Luke Thomas


For over 60 years UNICEF has been the world's leader for children, working on the ground in more than 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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African Gap Year

Luke Thomas

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Hello! Kaabo! Hujambo! Ndewo! IF YOU DON'T ENJOY READING, WATCH MY VIDEO INSTEAD. IT'S ON THIS PAGE, JUST MOVE YOUR MOUSE, SCROLL FURTHER DOWN, AND CLICK ON THE VIDEO. I TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FUNDRAISING EVENT WITHOUT RAMBLING ON FOR AGES OR MAKING TERRIBLE JOKES. IF YOU LIKE READING, PLEASE CONTINUE. SORRY FOR THE CAPITAL LETTERS. There's something about Africa that differentiates it from any other continent. That no doubt sounds a little stupid as, for one, it's in a different place to every other continent. But it's more than that, there's an awe in our eyes and a tingling of our lips when we discuss Africa. Africa is the continent we hear so much of but know so little about. Try this; ask anyone you know who has never visited Africa for their thoughts on the continent. Responses will be limited to 'it's pretty big', 'just malnutrition and poverty' and 'isn't Didier Drogba African?'. Now try this; ask anyone you know who has visited Africa for their thoughts on the continent. Responses will include but won't be limited to, 'it's like nowhere else you'll ever see', 'they're just so friendly' and 'Didier Drogba is African, you know'. I finished school in July. I'm now on my gap year. There's nothing wrong with Thailand, there's nothing wrong with Australia and there's nothing wrong with Gloucestershire. You can go anywhere in the world and you'll have the best gap year of your life, because most people only have one. For the first eighteen years of my life I've had little choice in where I reside or travel. This is my first year to really go where I want to go, so why would I use this opportunity to wander along the vigorously beaten track of typical gap year haunts? There are so many places I'd love to visit, but Africa does it all for me. By trekking across Africa I can explore, experience new cultures, attempt and unashamedly fail at new languages, meet new and nourishing people, volunteer in places where volunteers are a luxury, and throughout it all I can be raising money for a charity generally regarded as one of the most respected in the world. On the evening of February 2nd, I fly out to Tanzania. I begin climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on February 6th, and finish the climb on February 14th. I'm doing the climb with Max, a Swiss friend of mine, and a group of his friends. I met Max at a European Youth Parliament session in Belgium a few months ago, and I'm hoping he and the rest of the fairly experienced mountaineering group will be able to guide me through the climb - I've never done anything like it before. I take hours to get up and out of bed in the morning so if it weren't for the help of the group, it would be years before I manage to get up and down one of the world's highest free standing mountain. Subsequent to the climb, Max and the rest of the group will be making their way home, but I'll be staying on in Africa. This is where it gets interesting, and now is a good time to open up Google Maps in a new tab. If you didn't already know, Tanzania is on the East Coast of Africa. From February 14th to late July, I'll be trekking as far across Africa as I can. The goal is to make my way to the West coast nations of Cameroon, Nigeria and Ghana. Ideally, anywhere around those three would be great. This means lots of walking, lots of public transport, but preferably no planes. As I won't be flying, I'll be travelling on the ground through; Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, and hopefully onwards. This is the safest route I can take as it avoids a few civil wars in central Africa, and I've also organised several volunteering placements at schools and charities within the countries I'll pass through. There's no real certainty over where I'll end up or whether I'll make it anywhere near the West coast, but that's all part of what makes this challenge so organic. I'll be constantly reliant upon local knowledge, new found friends and non-English speaking strangers to guide me through this adventure. At nights I'll either be accommodated by the schools, charities and institutes I volunteer for, put up by friends, searching for hostels or simply popping up my tent. I'm hoping that an integral component of my journey will be the use of social media to make new local contacts who are willing to help me along the way. If anyone reading this has any contacts or connections in the countries I'll be travelling through, I'd hugely appreciate your help. Just email me, text me, call me or find me on YouTube and Twitter. I'll be looking to keep you all as updated as possible. Thank you for visiting my fundraising page. Through Virgin Money Giving, you can sponsor me and donations will be quickly processed and passed to charities. Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit organisation (unlike sites like which takes a percentage of donations raised) and will claim gift aid on a charity's behalf where the donor is eligible for this. I really appreciate all your support and thank you for any donations. All charities have their faults, none escape criticism. Whether they're deemed to be paying executives too much or not investing the donations efficiently enough, there is no such thing as a perfect, unflawed charity. UNICEF is perhaps amongst a select group of global charities which is widely revered for leading sophisticated and transparent operations to support children's rights throughout the world and simultaneously bring extremely impoverished children out of the dire deprivation they live in. I've volunteered as a Children's Champion for UNICEF and have seen first hand the phenomenal, life-saving work they do, so please do trust me, and trust them, by making a donation if you can. Times are hard, but the chances are they will never be as hard as the times for people around the world constantly battling against extreme poverty. Maybe I've spoken too soon though, Osborne might've succeeded in turning the UK into a third world country by the time I get back in six months! Thanks for reading, PLEASE DONATE

Recent donors

21.06.14 Good Luke Luke , with our best wishes from Ruth and Peter...friends of your uncle Howard

27.02.14 Hope all is going well Luke ! Looking forward already to hearing your stories when you get back. Take care God bless , Debbie

19.02.14 A Bit of a drastic measure to improve your poetry,!! I find a walk in the woods works wonders.. Ok enjoy your adventure

09.02.14 Dear Cousin Luke - have a great trek and enjoy your travels. Stay safe and come back inspired!! Best wishes, Nicky & Nigel Milligan


02.02.14 For your vision, creativity and courage! Bon voyage!

29.01.14 Good luck Luke! Gemma (Allen and Cheryl's daughter)

26.01.14 Good Luck Luke, from Clare

26.01.14 Good luck, have an amazing time and please stay safe! Love from Allen, Cheryl, Gemma and Kerry

22.01.14 Luke, Fly to Capetown, Africa is only about 50 miles wide there!!!! Best of Luck Roger

19.01.14 Have a great time and try to stay safe!

17.01.14 Go Luke ! Have a great adventure.

16.01.14 Have a great adventure Luke. Lots of love Sher, Brian, Lloyd, Saul and Lois xx

16.01.14 It sounds like an amazing adventure and a brilliant opportunity for you to do some really great work

16.01.14 Best of luck from Matt, Vera and Sam. Sounds amazing!

15.01.14 This is a mother's nightmare but I am proud of you Luke and commend your support of others less fortunate. Just keep safe please, x Mum

15.01.14 I think you're an idiot. But you're my idiot friend, and I'll always support you. Good luck. Christina xx


Running total

Total raised incl. Gift Aid:
Total donors:
Last donor:
Ruth and Peter Jarvis
Offline fundraising: