A YOUNG woman is planning to become the first to trek solo across Jordan for a charity helping Syrian refugees and Jordanians in need.
Victoria Harris, who grew up in Helmsdale in the Highlands and studied at university in Edinburgh, has been working as an international aid worker with non-profit organisations as a laboratory scientist for the past seven years, battling diseases such as TB, HIV, Malaria and recently Ebola in West Africa.
Now she is setting herself a new challenge, to walk solo across Jordan to raise money for the Nobel Peace prize winning organisation Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medicines sans Frontiers (MSF).
She said: “My target goal is £10 per km of the trail, so £6,400. I have worked with MSF on three missions and care deeply about their core values of helping those who need help most, regardless of politics, religion or where they are.
“MSF is funded mostly by public donations so it remains politically neutral by not accepting money from governments which might cause them to compromise their ideals.
“That means the efforts of people like me are very important to their funding to be able to continue doing the work they do in almost 70 countries around the world.”
She added: “The Jordan trail starts in the north of the county in Um Qais, 110km away from the capital and airport in Amman. The trail runs though the length of the entire country passing many ruins, biblical sites, eco-tourist spots and of course the world famous Petra before passing through some truly remote desert in the Wadi Rum region and ending with a well deserved dive into the Red Sea in the south.
“Jordan is a very safe country, very welcoming of tourists, but the trail is so new not many people have walked the entire route and I don’t know of anyone who has walked it solo so there is an element of challenge.
“Jordan is also an fascinating country rich in history and biblical tales. I’m most looking forward to walking into Petra after walking almost 400km already. It’s this that caught my imagination when I first heard about the trail. Despite being bordered by Syria and hosting many of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, Jordan is considered a very safe country in general and lots has been written about the hospitality experienced.
“I’ve never completed a walk of such a length, my longest walk was 250km across the Highlands of Scotland and over a 100km at altitude in Kyrgyzstan so I’m looking forward to the unique challenges of the Jordan trail.
“The trail isn’t marked for the full length and there aren’t maps which show it available so this will be my first trek done fully using GPS. I hope to take from 30-40 days to complete the walk, but I’m not going to sprint.”
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She added: “MSF delivers lifesaving medical care to the people who need it most, regardless of where they are or whether their stories have hit the headlines.
“The organisation provides vital care for some of the country’s 600,000 Syrian refugees, as well as for vulnerable Jordanians.
“When you donate, you’ll be supporting MSF’s vital work — both in Jordan and around the world. I have made friends with amazing people from around the globe, and learnt more in the three roles than in any job previously.”
* Donations can be made through the website: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JordanJaunt