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  1. #1
    GWOnline.Net Member Gaendaal's Avatar
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    Gaendaal fights poverty and suffering: tales from the Great Wall of China

    Hey all,

    Some of the more observant of you may have noticed my recent absence from the forums over the past week or so. An even smaller amount of you may've known that I've been in China for this time, walking the Great Wall in support of Oxfam; a UK-based organisation dedicated to overcoming poverty and suffering.

    I've had a mind-blowing time so this post is an excuse to try and empty my head of some of the thoughts in my head right now...

    15 of us (plus two folk walking in support of the Royal National Institute of the Blind and a representative from Oxfam) flew to China on the 5th of May to start our walk. Five days of gruelling 6/7 hour-long walks on the Wall loomed before us in the form of countless steps, rolling slopes and sheer cliffs. It's hard now looking back to that day; it seems so very far away.

    First, the cold finances. We raised OVER £21,000! (US$42,000). This is a staggering amount of money and is enough to provide healthcare, education and agricultural support for a good-sized town. Broken down into real-world items by Oxfam, we have provided...

    £6800 - builds 4 classrooms
    £500 - buys 200 text books
    £300 - trains 10 teachers
    £250 - kits out 10 teachers
    £30 - buys school dinners for 500 children

    £2000 - buys 10 plots of farming land
    £1280 - trains 20 farmers
    £280 - buys 20 animal care kits
    £400 - plants 1250 trees
    £2500 - buys 250 fishing nets
    £5000 - sets up 250 market stalls to sell produce and provide a living

    £760 - trains 20 health workers
    £100 - buys essential medicines for the whole village

    Sub-total - £20,200....

    ...which leaves £1414.50 change to provide safe water for 1000 people and 250 Oxfam buckets to carry it in!

    Grand fundraising total: £21,614.50!

    …but that's not the half of it.

    I can honestly say that this last week has been the most unbelievable "holiday" I've ever been on. I'm fairly well-travelled (I've been to the US, to Australia, to New Zealand, to Japan and to large swathes of Europe) but this has been a completely different experience. 14 complete strangers have become very dear friends. Physically, I've pushed myself further than I thought possible and mentally I've been humbled by the sight of the Great Wall stretching off into the distance, seemingly forever. I've had the pleasure of dealing with an amazingly friendly people and learning a small amount of their culture. I've seen the homes of emperors and peasants, been welcome in both.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with this, to be honest. It's not a funny video or a pudding-based poll. I just want to let people know that even in this, frankly, horrific time you CAN make a difference and you should never, ever let anyone tell you that you can't.

    Right now, I'm sat at my desk but this job seems like the most pointless exercise I can imagine. "Life-changing" is one of those phrases that gets used far too often but it's true here. I feel like a different person, more alive…

    Next year I will be signing up for Oxfam's TrailWalker event, 100km in 30 hours non-stop, and I can't wait. I'd do it tomorrow if I could.



    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
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    MixedVariety's Avatar
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    Now you know why some people opt for social work of various sorts even though it's seemingly pointless and financially unrewarding on the surface. Helping out, and becoming part of such a group, is a reward unto itself. I know, I've been there.
    mv

  3. #3
    GWOnline.Net Member Gaendaal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MixedVariety View Post
    Now you know why some people opt for social work of various sorts even though it's seemingly pointless and financially unrewarding on the surface. Helping out, and becoming part of such a group, is a reward unto itself.
    Very true.

    I'm no stranger to charity work and have organised loads of events myself but, yeah, this was something else.

    It saddens me that other people might not get the opportunity (or have the inclination) to do something similar.

  4. #4
    Grats on raising such a phenomenal amount of money for such a good cause, and on having fun whilst doing it. I hope the experience gives you the impetus you need to ditch the office job and find a more soul-enriching one, but if that proves too impractical then I hope you have fun doing the TrailWalker and other such things instead. The world needs more people like you!

  5. #5
    How Truly Spectacular! I have mentored and helped within the Metis community around home, but certainly nothing on that level. I think it must do a person's soul good to do something so rewarding.

    And what a great pic!
    Last edited by Rune Splendor; 17-05-2007 at 16:11.

  6. #6
    Weeeell... a week-long trek along the Great Wall of China actually sounds pretty good to me. I wouldn't mind doing it!

    Bit confused though, I know by experience that such treks don't exactly come free and require a decent amount of on-site organization. How was that budgeted in, exactly?

    In any case grats to you for pulling it off. :)

  7. #7
    GWOnline.Net Member Gaendaal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentMoon View Post
    Bit confused though, I know by experience that such treks don't exactly come free and require a decent amount of on-site organization. How was that budgeted in, exactly?
    You're not the only one who's asked...

    Everyone on the trek paid around £1500 each for the opportunity to go on the trip and this covered the costs involved for travel, support etc. The £21,000 is the amount we raised BEYOND that figure and goes directly to Oxfam.

  8. #8
    GWOnline.Net Member Trinculo's Avatar
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    SWEET!
    So Incredibly Proud Of You!
    Welcome to the Giving Community!
    I love being part of Habitat For Humanity and seeing the faces of the family when you "present" them with their home. Or losing yourself to the food kitchen and feeding people. Wish I could do more of it, but RL concerns prevent....nvm
    I've never raised that much money so mind me if I'm a bit agogged by you and what you've done.
    “You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'” George Bernard Shaw
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  9. #9
    GWOnline.Net Member
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    COOL! What you've done is really nice.

  10. #10
    GWOnline.Net Member MoonUnit's Avatar
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    Very cool!

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