THE Bishop of Dudley has been on a mission to the top of Africa to help children in Tanzania.

The Rt Rev David Walker has been telling of his recent trek up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise cash for the maternity unit at Berega Hospital in Morogoro.

The 56-year-old was among a group of 13 people to climb for five days to an altitude of nearly 20,000 feet to the top of the highest peak in Africa.

Rt Rev Walker said: "Every year around ten people die in the attempt so it is not without risk, you can really only walk for about four or five hours a day because of the altitude but it is your feet that bear the brunt.

"The climb started at around 2,000 feet above sea level in tropical jungle then into an alpine region and then the lunar desert where nothing can grow and it looks like the surface of the moon.

"Then finally a steep ascent up the side of the volcano and you are walking above a glacier."

The trek has already raised around £10,000 for the hospital and the bishop hopes continued donations will double the total.

He said: "I visited the hospital with my wife last summer and heard stories of women walking miles to get there at the end of their pregnancy or travelling on motorbikes, bumping along while having contractions.

"I saw the orhpanages, death in childbirth is one of the main causes of death in that part of Africa.

"Women are taking on a very dangerous journey and we thought 'what can we do'?"

As he took a few steps closer to Heaven on Mount Kilimanjaro, Rt Rev Walker had time to contemplate some big questions.

He said: "People find going up mountains a very spiritual experience, it made me realise how much we rely on food, water and air and the vulnerability of humanity."

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