Costa Rica Trek - A Fundraiser's Story | Depaulcharity

Depaul helps people who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Costa Rica Trek - A Fundraiser's Story

By Sharon - 20 February 2018


“I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone...I feel totally helpless and very distressed when I see people on the streets.”

Sharon and a team of eight intrepid trekkers recently took part in the charity walk of a lifetime, completing a 12-day trek through the Costa Rican rainforest, to raise funds for young people affected by homelessness.

What's it like to take on an overseas fundraising challenge for Depaul UK?

Here's Sharon's story:​

The Motivation

Supporting young people affected by homelessness isn’t new to Sharon.

She’s a volunteer Nightstop host, and regularly offers her spare room to young people experiencing homelessness in the North East, as part of a Depaul service called Nightstop UK. The service offers emergency overnight accommodation to young people in crisis.

“I have been a Nightstop host for about six years. I volunteered because I wanted to do something worthwhile. I work full-time so finding something to fit with that was hard. In addition to that, I have always struggled with the fact that people have nowhere to go.

“I feel totally helpless and very distressed when I see people on the streets. My work takes me to London on a regular basis and I find that hard.
“I try to offer my spare room one night every week. I feel that it enables me to help prevent someone becoming long-term homeless. Volunteering is so worthwhile, and while I know that welcoming a stranger into your home can be a daunting prospect, it really gives me a sense of pride.”

The Challenge

In 2017, Sharon wanted to try something different and quite literally go the extra mile for young people experiencing homelessness.

She decided to take on Depaul UK’s Costa Rica trek, an overseas fundraising challenge, where  participants would take on a gruelling 12-day trek through the Costa Rican jungle.

So, what inspired Sharon to take part in such a big challenge for charity?

She said:

“I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. I had struggled with a fear of flying and I also felt the need to do something to make me get fit. I really signed up on a whim without giving myself time to really think about it.  I remember having several moments of sheer panic , wondering how I would get on the plane never mind trek through the jungle. 

“I also like to look for ways to raise funds to support Nightstop, so it was a good opportunity to combine the two.

 “I was very nervous before the trip. Initially when I signed up I didn't have anyone I knew coming with me. Over time a couple of my colleagues and my daughter signed up. We ended up having several training weekends at my static caravan in Northumberland.”

The Trek

In November 2017, a team of eight flew into San Jose, Costa Rica, to begin their jungle adventure.

Sharon said:

“The terrain was varied. Anything from thick jungle, rapid river crossings, landslides, high altitudes to steep climbs and descents. I believe the longest day was 12 miles. It was very humid, very wet and raining, but really hot. We had to drink lots of water and our guide would warn us if he felt we weren't stopping for a wee enough!

“We stayed at a different place every night, many with no electric, very basic toilets, and cold showers. One camp site called The Cow Shed was just that. It was the worst place to stay, but also one of my favourites because of the amazing views.

“There were so many amazing memories. The camaraderie of the team… but I think for me the toughest day was the best. We had to get up at 3am and pack, with no electric. We had a candlelit breakfast at 3.30am. By 4am we were trekking through thick rainforest, listening to the jungle waking up all around us.

“The hardest thing about the trip was wearing wet stinking clothes. Because we had to keep our packing really light we had to re-wear things and we could never dry things. But at least we all stunk!”

The Fundraising

In total Sharon’s group raised more than £5,300 for Depaul UK, which will support the charity’s services for young people affected by homelessness in the UK.

When asked about fundraising, she said: “The Depaul Fundraising Team offered to help and provide ideas.

“I sold a lot of things so didn't totally rely on sponsorship. My colleagues asked for sponsorship instead of birthday/Christmas gifts. I used birthday/Christmas gifts for my kit.

“The fundraising trip was the adventure of a lifetime and I would highly recommend it to anyone.”

The Next Big Charity Challenge

When asked if she was planning another big fundraising adventure, Sharon said:

“I'm hoping that there will be another Advent Sleepout this year [an event held annually by Depaul UK]. Quite a few of my colleagues are looking to join me on that. The following year I will be 50, so I'm hoping there will be the opportunity for another amazing Depaul adventure. If not I will probably do one myself and still raise funds. The Great Wall of China sounds good!”

Trek for Charity with Depaul in 2018!

If you’ve been inspired by Sharon and would like to take on a charity trek of a lifetime, then why not join Depaul in 2018 as we walk the famous Camino de Santiago for charity? Visit our Camino de Santiago page for further details and to register your interest.

If you're looking for a way to support Depaul UK closer to home, then visit our fundraising pages to see how you can help us to change the lives of young people affected by homelessness.


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