When I was a teacher, I was blessed enough to be able to lead two groups of teenagers through Namibia for a month and then Botswana/Zambia. Those expeditions carry me today, with memories of being back on my home continent, of the wild horizons that stretched forever, of the friends that I met along the way and the growth I saw in each and every soul I travelled with.
This morning I was reminded again of a story that I will carry with me forever. On the first expedition, there was a gentle soul. She had had all sorts of health issues as a child but was fast growing to be a strong woman with unbelievable tenacity. On the trek phase of the trip, each evening would see another student remove her backpack for her as she could no longer lift her own arms to do it. As they removed it, she would grin at what we had accomplished that day.
One evening, we decided on our camp space, removed bags and allowed our aching bodies to relax into the rocks on which we were perched. As our muscles unfolded, the boys had gone wandering – they found a slightly better place for the night. So up we all got, grabbing our various belongings and made our way over those final few meters. As we walked, this beautiful girl lost her footing and, with no strength left in her arms, landed full blow on her knees before we could get there. Needless to say, she couldn’t finish the trek. Full of unnecessary apologies, she and I left the pack the next morning and we waited at base camp for the rest to finish their journey.
A few days on, we headed out early to Dune 45 in Sesriem to see the sunrise. For various reasons, we didn’t make it and so headed back to do sunset instead. The girl was nervous, she didn’t know if she would make it to the top of the dune in time to see the sunset or down in time to get into the truck to hit the campsite before they locked the gates. So we made a pact. I would walk behind her. If she didn’t make it, I wouldn’t make it. She would make it for my sake and I would spur her on for hers…
It is still one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever shared with anyone.
She barely made it down the dune, but her smile radiated throughout the night.
Last night, the same beautiful soul walked through the night in London for charity, this time with her husband. She resisted the taxis, she trudged through the tears and she endured pain for those who aren’t so lucky. She completed it for her team of two and I am so proud.
The point of this post? Just an acknowledgement that I know so many heroes. For all of you on a heroic journey, may you too find the love to keep going for yourself, knowing you have an amazing team around you who will help you through your pain and revel in your successes.