As part of Christian Aid Week 2018, we challenged our supporters to an abseil down Belfast Castle. On Saturday, April 14th, 36 adventurous people along with Northern Ireland's MMA world champion, Leah McCourt and Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland, Rosamond Bennett, descended down the famous landmark.
One of those was a young scout from the 62nd Belfast Scout Troop, Lewis Doherty. At 12 he was our youngest participant.
Here, he tells us about his experience from the day and why he took part.
My name is Lewis Doherty and I am a member of the 62nd Belfast Scout Troop. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my granny who has been a Christian Aid rep for our Church, Newtownbreda Presbyterian in Belfast. She told me about an event Christian Aid was holding to raise money for the people of Haiti.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. After the devastating earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, thousands of families were displaced or left homeless. I read about people like Jocelyne. Jocelyne lost her home and her safety in Hurricane Matthew. It’s over a year later, but she’s still fighting the after effects of the disaster. Since the hurricane, Jocelyn is living in a makeshift home, with only a tarpaulin as shelter.
When the wind shook the tarpaulin it sounded like another hurricane and all her fear came back. “You feel as though you’re not really living when you don’t have a home,” she said. Christian Aid is working with local partner organisations to make sure people like Jocelyne can build a better and more hopeful future. And with help, they can!
Christian Aid was holding a sponsored abseil down the tower of Belfast Castle and fancying myself as a soldier-type of guy, (cool, adventurous and fit!), I decided that I wanted to help Christian Aid with its fundraising event and anyway it wouldn’t do my image any harm!
The Tower is 100 feet high. At first, I thought I was doing this on my own but granda said that he would like to do it with me. (I think granny twisted his arm and made various other threats…I’m not sure that he said the word “like” with real commitment. I was surprised that he said, yes, as he is a bit of a chicken!)
Granda is an Assistant Cub Scout Leader and is taking on the role of Scout Leader next year. He suggested that we could do the abseil as Scouts doing a “good turn” and also “accepting a challenge” which all Scouts try to do. We set ourselves a target of raising £250. This was soon raised to £300. Finally, we raised over £700.
I was astonished by how much I raised on the “Just Giving” page, that my dad helped me set up on the computer. A lot of donations came from people in Church after the Rev. Anne allowed granda and me to have a slot during a Service.
The abseil took quite a bit of time. It felt like ages to get to the top of the tower. We had to take lifts and climb a narrow spiral staircase. Then we had a safety briefing and were fitted with a harness. When it was our turn we went out onto a roof and looking down, the ground seemed VERY far away. The hardest thing was getting over the little wall at the top and getting a good grip with our feet on a ledge about 5cm wide.
The actual abseil was quite quick and I had full control of my descent using special knots and the harness.
We later found out that I was the youngest (12) to do the abseil and granda (65) was the oldest.
40 million people globally have had to flee their homes, due to war or natural disasters, in places like Haiti and Colombia.
Along with Christian Aid partners, we are helping those who have had to endure some of the worst natural disasters on earth to build a stronger life for themselves.
Christian Aid Week 2018 focused on our work in poor countries like Haiti where we have helped build safer homes and helped families to recover from natural disasters.