Danielle Dutschke treks 1200 kilometres to raise money for Ugandan children
The Murray Bridge woman was inspired to undertake a once-in-a-lifetime walk, even in the recent wintery weather.
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Five minutes in the weather would have been enough for almost anyone during the past week – so how about 50 days?
Murray Bridge woman Danielle Dutschke is facing it at the moment, going on the hike of a lifetime to raise money for children in Uganda.
She embarked on a 1200-kilometre walk along the length of the Heysen Trail on August 9, starting at Parachilna, and was about a third of the way along when she phoned Murray Bridge News from Melrose on Saturday.
“Every day is a surprise, especially with the recent weather,” she said.
“It has made hikes that are tough even tougher.”
She started in the desert, trekking through the gorgeous gorges of the Flinders Ranges with not a blade of green grass in sight.
Then she crossed Goyder’s Line into more productive country, where the hills became rolling and green – but no less steep.
“It does your ankles and your knees,” she said.
“One day I spent 10 hours walking along a creek bed and my ankles got really swollen; sometimes you’re walking along a four-wheel-drive track, sometimes you’re following a fence for days.
“On long days your body feels it.”
On some days she has run into other hikers, including a 65-year-old woman completing the same journey.
On other days kangaroos, wallabies, galahs and cockatoos have been her only companions.
Her determination is made all the more remarkable by the fact that she had never before completed a hike longer than seven days.
But she had met women and children who have endured worse than a bit of wind and rain.
River city in Africa inspired trek across Australia
Jinja is a city of about 80,000 people perched on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, at the point where the River Nile begins its long, winding journey north to the Mediterranean Sea.
Sugar and palm oil are refined there, steel manufactured and a lager beer brewed.
But life is hard for many of its residents, some of whom must eke out a living in filthy slums.
Ms Dutschke spent two months there on a placement for her university degree, and ended up contracting septicaemia, blood poisoning, due to the lack of hygiene available.
But the life of a Ugandan child was more perilous still, she said.
“Children there are walking so far to and from school every day – about 28 kilometres,” she said.
“Some of the kids just don't make it.
“A lot of them are involved in accidents, there are kidnappings and a lot of the girls are violated.”
So, when planning her trek, Ms Dutschke planned to walk the same distance each day as the children she had met – 28 kilometres – and to raise money for two organisations which would benefit them.
Her goal is to raise $10,000 for Bulera Millenium Children’s Ministries, enough to buy a community van to take the children to school.
If she achieves that goal, she hopes to raise another $6000 for the Women’s Rights Initiative Uganda, which runs a shelter in Jinja for women escaping violence.
She has raised more than $5000 so far.
In the meantime, Ms Dutschke has another 850 kilometres to go on her trek.
Over the next four weeks, she will walk through the Mid North, the Clare and Barossa Valleys, the Adelaide Hills and down the Fleurieu Peninsula to Cape Jarvis.
Far from being daunted, she said she was excited about the prospect.
“The last part will be amazing,” she said.
“I think I’ll cry when I see the ocean.”
Photos: Danielle Dutschke. Map: Friends of the Heysen Trail.