I've been wandering about the wilds of Scotland for over three weeks and am enjoying the solitude, but I've not had any great philosophical insights. I've not discovered the meaning of life or 'found' myself. I have, however, a much greater understanding of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. His basic premise was that unless you have the basics sorted you cannot work on satisfying other needs. The basics being the physiological ones such as food and shelter.
At the end of every day my big concern is to find a place to camp so that I have shelter. Then my next thing is to get some food prepared. Only once those two things are sorted can I think about other things; reviewing the day, sorting out the photos I've taken that day, writing in my diary, checking whether I have a mobile signal, checking emails and posting to Facebook if I do. Perhaps mobile signal and wifi should be added to Maslow's hierarchy.
I try and find a camping place beside a stream, river or loch so that I have water to cook and wash with. This trip has really illustrated how important clean water is and how in our normal lives we take it for granted. I have a water bottle with a special filter that removes all the 'nasties' from stream water and as it rains a lot in Scotland I can always find water. I have a small camping stove so I can boil water for cooking so it is sterilised.
All over Scotland I've seen evidence of the massive investment in the past and currently to ensure people have ample clean water to drink. I've seen Victorian aqueducts carrying water to Glasgow, modern pipe-laying equipment being used in the Cairngorms and all sorts of other water works. It is probably because of this massive, mostly unseen, investment that we take clean water for granted.
Water is a big focus for me on this trip, but it is not a problem because it is readily available and I have the means to purify it. I now appreciate more the struggle and problems that people without easy access to clean water face.
Shelter, water and food are three of the six elements of COCO's Schools for Life programme. Children attending one of COCO's partner schools have safe buildings in which to study and dormitories to stay in overnight. The programme also ensures access to clean drinking water and nutritious food, which greatly improves health and so school attendance, and gives the children the energy they need to learn. Without meeting these basic needs children are unable to make the most of the quality education which COCO's Schools for Life programme offers through the remaining three elements: power, sport and recreation, and entrepreneurship.