A Charity Challenge in Vietnam

My name is Pamela McCarthy. I am a Mum and a Grandmother and a hair­dresser. I’ve lived in Newport all my life, but every now and then feel the need to give myself a bit of a push, step outside of my comfort zone, and do something I’ve never done before, or go somewhere I’ve never been.

About 10 months ago I saw a Charity Challenge ‘Trek to North Vietnam’, and decided to go for it. It was great because you could choose your own charity to support. I was looking for one where I knew the money would go to the people that needed it and not in administration - HHI was perfect.

I did train for the trek, but nothing really prepares you for the heat, humidity and huge mountains that I encountered (I thought I was doing well climbing the local 'Twm Barlwm').

We trekked approximately seventeen kilometres a day, which took five to seven hours, up very steep mountains, down into deep valleys with lots of terraces and rice fields, across primitive aerial rope bridges, and along a track that the Vietnamese had fled when Saigon was invaded by the Chinese in 1979.

We went through villages of ethnic minority hill tribe people, one of which only had their first foreign visitors in 1996, through bamboo forests and lush jungle.

We slept at night in tents, home stays or bamboo huts in the jungle, which was not as romantic as it sounds!

Physically it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but it is difficult to put into words the spiritual experiences of those two weeks. People talk about a ‘mountain-top’ experience, well I certainly had a few of these.

I was aware that people at home would be very faithful in praying for me, and I can only tell you that I felt very protected, completely calm and peaceful, with never a thought that I couldn’t do it, and not a moment of fear.

I thank God for His grace and strength, which I can’t imagine living without.

If anyone of the readers is thinking of doing a Charity Challenge, go for it. It will be an amazing experience.

Pam McCarthy