They say the third time’s a charm, and I certainly hoped as much as I departed on my third outing to Mount Kilimanjaro for the March 2012 Blood, Sweat and Compassion challenge.
Accompanied by 29 intrepid adventurers all excitedly (and perhaps somewhat nervously) assembled to visit and support Compassion’s work in Kenya, we set off from London Heathrow for the March 2012 Kilimanjaro Challenge.
The mountain was momentarily moved to the periphery of our thoughts as we spent the first day visiting mothers and young children benefitting from Compassion’s Child Survival Programme; and then meeting the Leadership Development Programme students who we had all been raising funds to support. It was a moving and inspirational day that provided additional motivation for the challenge ahead as we travelled on to Tanzania.
With reports of inclement weather filtering through, Mount Kilimanjaro burst into view and filled more of the windscreen with every passing minute. The usually snow-capped summit was far more than just capped – it was a picture of unadulterated white. Undeterred, and indeed buoyed by the mountain’s splendour, we set off the following morning on our six-day trek.
Bathed in sunshine and temperatures in excess of 34°C for the first two days, it came as quite a shock when the heavens opened with rain, thunder and lightening for the duration of our second night on the mountain. The result the following day was a damp and foggy trek through the clouds, and an unexpected and extremely premature introduction to snow – two days early to be exact!
Concerned that our progress could be severely hindered if the height of the snow continued to increase over the days ahead, I was reminded to put my faith in God: “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24)
Our prayers were answered the following day as the clouds cleared and the sunshine once again returned. We were treated to incredible views of the peak ahead and Tanzania below as we continued our approach. More importantly, the snow’s height remained consistent and manageable as we gained altitude all the way to the summit.
The final ascent climb was unquestionably a more challenging version of what is already a considerable test. However, our amazing team were strengthened by our faith, united by each other’s encouragement and company, and we were duly rewarded with truly unforgettable views and a sense of achievement that is both indescribable and unbeatable.
The following morning we were reminded what our endeavours had all been about as we visited one of Compassion’s Child Development Sponsorship Projects in Arusha. To see so many children being equipped for a brighter future, filled with joy, hope and happiness as a result of being sponsored, is something that will remain with us all forever.
As the sun set metaphorically on our time in Kenya and Tanzania, we were treated to a beautiful and literal sunset across the Kenyan Maasai Mara en route to Nairobi airport to catch our return flight home. It truly was ten days that changed our lives, and I can confirm that the third time absolutely was a charm. Indeed, I look forward to the fourth!
We have two more Blood, Sweat and Compassion trips planned for October this year and February 2013. Click here to express your interest in taking part in these trips.
Written By Ben Hamilton, Director of RightFoot, a partner of Compassion UK