My name is Charlie Beeston. I am a 15 year old student from Lincoln living with a visual Impairment.

In 2018 my life was changed forever. I was called into the head teacher’s office at school where she informed me of an opportunity of a lifetime with a charity called Jolt. They take disadvantaged young people on a journey of a lifetime. I spent four weeks in the summer of 2018 trekking through Ecuador, Peru and the Galapagos Islands. Here is my summer story:

It all started off in the Amazon Rainforest. After two full days travelling we were finally in Iquitos, a small town on the edge of the Amazon River. On arrival we spent a day relaxing by a pool and walking through the town. It was a beautiful day with an opportunity to really get to know everyone. We then set off on the boat going down the river. It was an old rickety boat, where the seats were just summer deckchairs. We spent two full days boating and the overnight stay here was horrendous. Just to emphasise the terribleness of this place was the fact the bathrooms didn’t even have doors on them. It just shows how much we take for granted and what we believe to be everyday necessities were actually luxuries over there!

Next was the best day of the whole trip. We went wading up a river climbing waterfalls and dunking ourselves under the water, in a lot of different challenges.
After that we saw a different side of Ecuador, its rich and vibrant capital Quito. The city was huge and full of life. We were invited to the British Embassy, and for anybody that knows me will understand, that this was my moment.

Then came the mountains. This was by far the biggest struggle for me as I found the altitude extremely difficult. However, I powered through with the help of the amazing group around me. This was another great moment for me as one morning in the mountains we were given the opportunity to paint a school in a wonderful community. This morning was one of my best mornings ever. The pride we all felt afterwards was amazing. We spent some great times in the mountains but soon it was time to come back down and spend time on the coast but not before climbing that bit higher first. We walked up an active Volcano called Mount Cotapaxi, the second tallest mountain in Ecuador. We went 15,000 feet high, but it was all worth it for the hot chocolate at the top.

Then came the coast. Beautiful sandy beaches, glorious clear blue seas and a great sense of community. We worked with a conservation centre tagging turtles. It was amazing. This inspired so many people on the trip to come home and look into a career in marine biology. We also hired canoes and surfboards and spent an afternoon riding the waves, what an experience!

We then flew over to one of the best places on earth, the Galapagos Islands. Stunning coastlines, but even better wildlife. We spent numerous hours in the water snorkelling with sea turtles, sea lions and best of all sharks!

One final meal back in Ecuador. One last Hurrah. Then it was all over. I was left with memories and friendships that will stay with me forever. I’ll never forget that summer. It gave me so much. The independence it allowed me to have as a visually impaired individual will change my outlook on life, and show me that I will never allow my sight to limit me.

Written by Charlie Beeston