In August, 100 brave individuals trekked 100 kilometres across Greenland to raise money for WaterAid. One of the trekkers, Elaine Kam, based in Canada, has shared her incredible Arctic Challenge story with us.  

What would you say to the idea of being dropped off on a remote island and having to trek 100 km in the wild, carrying all your supplies to get back to civilization? I said yes to this crazy but incredible opportunity to raise funds and awareness for WaterAid - and so did 98 other volunteers at HSBC, the international bank where I work.

In August 2018, 100 individuals trekked 100 km in Greenland to fundraise for WaterAid. This is my third fundraising trek in 5 years. Together with the last two events, I raised over $17,000 USD for WaterAid.


This trip is a grassroots initiative organized within HSBC that connected a group of HSBC employees worldwide who shared a common purpose: to challenge ourselves and fundraise for WaterAid.  I am fortunate to have been involved with three of these initiatives.  The prior two treks I did were a 100km trek in the Sahara Desert in Morocco in 2013, and a 100 km trek in the Gobi Deseret in Mongolia in 2016. Both involved 100 employees worldwide who fundraised for WaterAid. 

Greenland Trek

Our group of 99 HSBC volunteers from 23 countries set off on the Arctic Circle Trail in August 2018 and we were joined by Marcus Missen from WaterAid.  100 km up and down four mountains and crossing ten rivers while carrying a heavy backpack proved to be extremely hard, and required all of us to dig deep.  While we trekked in our own soaking boots and aching bodies amidst rain or swamps of mosquitos, we supported and motivated each other along the way. Together, we surpassed our own individual physical and mental limits and completed the trek as one strong team.  

Clean Water

I first learnt about WaterAid’s work through the HSBC Water Programme, how 1 in 9 people in the world do not have clean water close to home, and 1 in 3 people do not have proper toilets.  During the trek, we slept in tents, collected water from streams and had no proper toilets.  After five days in the wild, I felt pure joy arriving back where clean water and toilets are part of our normal lives.  Unfortunately for many, the lack of clean water and sanitation is a constant daily struggle.  This brief first-hand experience on the trek gave me a deeper understanding of how important and urgent WaterAid’s work is, and how clean water can truly transform lives.   

I am incredibly grateful for my friends, family and colleagues – who gave valuable advice, encouragement, and generous donations to WaterAid.  We collectively raised $313,000 USD for WaterAid.  I am so proud to have been part of this amazing team pulling together for an important cause!

Elaine Kam

Over the past five years, WaterAid and HSBC have worked together to transform lives in six countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria. Together, we have reached 1.65 million people with clean water and 2.5 million people with sanitation and hygiene. The work funded by HSBC Water Programme allows communities to build skills, increase their productivity and future-proof economies of the regions they live in. Find out more about WaterAid’s work in partnership with HSBC.

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