact that she's a retired scientist; her bio doesn't say exactly when she earned her doctorate but it looks like it had to be late 60's or early, early 70's, when I think that a woman who'd chosen science as a profession was probably still running into masses of roadblocks set up by people who didn't want her there. She's also got one HECK of a paddling c.v. - makes my recent Waterford to NYC solo trip look pretty darned tame (well, it was pretty darned tame, that was kind of the whole point since this was my first ever solo multi-day camping trip, but still, we're talking, like, basket of week-old kittens tame here).

 To learn more about her expedition, click here, or visit her blog (link in the photo caption). 

2 comments:

Julie McCoy said...

I had the pleasure of paddling with Dr. Deb from Hunts Point on in to Pier 40. We took the scenic route down the Hudson :) She's very nice and her complete biography is amazing. Ask her about staying with local inuits on her multiple trips to the arctic.

bonnie said...

I saw that you got to paddle with her - I'm a little jealous! :D

Slightly torn about her presentations - I've got a bit of a cold and a ton of work that has to be done before the end of September (September is always like that), she's presenting at EMS tonight across the street from where I work, I may need to come in to work tomorrow and I really could use one day to myself -- if I go see her tonight then I could take Sunday (that would mean missing a Sebago general meeting but would give me one recuperation day at home).