Back from Kili
It's 2 months now since we succeeded in our mountain challenge! What a journey it was!
In climbing Kilimanjaro, we were wanting it to represent some of the mountain challenges that families that include a child with additional needs can feel like they are facing. There were so many analogies all the way up. Here is the first...
A great team to support us all the way up!
We had an amazing team of guides, porters, cooks etc, who we got to know as we climbed and spent time at the camps in the evening. It really struck me how they demonstrated what it can be like to have someone, or a some people, walking with you in life as you navigate life's mountain journey with its ups and downs.
The team wanted us to succeed and would encourage us along the way, chatting and singing songs, getting to know each one of us individually. When some of our group got too weak from a tummy bug or mountain sickness, they would carry their packs for them, and even hold their water bottles to their lips, so they did not have to exert any extra energy to drink, but were still getting the sustenance needed to keep going. Then when those people had recovered enough and were stronger again, the guides gave them their packs back and encouraged them as they continued walking, having gained the strength to get through another day. When one of our group was particularly struggling and some of us worried she may not make it, the whole team got together and sung beautiful songs of encouragement to us, moving some of us to tears, but giving us the hope that we could all make it.
There were enough guides to walk with us everyday to spread out amongst our group and make sure that we were all coping ok. On the summit night, when two of our group were too weak to carry their own packs, they drafted in more porters to accompany us, to make sure they had enough people to look after each member of our group.
And when we did all make it to the top of the mountain our guides and those extra porters were right there, celebrating with us! Joy all round! And how much more meaningful it was to us that we were celebrating with people who had walked the journey with us, got to know us and had been through the hard and the fun times along the way. Truly special.
In life, friends, families and communities are often amazing when it comes to the crisis points - being emergency babysitters, transporting other children to school or activities, bringing meals round, sending cards and flowers etc. This is incredibly valuable and very needed. However, when it comes to the day in day out challenges of everyday life, it is often only the very few people that realise that those times can be the most challenging part, and it can be in those times that siblings can start to feel they are not coping or not as valued as their other sibling and internalise all their emotions.
It is so important for these families to have those one or two people that are committed to walk the whole way up the mountain with them; celebrating the good times; providing extra support in the bad and just walking alongside int the everyday- being that listening ear, encourager, errands-runner, whatever it may be - all the way up. It is so important for every member of a family to have someone like this there for them. Someone to be this person they can turn to, who knows them and loves them where they’re at and for who they are, who is there to listen when needed, encourage throughout and celebrate them for all that they are.
Our Guides and porters were amazing encouragers, incredible supports and wonderful people to celebrate with! Maybe if we all looked out for a family in need of someone like this, we could be that person to a sibling in the shadows or a parent doing their very best.