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Challenge accepted: Trekking in Peru

Sarah Baillie attended a breakfast event for businesses last year at which Graham Philpott, Director of our partner organization Church Land Programme in South Africa, described their work.

Inspired by what she had heard, Sarah set herself a challenge to raise funds for the work of Christian Aid. In this blog she describes her motivation, her training and her feelings about what lies ahead!

Tax of Life Report


The seed was planted over a year ago when I attended a talk by Christian Aid organised through my work.  We were informed about how Christian Aid support people in South Africa, which, being the country where I was born, is a subject close to my heart. 


Quite separately I was contemplating pushing myself into a physical challenge and doing something different in 2016.

The two came together when I found Charity Challenge website on the internet, a company which facilitates challenges in various countries for people who want to raise money for their chosen charity.


The Inca Trail

To be honest, the fundraising daunted me more than the the training.

I opted to raise £3,700, some of which will go towards my travel costs. Having never done any fundraising before I felt overwhelmed with the task ahead.

Reassured by church members in a 'Hearts and Hands' evening that 'the money would come', the very next day, I signed up for the Inca trail.

That was it, the decision was made and I was committed.  


What lies ahead

The challenge begins with four flights to the Peruvian Andes in late September.

I will join 10-14 other members of the group in Heathrow, all of who are unknown to me, and who will have chosen their own charities to support.

One of the biggest obstacles for us will be the altitude. In our trek we will reach 4600 metres above sea level.

After about 3000 metres, the body suffers altitude sickness, which can sometimes be severe and prevent one going any higher.

I won't know how my body will react until I get there. We will climatise in the Peruvian Andes for a day and a half before setting off on the hike.

The trek itself is a four day hike, with walking up to 9 hours a day and finishing up at Machu Picchu. The pace will be slow due to the lack of oxygen, but the path will be steep and not for the faint hearted.

We will camp out at night with limited toilet facilities. During the day, the weather should be pleasant with temperatures falling to sub-zero at night.

We have been given an equipment list to ensure we purchase the correct gear.



To date I have been enjoying my training, which has mostly been walking in the Mournes. 

In June, I entered a 26 mile Mourne walk from Donard Park, Newcastle to Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor. It took 7.5 hours and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I am beginning to feel very fit and prepared, however there is no training to prepare for the altitude, and that remains a concern. 



Tax of Life Report

I have been completely overwhelmed and touched by people's generosity and support.

My mum, along with many other helpful church members, put on a successful coffee morning in May.

The church hall looked amazing and was a real buzz and a sense of enjoyment.  Over £700 was raised and I am very grateful to everyone who contributed to this event.

This adventure has given me the opportunity to get to know some church members better and to appreciate being part of a wonderful church community at Ballyholme.

You will hear from me again after the trek to let you know how it went.

I'm excited now to get going!

You are welcome to view my Just Giving page for updates in the meantime.


We wish Sarah all the very best with her training and for the trek, and look forward to hearing about her adventure in Peru!

If you are interested in taking up a similar challenge and would like more information, please contact Sarah Leeman by emailing sleeman@christian-aid.org.

Photo credits: Scott-Heatley Marketing

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