(S)He who rides the sea of the Nile must have sails woven of patience.
– William Golding
For many of us, growing older carries a lingering hint of uncertainty, of doubt and unrest. Are we living the life we yearn for? Are we feeling deeply fulfilled? Is there more to our existence than following the societal blueprint? The difficulty with living a 9-5 life whilst nurturing a deep love for the outdoors is that we are left wistful; longing for open skies and the call of adventure, sipping at the freedom the weekend provides without never quite quenching our thirst.
In some ways, this is Sarah Davis’ story, one tainted with irony; the daring passion of a woman grappling to understand her purpose in the grand scheme of the universe. Sarah was a talented paddler working full-time on her career as a risk management consultant before she set her sights on possibly one of the most risk-laden expeditions she could think of. Tired of asking herself if she was really living a life that fulfilled her, wondering if she was pursuing things that really mattered, she took a leap of faith that many would shy away from. Fuelled by her desire to venture into the unknown, her desire to connect with others, and to make a real difference for women who haven’t had the privilege and opportunity she had, she launched into seeking out her most daring endeavour yet. Her light bulb moment occurred when, inspired by other grand expeditions, she realised that the Nile had never been paddled from north to south by a woman before. If she could just find enough support and guidance for this colossal undertaking, she could do it. She would do it. And she could make a significant difference while she did.
Her journey will take her through 6853 kilometres for close to 7 months from Rwanda to Egypt along the White Nile, through some of the world’s most dangerous waters. The expedition in itself is a mammoth undertaking but the scale of planning that it requires is the real challenge in itself. “I’ve been so lucky to receive help and advice from so many people, including experts in the region and with the kind of expedition I am planning. I’ve been blown away by all the support I had” Between intense training sessions in her NSW home, Sarah is in contact with embassies, government officials and many experts and advisors to help plan the expedition and manage the risks.
“There’s no end of risks to manage with this expedition. It’s also about having to be prepared for the unknown and unexpected situations that can arise. I’m very lucky that the local authorities have been incredibly cooperative and willing to help with security and permits. I’m also in close contact with local rafting guides and kayakers who have an intimate knowledge of the river to assist us with our preparations.” Sarah has been juggling corporate sponsorships, recce trips and spreading her mission through social platforms in the hopes of setting sail in the second quarter of 2018.
When choosing a charity to work with, Sarah was mindful not only of the organisation’s previous work and general ethos, but she also wanted to feel in alignment with their mission on a personal level. She says “I chose CARE Australia, a global humanitarian aid working to end poverty. The reason I chose them is that they put woman and girls at the centre of their initiatives because they know we cannot overcome poverty without equal rights and opportunities. On top of that, they focus on long term sustainable solutions and work the local communities to make sure these solutions will be effective. CARE Australia have been fantastic to work with and are incredibly supportive of what I am doing and what I want to achieve with this expedition.” Working with CARE has given a whole new layer of meaning to Sarah’s project. “This journey has helped me make some incredible connections with people. They’ve helped me bring purpose to what I’m doing which is such a gift.”
Putting women and girls in the centre of her mission is key for Sarah; she is driven by her passion for equal opportunities and hopes that her expedition will encourage other women to go out, dream big and embark on their own adventures. It’s a community she is calling ‘Winning Women’. She says “When things get tough out there, and they will, it will be this higher purpose of raising money for CARE Australia and hoping to inspire others, that will help keep me going. I love seeing more and more women getting out there and chasing their dreams and seeing what they are truly capable of. So to the women out there, don’t hesitate, dream big and just do it! Don’t die wondering.”