In the ultimate support for our official charity of the year SAFE@LAST, our Immediate Past President Dan Senter and I joined a team of 27 brave volunteers to trek across the sahara desert to raise funds for the charity from 8th-15th November 2014.
SAFE@LAST works with children and young people aged 16 years and under who are at risk through running away in Sheffield and across South Yorkshire.
When I made the decision to sign up for the trek back in April 2013 which now seems a life time away, it was because of my involvement with JCI and being surrounded by supportive, enthusiastic people that I believed I could actually put myself through this challenge of a life time and survive! JCI is all about learning by doing and trying new things that push you outside of your comfort zones, and boy did this trip do just that!
The week was absolutely amazing, challenging, humbling and difficult all rolled into one! Some of the days we trekked for up to 9 hours across mixed terrain from rocks which hurt your feet, to sand dunes that completely zapped your energy walking up and down them in the fine sand.
One of my main reflections on the week is how my head completely emptied for the trip of all stresses and worries from the every day life as our sole thought and concentration was on walking step by step and completing this challenge! I even thought of a number of topics and issues that I could have spend some well needed thinking time on whilst crossing the desert but they just went out of my head as we kept plodding on each day! This meant that sleeping was an absolute breeze and we often went to bed about 7:30pm at night so we must have needed the rest!
One of the hardest parts of the experience was to cope without home comforts of a shower and toilet that we just take for granted. I was surprised with how quickly we got use to negotiating the hole in the sand that was to be our bathroom for the week!
Everyone on the trip was so supportive of each other, encouraging each person especially when they had their difficult moments, offering compede blister plasters to ease poorly feet and ultimately the sense of camaraderie as we were all in it together for such a special cause.
We are absolutely delighted that we have now smashed our 2014 SAFE@LAST challenge to raise at least £1007 for the charity and to donate 1007 volunteering hours to support their work.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this trip and also to all those who have helped JCI Sheffield achieve their 2014 Challenge!
2014 Deputy President
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Mark Smith