1 October, 2016
We have raised about,
(We are still finalizing the actual amount)
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Scroll down to read about the update on the recent 400 km hike!!
Not sure how much to donate? Perhaps you could consider donating a small monthly amount for each of the 400 km hiked, or simply donate a once off amount. Every Rand is highly appreciated!
400 km Completed in 19 Days!
As I sit and contemplate our hike, my first response is that it was not a hike but rather an expedition. From the farmer who told us that the route we had followed, which he exclaimed was impossible to do (and we all nodded in agreement), to the knowledge that we had crossed 7 mountain ranges, it was clear that what we had done required a different verb. Yes, I know ‘expedition' is not a verb but it certainly felt like one… Bashing our way through head high reeds whilst crossing the river numerous times, slipping and sliding over slate underfoot whilst trying to move straight down numerous mountains, digging deep to push yet another 10 kms straight uphill and getting lost at Kouenek whilst sopping wet with darkness looming, were simply some of the daily activities we faced that quickly banished any illusion of a ‘happy hike’. We were quick to replace this misleading verb!
However, what we quickly realized was that whilst the conditions were mostly onerous, it was layered with a doctor on tap including great company, a piping hot supper cooked, often served in the rain, and a back up team that erected and dismantled our tents daily. More importantly, we knew that this was a three week sojourn and that we, in time, would be returning to the comfort of our homes. The same cannot be said for the millions of South Africans whose daily life mirrors many of the challenges we faced. Further to those already mentioned, the challenges of small living spaces that need to accommodate more than two people, no hot or even running water, no electricity to charge phones and certainly no delicious suppers cooked by another are a reality of their daily lives. The long walks in the rain to taxi and bus stations and the constant concern for the safety of one’s family are further challenges that add to an already fraught situation.
Knowing that our ‘indulgence’ was in fact the reality of many gave cause for reflection that, from my nice warm bed (far from the lived reality of many), we are able to hide from this awareness. Living as we did made this impossible. As a consequence, I developed deep insight into the difficulty many must experience in holding a family together under such trying circumstances. A teenager, going slowly off the rails, would simply have gone unnoticed in those circumstances. A medical emergency in the middle of the night would simply be impossible to resolve as would most other family emergencies. The feelings of desperation that arose when we looked to another steep climb must be the constant frame of mind for many of our fellow South Africans. Holding some semblance of an infrastructure together under these circumstances would be about as much as anyone could do and to take emotional care of a family on top of that must often be a bridge too far. I certainly found that reaching out to others was near impossible when I had to spend so much time holding myself together.
These reflections gave me further fuel to continue raising money for the RBPS Vuleka Trust. The desperation I felt though, as a result of these reflections, were tempered by the knowledge that there are many, many South Africans, here and abroad, that are actively working to change the lives of others. Every step we took helped shift the felt reality of our reflections and it became obvious that doing something, anything, is the only way to live in a society where such disparity exists. It neutralizes the helplessness we often feel and is, in fact, enormously empowering. No wonder science tells us that volunteering is a key ingredient for happiness.
So to all of you who so generously supported us, whether by kind deed, money, messages and calls, thank you. It was great to hear my cellphone ping as we suddenly hit a signal and curling up in a sleeping bag to read them. It was joyful indeed. Our fundraising continues as we now enter the Argus period as well as the Two Oceans. We are holding a strategy session mid October to look at how we take the RBPS Vuleka Trust to its next level of growth, supporting our vision of a boy in each class in each grade.
Regards Helen During
For Your Information!
UPDATE: Jo-Anne, Helen, Debbie and Lisa were nestled in the valley in a place called Kouenek and it was freezing. It's a beautiful camp site - surrounded by all sorts wildlife including wildcat and spoor of jackal.
Once in camp there is a mad dash to have a bucket bath before it's too cold. The tent floors are always uneven and bumpy - so they are either sleeping downhill or uphill or very contorted! Everyone is having to practice 'compassionate collaboration' as there are very bad blisters or various other injury's within all the hikers involved.
UPDATE: Over the past couple of days the group have been deep in the Baviaanskloof, with amazing reserves full of wildlife - lots of fresh leopard spoor and buffalo. Long hard days - 20/ 27 kms per day over the last 3 or so days. The waterways are sparkling clean and they can drink and swim in them - they have all jumped in and swum. No inhibitions after 12 days - down to bras and panties and in everyone goes! "Can hear the baboons fight as I write and I can hear the blue cranes that soar overhead." (-Helen). The four have gotten so used to bucket baths and long drops!! It seems as though it has become such an uncomplicated space to live in - just day to day, pack up, hike 2 hours then have a tea break, hike another hour and enjoy lunch sprawled under a tree and then a long hike hike until they get to their next camp site.
There are many with very sore feet, terrible blisters but yet they all just plough on. People are really digging deep and finding resources they never knew they had. Especially those that started a bit unfit! There are such tough moments but there are moments of great hilarity too - there is such a mixed group and there are some real characters! There is also have an awesome back up team - a great cook , a logistics guy who sets up the tents, long drops and makeshift showers. We also have one of the only unimogs in SA which helps transfer baggage, supply's power for cellphones and camera charging and some warm water.
UPDATE: Hard few days - the four walked 28km yesterday (17th September 2016) in pouring rain and into a rain drenched camp - no hot bucket baths just a tent that is dryish but have to wake up with wet sleeping bags in the morning! Beautiful day today with a cold wind - climbing equivalent Table Mountain - no paths at all - all bush bashing! There was an irritated landowner who was threatening to shoot the group! He denied us entry onto his property! Hmm!
"Hard long days and tired but so glad we know what we can do if we are pushed. Us Girls are so glad to have each other - lots of desperate giggles!"
Our nifty toilet role holder that is created at every camp site situated right next to our long drop!