Photo of Ambeya standing in the Sahara desert wearing an Our Time T-shirt

Ambeya’s Sahara Trek for Our Time 2018

“If you are actively managing your story, you are actively contributing to society.”

Many of you ask how I manage such a busy lifestyle – with work, charity and studies – and yet still find the time to focus on my social life and have some ‘me’ time. I never really managed to find the answer to such a difficult question until now. Keeping busy isn’t a bad thing. People always say ‘I don’t have time for this and that’, but for me, having a busy lifestyle means focusing on the things I am most passionate about. I prioritise the things which mean most to me and am happy with the little things in life. Keeping myself busy focusing on my goals means I don’t have time to focus on hate, regrets, worries and fears.

One of these goals, which has always driven my passion and motivation, is being able to create change and inspiring others to live a little. Every year, I try my best to voice the opinions and views which young carers suffering from parental mental illness have. They become victim to their parents’ diagnosis. I never had an explanation as to why my mother was the way she was. No one told me what was wrong with her. I felt frightened and worried for my mother. Why was she taken away from home? What was the place she was taken to? Was it my fault? Had my mother done something wrong? Was this a punishment? No one ever asked me how I was. This is how I grew up: uninformed, ashamed and completely unequipped to support my mother in her struggles. So, I see my own life challenges through these children. As a trustee of Our Time and young carer’s champion, I feel it is my duty to raise awareness of this issue so young carers get the support they need.

I don’t do this for myself – the campaigning and writing blogs – I do this to inspire others to find the strength within themselves. I want to help people dig deep to find themselves again and aspire to become the person they can be. I’ve always said that everything happens for a reason, whether we understand that reason or not, and I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me because it’s made me who I am.

Children are ageing with the public services that are currently in place. But thankfully, Our Time provides support for young carers and encourages them to be be proud of holding that title.

That’s why I trekked the Sahara Desert this year. The desert is a world of its own and I am so glad I finally managed to tick another crazy idea off my bucket list. As a young carer, it was always impossible to go on family holidays. Now that I have the opportunity to do fundraising events abroad, I do it to raise money for the services which allow kids to be kids.

A typical day trekking the desert:

  • Wake up at 6.30am, pack up our tents and get our day packs ready
  • 7am-7.30am: Breakfast
  • 8am to 12pm: Trek
  • 12pm-3pm: Lunch and break time. This is the hottest time of the day with temperatures rising to 38 degrees
  • 3pm-6/7pm: Trek
  • 7pm onwards: Set up tents, dinner and sleep

Words can’t describe what pictures should, and pictures do not give justice to the experience. Everything was an experience, whether it was being without a shower/toilet for the week, to watching the sunset and sleeping under the stars. Meeting others all fundraising for different causes and being able voice my emotions and opinions on unjust issues gave me a sense of satisfaction and relief. I want society to hear untold stories and act to support the millions of young carers who face difficulties and to challenge stigma. It’s a chance to empower those suffering in silence, running away or too afraid to speak up. A word doesn’t define who we are; it doesn’t make us any different to the people we were last week, it doesn’t set us up for failure and it doesn’t mean we are alone.

Ambeya kindly put together a slideshow of the photos from her amazing experience.