If your new year’s resolution is to do something different this year, we have just the ticket: get yourself to the top of the world (well, one of the highest points at least) and feel like an absolute hero while raising money for charity. We’re talking about local charitable organisation Gulf for Good’s adventure challenge in China. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a semi-fit do-gooder who loves to travel and meet new people, this is for you. In fact, you don’t even have to be semi-fit – just healthy and willing to put in some training.
Gulf for Good is a Dubai-based, UK-registered charity that’s out to change lives in more ways than one, by persuading ordinary people to tackle once-in-a-lifetime challenges to raise funds for good causes. The aim of the game is twofold: first, it’s about raising money for children’s hospitals, schools and orphanages worldwide; second, it’s about getting diverse groups of adventure-minded people together to give them an experience of a lifetime. To date, Gulf for Good has organised 37 such challenges across some of the most exotic locations in the world. From Everest base camps to the wilds of Borneo, from trekking the alternative Inca trail to climbing Kilimanjaro, the team has sent participants on some unforgettable journeys.
So what awaits in China? The Wild Wall Challenge will involve six days of hiking along the most spectacular sections of China’s Great Wall. Imagine walking through vast valleys and quiet villages one day, then hiking through mountainous plains and ancient tombs the next. The route will involve gently undulating sections, but also some steep and rocky terrain that will require scrambling to reach the most impressive parts of the Great Wall and catch the most breathtaking views.
Now if it’s all set to kick off in May, why are we making a fuss about it now? First of all, the trip is limited to 25 people, and with folks signing up already, they’re fast running out of spaces. Then there’s the preparation part. You’ll need all the time you can get to raise the minimum sponsorship of Dhs18,000 and put in three months of training. We’re told this will be a real test of fitness and endurance, so you’ll want to raise your stamina.
If you don’t have a gym membership, fret not: Gulf for Good will be running free training sessions in the months before you set off.
Finally, aside from the stimulation of setting yourself a huge physical challenge, you have the equally important incentive of helping children in need. Gulf for Good’s Wild Wall challenge will be raising funds for the Bethel Foundation, a Hong Kong-registered non-profit organisation that works with blind and visually impaired orphans in China. The foundation not only cares for the children, but also provides them with the education, skills and livelihood opportunities they need to lead independent and dignified lives.
‘We hear constantly that the challenges we organise make a huge difference to peoples’ lives,’ says Gulf for Good founder and chairman Brian Wilkie. ‘Obviously the recipients of the funds benefit enormously, but the challenges themselves often turn out to be life-changing experiences.’
One of these challengers was Fadi Baaklini, 46, a Lebanese/Canadian company director from Dubai who took part in the Everest Base Camp Challenge in October. ‘I never imagined that in just 14 days, one can make up a family,’ he says of the team with whom he completed his challenge. ‘While we started as complete strangers, each with a desire to contribute to a good cause as well as to take on a mental and physical challenge, we ended up building friendships and forming a solid unit. We had all left our lives behind us. On these mountains, there was no managing director, sales manager, financial analyst, HR director, architect, schoolmaster, dentist or project manager. There was simply a group of genuine people with a common goal.’ To sign up for Gulf for Good’s Wild Wall Challlenge, call 04 368 9625 or see www.gulf4good.org.