Flying the City of Culture flag high from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Desmond Mahon had reached the pinnacle of a five day trek for charity.
The 20-year-old Biological and Forensic Scienec student from the Culmore Road was finally standing on the roof of Africa, having raised a whooping £2,598 for Childreach International on the way there.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this week, he said: “The whole experience was very emotional. I had initally signed up for the trek just for the challenge but when I was in Tanzania and able to see the work the charity does out there, it made the five day climb to the top seem so much more than simply a trek.”
Having signed up for the trek at Coventry University, Desmond and 20 others completed the challenge earlier this month, but Desmond had little idea of the impact his sponsorship was going to have.
He explains: “Before we climbed Kilimanjaro, we visited the Mgungani Primary School, which is funded by Childreach International.
“The teachers there showed us the new windows, the clean toilet facilities and the new cooking area, and explained that before the charity had come onboard the local children did not attend school.
“Now, it is a thriving environment and to meet the schoolchildren was really emotional.
“They really do have nothing. The football we played with was actually handmade using cardboard and string!”
But while the trip’s purpose was now clear in his mind, the climb ahead wasn’t worrying him.
He said: “I thought it was going to be easy!”
But he is quick to point out that he was very wrong, “It was extremely hard. We walked for five days straight, for 10-14 hours a day. I definitely should have gone to the gym more beforehand!”
On the final day Desmond was up at base camp, and ready to start walking at midnight.
“We set off in the middle of the night so we could reach the top in time for the sunrise.
“The early start was worth it. When we finally reached the summit the views were unbelievable and to know the school we were helping sat in the shadow of this incredible mountain made the hard climb to the top all the more poignant.”
Desmond would like to think all of those who contributed to his sponsorship, including a lot of local Derry businesses who helped him reach his target. They include, Omega, Fallers Jewellers, Da Vinci’s, City Hotel, Paul’s Butchers, Austins, McGuinness Group and Studio Hair and Beauty.
If you want to add to Desmond’s incredible charity total then you can at www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/desmahon