A journey of a thousand miles, they say starts with one step. I have come to hold that to be true especially as I prepared for my Kilimanjaro trek.
It all started when I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for my favourite charity – Compassion UK, one of the world’s leading child development and advocacy organizations.
Compassion UK provides education and support to less privileged children globally, who otherwise will not have the opportunity. I had never done anything like it before – fundraising or mountain climbing, so I am really not sure what possessed me into making such a decision but after I signed up, I decided there was no going back.
My target was to raise a minimum of £2,000 or find sponsorship for at least 2 children. All funds were going towards the development of a HIV Support centre in Arusha, Tanzania.
I wrote out a list of creative ideas to raise funds and set out on a journey to help transform the lives of children for good. Bit by bit, the funds started to trickle in and with the support of family, friends, church members and colleagues; I was able to exceed my target.
Preparing for my trip turned out to be a lot of fun especially as 2 of my dear friends and my brother decided to join me on the trip. We spent hours in the gym; training, running, cycling and also went on a 6 hour practice trek up Box Hill, Surrey, UK. I guess the additional dividend of a challenge like this is that you are forced to improve your health, fitness and lifestyle.
We carried on with the fundraising campaign and also shopping for our hiking kit. I bought everything I imagined I would need to survive on a mountain for 6 days – from high temperature to freezing temperature, high altitude and reducing levels of oxygen gear. All through the preparation period, we had immense support and encouragement from Compassion UK and Rightfoot Adventure (the company that organises challenges for Compassion and other charities).
On the 20th of January, 2017, after months of fundraising and preparation, the day finally came for our trip.
I headed to the airport with my friends where we met up with the other members of our amazing team. I was amazed at how much and how quickly we all bonded. It really is great to work with people who share the same interests and passion as you do. We arrived at Kilimanjaro airport around 8PM, mentally ready to take on Mount Kilimanjaro and for the adventure of a life time.
The next day, we visited on of the Compassion projects. I always thought this Kilimanjaro trek challenge will give me an opportunity to change lives for good. However, the visit to the Compassion project has changed my life forever. Touched to see the opportunity that the kids had been given and how much they appreciated it, I was amazed by the testimony of parents and previously sponsored children who had graduated and become leaders in their field and communities.
Moved by the amount of ongoing work by the staff and the local church to help transform the lives of children, and the impact that was being made, Every penny spent has definitely been worth it.
The day came when the Kilimanjaro trek finally started. We drove for about 4 hours to the starting point of the Rongai route where we met our guides and porters and the trek commenced. We trekked for about 4 hours (approximately 4 miles) to an elevation of 2,671m and spent the first night at Simba camp – my first experience of sleeping in a sleeping bag and a tent!
As we progressed up the Kilimanjaro mountain, temperature dropped and the air got thinner with less oxygen. The vegetation gradually reduced and by day 4 it had totally disappeared. At this point, some of us had started to react to the high altitude but we were all determined to carry on. With encouragement from each other and the immense support from our guides we pressed on – one step at a time as the guides kept reminding us to go “pole pole” (slowly slowly).
Finally, it was summit night. We camped at Kibo hut at an elevation of 4720M. After an early dinner, we were sent to bed between 6 and 7PM only to be woken up at 11PM for the journey ahead.
At this point, everything in me wondered what I was doing on a freezing mountain in the middle of the night!
Starting midnight, the team lined up and started up very slowly to the summit. I suppose this is the toughest part of the Kilimanjaro trek. We had spent an average of 6 to 8 hours trekking each day over the last 4 days. Some of us had aches and pains and wondered if we will complete the Kilimanjaro trek. However, all the fear, anxiety and pain disappeared the moment we hit the top! There was such a feeling of achievement and fulfilment. The view of the sun rising over Kilimanjaro was absolutely stunning.
So far, our team has raised over £24,000 pounds and over 50 children in different countries have been sponsored. I can’t express my joy and gratitude to God for the entire challenge.
Looking back, I can confidently say that the Mount Kilimanjaro trek to raise funds for charity has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
The Kilimanjaro Trek post was written by Folusho Aluko and he actually did the Kilimanjaro Trek!