“The day that I landed in Mongolia was the first time that I saw snow in my life, ever,” says Mohammed Javed. “Coming from India and Malaysia I've never experienced temperature like it. It kind of caught me off guard.”

Mr Javed is one of 100 HSBC employees who in October volunteered to take part in a 100-kilometre charity trek across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The five-day challenge involved an arduous hike through punishing terrain in sub-zero temperatures with overnight stays in traditional Mongolian tents known as gers.

The trip highlighted the challenges of living in a tough environment where access to even the most basic resources is limited

HSBC Gobi Challenge team achieved its goal and in the process raised USD300,000 for WaterAid, the international organisation that helps deliver water, sanitation and hygiene to some of the poorest people in the world.

Mohammed Javed

Mohammed Javed

“The trip highlighted the challenges of living in a tough environment where access to even the most basic resources is limited. Walking across the Gobi Desert really put the work of WaterAid into perspective,” says Lucy Bennett-Baggs, who works for HSBC in Hong Kong and organised the Gobi Challenge. “With the money HSBC employees raised WaterAid will be able to help many more people in need.”

The trek was an HSBC employee initiative with participants from 22 countries paying their own way and volunteering their time to raise money for WaterAid. The organisation is also one of the partners involved in HSBC’s USD100 million Water Programme.

“What the trek taught me was everybody is different,” says Mr Javed. “But then when you remove the hierarchy and when you take off people’s job titles, we are at the end of the day humans, and we support each other.”

Read a personal account of the Gobi Challenge.

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