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Headshot of Muriel Bauer in sunglasses and trekking kit in the Namib Desert

Embracing Resilience Across The Namib Desert

Muriel Bauer
October 31, 2023

We are incredibly proud of MF’s Muriel Bauer who recently joined the first all female team to cross the Namib desert, scaling some of the tallest sand dunes in the world in one of the driest regions of Africa. The team covered 125km on foot over 5 nights and 6 days in the desert, from the Kuiseb river to Walvis Bay. As a coach and psychotherapist, Muriel has worked to empower women from all continents and social backgrounds for the past 15 years, and this phenomenal experience tested and challenged her.  Here’s how she got on and what she learned:

My face is bracing against the relentless horizontal wind as I push on each pole to propel myself forward. On the horizon I see the silhouette of a century-old shipwreck, marking the boundary between the desert and the mighty waves of the Atlantic Ocean. These final kilometres mark the culmination of a week-long trek through the vast expanse of the Namib Desert.

There, I joined the crew of "Women on a Mission", united by the twin goals of personal challenge and raising funds for Women for Women International, a UK charity supporting women survivors of war. Women on a Mission (WOAM) is a non-profit organisation that I joined 10 years ago whilst living in Singapore. Its goal is to conduct expeditions to raise funds and awareness for organisations dedicated to women’s causes.

As part of the first all-female team to cross the Namib desert on foot, 17 women from 12 different countries trekked 144km over 5 days and 6 nights, navigating some of the world's tallest sand dunes in one of Earth's driest deserts. The long days of hiking in searing heat tested our physical and emotional endurance, while the cold nights and strong winds pushed our resilience to its limits.

This was not only a personal challenge but also a deeply immersive encounter with the healing power of nature. Connecting with the vast dunes, the ceaseless wind, and the star-filled sky reminded me of my humble place in the vast cosmic web of life. Realising that the desert offers a sanctuary for introspection, I created for the team a space for mindfulness meditation and reflection. What am I ready to shed and leave behind in the shifting sands? What treasured wisdom am I glimpsing and taking with me?

During the expedition, the importance of teamwork became evident. Navigating the challenging terrain would have been impossible without the support of our amazing logistical team, who provided vital resources and guidance. They also ensured that our impact on the environment was minimal, leaving no trace of our passage behind. Their professionalism made each step of our trek feel safe, especially during the fierce windstorms. The fun spirit between our female trekkers provided constant encouragement, reminding us that we are all in this together!

On the last day, one of the most memorable aspects of our trip was our meeting with the women of Penduka Development Trust, a centre dedicated to uplifting less privileged women. Speaking with these women, who are fighting for economic survival for their families, proved a humbling lesson in determination and empowerment.

What an extraordinary journey! Reflecting on this, I feel so grateful for this unique experience. As a coach, I was reminded of the transformative power of resilience and the pursuit of a meaningful mission.

It reinforced my belief that challenges can be catalysts for personal and collective growth.

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