The Tremendous Trek

Elaine Kam, HSBC Canada

How HSBC Employees Raised $315K USD for WaterAid

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 individuals at HSBC, the international bank where I work.

In August 2018, 99 HSBC employees 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 employees 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.  

Safe Water

I first learnt about WaterAid’s work through the HSBC Water Program, how 1 in 9 people in the world do not have safe 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 safe 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 safe 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.  From the 99 HSBC employees of 23 countries who participated in the 100km trek in Greenland, we collectively raised $315,000 USD for WaterAid.  I am so proud to have been part of this amazing team pulling together for an important cause!

Elaine Kam, HSBC Canada