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Stepping up for kids

17 September 2019, Action for Change

40 trekkers took 210,000 steps in the highlands of Ethiopia to help raise funds for children

Ras Dashen is the highest mountain in Ethiopia and the fifth highest peak in Africa. 

It’s rugged, wild and breathtakingly beautiful terrain. One reviewer describes the region as “a dizzyingly precipitous bombardment of beauty in the form of flora, fauna, people & scenery!” 

In March this year, Karyn Lister joined 39 other trekkers from 25 countries to tackle the ascent on behalf of Trek for Kids – a global fundraising initiative of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Save The Children. 

Karyn describes the trek as the most physically and mentally challenging experiences she’s ever encountered. 

“We camped for six nights and walked a total of 143 km in seven days at an altitude of 2,600 to 4,550 metres. I did suffer some effects of altitude sickness but thankfully we had a fantastic medical team with us for the trek. And fortunately, my body started to acclimatise.”

Ras Dashen is no walk in the park. Karyn trained for seven months prior to the climb but at times wondered if she’d done enough. 

“The day before our summit climb we had a gruelling hike of 30km into camp. It was like an oven in the air and the heat radiated off the ground and the rocks.

“We had a few hours’ sleep and then left at 3am to ensure we could make it to the summit. After nine hours of hiking and ascending from 3,170m to 4,550m, all 40 trekkers reached the peak. The realisation that we had made it to the top was euphoric.”

Collectively, the trekkers raised more than $400,000 for Save the Children which will be matched dollar for dollar by GSK. Enough to make sure that Save the Children’s vaccination program in Ethiopia can continue for another two years. 

Following the trek, the group visited remote communities to see the impact of the money they raised. Growth through Nutrition is a food, water, sanitation and hygiene project which aims to improve the nutritional status of women and young children. 

“We’d been told to expect to see things that might be upsetting,” one trekker said. “But it was actually very uplifting. It was very assuring to see that the work we do, and the money we raised, and the people who trusted us will be put to good use.”

In Ethiopia, GSK and Save the Children have:

  • Contributed to the vaccination of 12,517 children under one and 18,276 women of reproductive age.  

  • Trained 243 Health Workers in promoting and delivering immunisation services.

  • Engaged 210 religious/clan leaders and 80 teachers, on the promotion of routine immunisation of children and women of reproductive age in their communities.

  • Trained 162 Community Volunteers in providing health education to 17,100 people with the correct information on vaccinations on immunisations.

Image: Karyn Lister/Save the Children

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