Mountain trek helps Kenya's orphans
WHEN the snow began to fall and temperatures plummeted to -30 degrees, Katie Trulson realised the months of conditioning training were definitely paying off as she neared the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.
Miss Trulson, a former Bundaberg school teacher, set off on the adventure to climb all 5895m of Africa's highest mountain on December 22 last year, in the hope of raising funds for the Umoja Orphanage Kenya, a charity foundered by Bundaberg woman Cathy Booth.
"The trek was amazing but hard," Miss Trulson said.
"It rained every day which made it even harder.
"When the snow began to fall on Christmas morning, I'd never been so cold in my life."
With limited oxygen in the air, Miss Trulson said the trek was slow as the group acclimatised to the conditions.
"The last day trek to the top was intense," she said.
"We got up at midnight to make it to the summit for sunrise.
"When we reached to the top though it was amazing and definitely memorable."
Managing to raise $3300, Miss Trulson said the experience was well worth the effort as was her work in Kenya following the trek.
"After the trek I spent time at four orphanages in Kenya," she said.
"It's unbelievable; it's definitely a different world."
Struggling with challenges most of us could barely imagine, Miss Trulson helped make life slightly easier for the children.
"I spent four days at Footprints Orphanage in the remote Shimba Hills," she said.
"The elephants had stepped on the water lines so we helped fix the pumps.
"They had very little electricity or water - life is so simple."
But Miss Trulson said seeing the children made her realise what Ms Booth was trying to achieve with Umoja Orphanage was vitally important.
"They don't have the support we have here from the government," she said.
"If they don't have a job then they have to make sacrifices to survive.
"Sometimes that means giving up their children because they just can't support them."
At Kenya's Kikambala feeding station Miss Trulson helped feed 1980 children in just one day.
"It's heartbreaking," she said.
"But it's inspiring to see what people like Cathy are doing to help."