Rachel vs. Kilimanjaro

"WOAH?! What’s this?!" I hear you say. "Rachel wrote a Man vs Steel fan fiction remix featuring herself as a superhero fighting an evil supervillain called Kilin-man-jaro?! #epic"

Almost. 5 points for trying. Drum roll please:

I believe that young people in our care system should have hope in their future so in just under 2 months I’ll be undertaking the hardest mental and physical challenge of my life and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Refugee Support Network!

Forget Man vs food or Man vs wild. This is way more serious - Rachel vs. Kilimanjaro.

Refugee Support Network (RSN) do an amazing job supporting teenage refugees and survivors of trafficking, who have ended up in the UK, to build more hopeful futures through education. I’ve been volunteering with them for almost a year and a half and have seen first-hand the difference their work makes.

I'll be spending 8 days trekking up and then down, the 19,341ft of the highest free standing mountain in the world. I’ll be camping on the mountain with no running water, flushable toilets or wi-fi (gulp!). Because of the altitude I’ll potentially be battling shortness of breathe, nausea, headaches, lack of appetite and fatigue (altitude sickness is apparently no joke y’all). You see all these pictures of people grimacing smiling on the summit?

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They’re all pretty much exhausted, freezing cold, have headaches and want to throw up.

And I want to be one of them.

Why?! I hear you ask (8 years later and those mind reading psychology degree lectures and mountain of student debt is still proving value for money).

First. Because I believe young people who have had to flee their family and home or been trafficked should have hope in their future restored. Living without hope is a desperate place.

I also believe education is important. Having worked in a school I have seen the importance of qualifications and the options it creates for a better future.

Second. All my other methods at getting legs like Beyoncé have failed (squats, kettlebells class, learning all the moves for single ladies, perfecting my crazy in love walk, vegan challenge. Holla at me Beehive - we’ve all been there). Also, I love a challenge. At least, I love a challenge as long as it’s one I choose, with defined boundaries and safety nets, and having done my research am confident that with some hard work I can complete.

Finally, I have come to the sad realisation that in the same way my hogwarts letter is not arriving any time soon, it's unlikely Gandalf will be knocking on my door sending me on a mission across Middle Earth any time soon. So rather than wait for adventure to come knocking I’m embarking on my own.

Many of the young people RSN work with have ended up in the UK by themselves, they live in foster care or semi-supported housing. Through mentorship and educational programmes RSN helps these young people adjust to life in the UK and engage in their education as they battle the immigration system and life in a completely new country without any support networks from family and friends. As a volunteer mentor with RSN I have seen the challenges young refugees face and their resilience in overcoming them. My mentee couldn’t speak much English before she had to come to the UK just over 2 years ago. She now has a full timetable of GCSE’s, BTEC and AS Levels. She did want to be a Maths teacher, but now she’s thinking about studying Medicine.

Want to help revive hope in young people and cheer me on my way up the mountain? You can sponsor me here.

£24 Could fund a specialist educational advice session for two young people

£50 Could pay for a training session for 15 new mentors

I have set a scarily huge target of £2000. Anything you are able to donate would be amazing!

I am covering the cost of the trip so all funds raised will go directly to RSN. Yeh, so I could just donate the cost of the climb myself, stay at home and eat cake, but where’s the fun/blood, sweat and tears in that?

International friends you can also donate here too.

I am super excited. And super scared. I am totally expecting to be half way up a mountain crying for my mother because I have extreme diarrhoea, ate all my good snacks and still have 5 days hiking up a mountain to go. But I’m telling myself “I will be fine.” And I'm sure I will be.

In every adventure it’s good to have a sidekick/wing (wo)man who’s crazy enough to go with you, hold your hand when you’re scared and laugh at/with you whilst you cry. I’m so thankful for friends like Kitch who sign up to adventure too.

Our burger/carb-loading game is strong
Our burger/carb-loading game is strong

Want to hear all about it?  Over the next few weeks I’ll be updating my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with training adventures (remind me to tell you the one about the parrots), general preparing to climb a mountain shenanigans, and of course the trek itself!

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Want to come too? The more the merrier. There’s still a few spaces so give me a shout and I’ll pass on details etc.

Just incase you missed it  - link to donate here. Thank you wonderful people!

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