In September Lerwick resident Becky Tonge will be flying out to Morocco to embark on a sponsored trek through the Sahara Desert.
She intends to raise as much money as possible for UK-based charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP). This organisation helps people in the UK get out and stay out of debt through debt counselling services and courses.
Becky, 34, a senior social care worker at Viewforth, has already raised nearly £500 for the charity thanks to the generosity of family, friends, work colleagues and her church, the Emmanuel Christian Fellowship. When she gets to Morocco she will be in the desert for about six days, walking in an organised group of around 18 people whom she will meet for the first time at Heathrow. They will walk for up to seven hours a day in temperatures reaching 35C. This will be no mean feat as she readily acknowledges she does not cope well in high temperatures. Fortunately porters will carry their luggage and Becky will take sensible precautions of wearing loose clothing – she is already scouring the charity shops for lightweight items she can dump afterwards – and using factor 50 sun cream. Her parents have supplied her with special socks with reinforced heels to help make the walk as comfortable as possible.
The group will trek through areas occupied by nomadic tribes and will sleep in bedouin tents. Becky said she is “starting to get excited” now, but not at all nervous about being in the desert. However she will have to be on her guard on the first and last days of the adventure when they have time on their own in Casablanca, she said.
This will not be the first time Becky has sought out an adventure by volunteering in another country. Before now she has undertaken exploits as far away as Nepal, where she went while an occupational therapy student to observe the practice in a leprosy hospital (which became the subject for her dissertation) and China, where she was a Bible courier, providing Bibles to Christians who could not readily access them. Christianity is not banned in China but is heavily censored. Becky’s work was risky enough for her as a Westerner – the Bibles could have been confiscated – but a local caught doing the same thing could face imprisonment.
In Canada she went on a training course, part of which involved working in Costa Rica providing food for the poor and homeless, and spent a month in Kyrgystan she worked alongside a nurse helping homeless people on the streets. These people are treated “extremely poorly”, she said, being often refused hospital admission and regularly beaten up by the police.
It is therefore not surprising her adventurous nature will not allow her to be put off experiencing the Sahara Desert for a few days as she knows it will be worth it to raise money for CAP.
CAP courses are periodically held in various parts of Shetland and are advertised in the media. The debt counselling the organisation provides has “helped thousands” manage their money and has enabled many in financial trouble to stay in their homes.
- Anyone who would like to sponsor Becky can do so by visiting www.justgiving.com/beckytreksthesahara