I was fortunate enough to experience a once in a lifetime adventure when my family and I went on a trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe. For three weeks we travelled, camped – often on our own with just a fire for company and the wild sounds of nocturnal animals – and explored these countries spotting incredible wildlife.
From lone Kori bustards and crocodiles to majestic giraffes and elephants, our patience finally paid off and I was the one who spotted a pride of lions in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve! Not only this, but when breaking camp early one morning south of the Chobe River we had an extended, exceptional view of a leopard.
Another night I will never forget was the cold night we camped out in bed rolls under thousands of stars in the moon like terrain of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
So different to life in the UK, we could travel all day without meeting anyone, driving for hours over sand, something we never experience on our tarmac roads at home.
The other thing that I had not experienced was the extreme poverty we witnessed in Zimbabwe. It was so present everywhere we went and I found it really upsetting to see. I decided right then and there that I wanted to do something, even small, to help. We gave away shampoo, pens and notebooks to people we met as these were things they asked for, in fact anything we could give them. I decided too, that when I got home I would not forget this and wanted to do some fundraising.
The first thing I did was organise a walk from Start Point, an iconic headland in South Devon, to Strete Gate along the coastpath near where I live. This was 9 miles over tough terrain up and down, a mile for each year of my life as I was 9 at the time. My friend Matilda walked with me and my family were back up crew.
My target was £250 but I ended up raising £580 for SOS Children’s Villages which is a charity that works together in deprived communities to protect and improve the lives of children ensuring every child grows up in a loving family home, and empowers children to flourish and reach their full potential. SOS Children’s Villages work in Botswana and Zimbabwe amongst other countries. I also held a sweet stall on a Friday after school in the playground which was also popular and raised money.
I am really aware that I live a good and lucky life in the UK and I know that many children around the world are not as fortunate as I am. In the future I look forward to my further travels and future fundraising. I would love to see a world with all children able to have the right to a happy and safe life.