Sarah's Husky Adventure!

This is an account written by AidCamps' supporter and volunteer, Sarah Drijfhout. In 2015 she tackled the King's trail in Northern Lapland, Sweden. She took on this tough, personal challenge in temperatures as low as -20C to continue her campaign to provide access to education for the children at RCDP's orphanage in Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal.

This is Sarah's account of her adventure in her own words.

"It was fitting that my first adventure after 6 years being a full time mother should involve mountains, animals and extreme cold.

As I set off on my Arctic husky mountain adventure, bound for the snow-filled heights of Northern Sweden I reminisced on the snow-capped adventures I had had 6 years earlier deep in the Himalaya on the Nepalese side of Everest, as I trekked towards Base Camp, accompanied from time to time by the country dwellers and their yaks passing along the route.

I had become acquainted with the beautiful country of Nepal when I first volunteered for an Independent project through AidCamps. In my first trip there I spent an unforgettable 3 weeks  learning Nepali, immersing myself in the culture and colours of Kathmandu, meeting elephants and observing wild rhino in the outstanding Chitwan valley, devouring copious bowls of dal bhat, and working alongside RCDP at the Rampur Rehabilitation Centre for children.

The children at this Centre receive shelter, decent meals and some access to education, coming there, as I was to learn, through differing circumstances. Now 6 years later I was completing a trail through the magnificent King's Trail in Sweden, reaching the highest point on the trail at the challenging Tjaktjakta pass heading towards Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain to raise money to help these children.

While working as a volunteer teacher in Rampur I had had the opportunity to get to know the bright, happy intelligent children there. Squatting on the floor in a communal hall they would all studiously finish their homework after a day sharing a cramped classroom, an assortment of ages, led by a teacher struggling to meet the needs of every individual. The bonds I built and the intelligence I saw in the behaviour and eyes of these special children deserved further exploration and I was to return another 3 times within the year to ensure at least some of them could get access to a better education. How? By setting up a fund which would pay for them to go to superior private schools in the area.

Rajkumar, Pratima and Kaushila, all around 11 years old at the time, were the first to begin, along with Surakshwa, just 4. Proudly they wore their new uniforms on the first day of their school adventure. It was obvious even then that Rajkumar and Pratima were academically very gifted, as they proved last year (2014/15) when they completed the Nepal School Leaving Certificate exam at 18 years old with distinctions. While Rajkumar hopes now to become an engineer, Pratima plans to become an Agriculture Officer in the future. How good it was to see that the girls at least had as good an access to education as the boys, in a culture where there are still striking disparities between the sexes.

 So it was appropriate that when I marked the end of an intense mothering chapter and a new somewhat freer period as a woman, with my son settled into school life, I would also plan an adventure similar to those I had before he was born. With a small ruck sack packed and my trusty Canadian goose feather jacket in tow ready for the -15 to -20 chill ahead I arrived in Stockholm in time to take the overnight train, a 17 hour journey to Kiruna, where I would meet the team, leader and our faithful dogs. With 4 hours to kill before our rendezvous for orientation I decided to sample something of the local fair and enjoyed a fine reindeer and linden berry lunch before touring the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi. This man-built seasonal crafted phenomenon features magnificent sculptures and entire rooms built from the crystal clear ice harvested from the local river.

Later that day I returned to Kiruna where the husky farm was located, housing some 100 plus dogs. These unbelievable personable and social dogs, a mix of Siberian husky and Alaskan husky, were ready to greet us with their fluffy cuddles and wet kisses. My team consisted of an English couple, a swiss German lady and a German man of 65, as well as our team leader Menno, who spends 3-4 months of the year in Sweden dog-sledding when he's not in Switzerland running his consulting business.

After an orientation meeting, a good meal, my first experience of seeing the mystical and spectacular Aurora Borealis, and a sound night's sleep we set off next day to Nikkoluokta where we would begin our trek. Over the coming 6 days we pushed and mushed our way over 160k of snowy, uninhabited mountain terrain and climbed to a height of 1140m, passing through the outposts of Singi, Salka and Alesjaure before returning to Nikkoluokta. Stunning snow scapes, an adventure through an arctic storm, and blissful saunas followed by a roll in the snow with only the mountains for company would leave lasting memories of this unforgettable adventure, and remind me of that Himalayan cultural feast I had enjoyed years before.

Thank you to all those who helped me raise funds."

Sarah is hoping to go on a new Arctic challenge in the Spring of 2016 and everyone at AidCamps International wishes her well on her next adventure!

If you have been inspired by Sarah's story then why not consider your own challenge and help raise funds for AidCamps, its partners and the communities we support. If you don't fancy the snow and ice of the Arctic Circle there are always AidCamps' adventures to be had in warmer climes on our Group projects!

Best wishes


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