Climbing Kili for Kids

I have always loved the outdoors, I think it comes from growing up in the countryside. I was brought up with the idea that adventure was right outside my front door and spent most of my time as a child running around my local village clambering up hills and hiding in trees. I also have a passion for travel and love discovering cultures around the world. So naturally when the opportunity came up for me to travel to Tanzania and climb Mount Kilimanjaro for children’s charity Childreach International I, of course, found myself leading a team of ten on one amazing adventure.

This was my third trip with Childreach International, having spent time in Morocco with them the two summers previous. I think the reason I keep going back to them is because they offer once in a life time experiences while also providing the opportunity to help children, through fundraising. They work in seven countries around the world, including the UK, focusing mainly on teaching children about their human rights through proper access to education. Childreach International run a number of challenge events in the countries in which they work which meant that we also got to visit a school in Tanzania that was supported by the Childreach and fundraising we had been working on all year.

My team from Aberdeen were paired up with another from London, as a team of twenty-three we raised £72,363.10 in total - all for Childreach International! I could not have asked for a better group of people to climb with, everyone was so supportive and we kept each other going through the altitude sickness, exhaustion and everything in between.

I knew this was not going to be an easy challenge but nothing prepared me for how hard it actually was. I consider myself to be at an average fitness level and I had done some training beforehand; climbing my local munro Bennachie a number of times, running twice a week and I even started kickboxing, but none of this could have prepared me for the physical exhaustion that came each night when I climbed into my tent. I am proud to say that I did make it to summit at 7:30am on Friday the 11th and it was truly one of the best feelings in the world - to stand on what felt like the top of world!

Kilimanjaro is not for the faint hearted but it is definitely the experience of a life time and any hill walker’s ultimate challenge. I owe a lot to the amazing guides and porters who made the trip possible - I would never have made it to the top without their help, and of course to my team; we all believed in each other and it kept me going!

If you would like to read a more detailed version of the trip please click here.

Aileen MacAlister

Laurie Crayston