As my days as a high schooler are nearing an end, I want to do something special. When I was in the 5th grade, my Mom organized a charity climb up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a local non-profit organization based in Central Oregon that was building an orphanage in a rural community in Kenya. I was fortunate enough to travel to Tanzania and climb part way up Mount Kilimanjaro before I had to return to the base because of my young age. Ever since this incredible experience, I have had the desire to return to Kili and summit it. However, I want to make this climb more than just an athletic endeavor. I want to turn it into a project in which I can create social change.
I recently attended the Summer Leadership Institute at Brown University where I took a course in Leadership in Global Health. The final project in this program was to create an “Action Plan”, which is a way for the students in the program to apply what they learned during their time at Brown. The goal was to develop an effective Action Plan that focused on creating social change within a pressing issue that I was passionate about. When I arrived at Brown, I already had a few general ideas of what I knew I wanted to do for my Action Plan. I knew that I wanted to organize a charity climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, and I knew that I wanted to find a trustworthy organization based in Africa that I could donate the money I raised to.
When I was doing my research on potential organizations to partner with, I came across SHE (Sustainable Health Enterprises) and fell in love with their work and ideas. SHE recognizes the need for equal education opportunities for girls and women in Rwanda, and found that one obstacle that has been overlooked far too long is access to feminine hygiene products. This issue is important because many female students opt to miss school every month during their cycle rather than face humiliation. SHE is helping women jumpstart social businesses to manufacture and distribute affordable menstrual pads made from banana fibers.
As I learned more about SHE, I appreciated that they are not just providing temporary aid to women and girls, but rather creating entrepreneurs and a much more sustainable solution to the problems that women in sub-Saharan Africa face when trying to receive equal education opportunities. I have contacted SHE to see if they would like to partner with me for this climb, and am waiting for a response. For more information about SHE, please check out their amazing website! http://sheinnovates.com
I would like to have around 10 to 12 climbers participate on this climb, and each climber will be asked to raise a minimum of $5,000. We will be doing the climb with Summit Expeditions and Nomadic Experience (SENE), the same group that we climbed with back in 2010. Simon Mtuy, the founder and director of SENE is an incredible leader, athlete, and advocate. I have an immense amount of respect for him and his work, which is why I want to use his company for the climb.
My family’s past experience climbing Kilimanjaro with Simon was, to say the least, amazing. The SENE team is educated, kind, helpful, and supportive. Everyone in the climbing group becomes a family, enjoys freshly cooked delicious meals in a huge tent, dances and sings at the end of each climbing day, is looked out for by the guides and porters, and is able to soak in the beauty of the climb. If you want more information about SENE, please take a look at this link! http://www.nomadicexperience.com/karibu-welcome/
For the SHE climb we will be doing the Lemosho Route, which is the same spectacular route I did back in 5th grade. The time spent with SENE will begin on June 16, 2015 and will last 11 days/10 nights, with eight of those days spent on the mountain. Please consider this your official invitation to join me on the climb of a lifetime, where you will have the opportunity to contribute to an amazing cause that is changing hundreds of women’s lives in Africa!
I look forward to hearing from you.