News From Kilimanjaro Initiative

Press Release

9th Annual Mount Kilimanjaro Climb Brings Together 25 Urban Youth and Business Executives to Highlight Need for Youth Education and Leadership

New York/Nairobi, 3 February 2014 – This week, 25 climbers from Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and the United States of America will move mountains for education and leadership by participating in the ninth annual climb of Mount Kilimanjaro organized by Kilimanjaro Initiative (KI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kilimanjaro Initiative, which has been recognized for its work by the United Nations Office for Sport, Development and Peace, highlights the impact of sports on individual and community empowerment as well as the strong benefit of inter-continental youth exchanges. Ten young women and men from grassroots community programs in New York City and Africa will participate on the climb. The youth were selected for their active roles in improving their disadvantaged communities. They are sponsored by the United Nations Federal Credit Union and private donors. The youth will join representatives from the private sector, including business executives and filmmakers from New York City. Youth participating in the 2014 climb are:

Kevin Owino Adundo - 23 years old, from Korogocho in Nairobi, Kenya; involved in an alumni program set up by Fight For Peace, a Brazilian and UK-based NGO that uses boxing as a way to engage and mentor young women and men.

Cynthia Faith Aroko - 19 years old, from Orecha, western Kenya; working as an intern at the Sauti Kuu Foundation (SKF) founded by Auma Obama to enable young people and their families to set up income-generating activities so as to guarantee their economic security.

Ricky Chauncey-Edmonds - 23 years old, from Queens in New York, USA; activities specialist at the LIC YMCA teaching high school students about fitness.

Yahiela Eliakim - 21 years old, from Manhattan in New York, USA; volunteer at the Andrew Glover Foundation that helps kids in the US criminal justice system.

John Senteu Letite - 23 years old, from Enkutoto, Kenya; an unemployed youth living in the Maasai plains who asked to join this year’s climb when he saw the KI group training near his home in 2013.

Furaha Modesti Lymo - 25 years old, from Marangu, Tanzania; involved with the Sembeti Youth, a self-help youth group that provides tuition to primary school students.

Makgotle Johannes Malebana - 23 years old, from Johannesburg, South Africa; representing Tomorrow Trust that pioneered an education-focused strategy to help orphans and vulnerable children transform their lives.

Carmen Miranda - 18 years old; from Harlem in New York, USA; worked with Creative Arts Workshops for Kids (CAW) last summer and is now focused on applying to school. CAW improves the lives of underserved youth through the use of visual, performing, and technology arts.

Vincent Odhiambo Oduor - 23 years old, from Sinkul village in the Nyanza Province, Kenya; is a graduate of Undugu Society of Kenya (USK) non formal school in Kibera, Kenya. USK was founded to improve the lives of children living in the streets of Nairobi.

Tanishka Thomas - 23 years old, from Brooklyn in New York, USA; involved in Red Hook Initiative’s Young Adult Program that empowers youth to overcome systematic social inequities.

“The climb organized by the Kilimanjaro Initiative provides a platform for youth from different cultures and traditions to explore and discover the commonalities that bind them together as part of a global community,” said Auma Obama, Founder of the Sauti Kuu Foundation, who also climbed to the summit of Africa with KI in 2013 and, every year since 2012, has had a youth participating from her foundation. “Young people learn about each other and about their own potential, on how they can actively participate in improving their lives as well as that of others. It is exciting to be part of the lead that Kilimanjaro Initiative is taking to help forge our future community leaders.”

“Before the climb, we send youth on a 10-day training camp in the Maasai plains, at the foot of the mountain,” said Tim Challen, Founder of Kilimanjaro Initiative and Business Development Manager at United Nations Federal Credit Union. “The program revolves around orienteering, team-building and learning leadership skills. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world (5,895 meters or 19,341 feet above sea level), can be a powerful reference point in one’s life. It teaches you that to reach your aspirations you need to understand your environment, work as a team, have self-belief and persevere. On the mountain, the youth team up with representatives from the private and public sectors and, without the social barriers often encountered in our societies, this creates positive synergies towards all-embracing urban development.”

“At the training base camp and in the Maasai plains, the youth have discussed their lives and the issues and problems they have faced, learning about their own challenges and shared similarities,” said Michael Connery, a participant in the 2014 climb and former CEO and President of United Nations Federal Credit Union, a sponsor of KI since 2006. “This is my fifth climb and in the past I have seen many youth come off the mountain inspired and motivated to make greater changes in their communities. We keep in touch with all of them.”

In addition to the climb, the Kilimanjaro Initiative offers training to urban youth in Africa, enabling them to develop skills and establish contacts that can benefit the youth groups they represent and in this way, also overcome the dangers of unemployment and relevant social issues. In 2013, the Kilimanjaro Initiative - in partnership with the Undugu Society - upgraded a sport field in Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya to provide activities for children and residents in the community. The organization has also partnered with Fight For Peace to develop their alumni program in Kenya, using boxing to engage and mentor young persons in disadvantaged communities. In 2012, Kilimanjaro Initiative partnered with UN Women and the African Union on an historic pan-African climb to raise awareness and national comments for UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon’s global campaign to End Violence against Women and Girls. To this end, Kilimanjaro Initiative led 70 climbers from 36 African countries to the summit of Africa.

Since 2006, the Kilimanjaro Initiative has brought more than 400 youth, athletes, musicians as well as sustainable development activists from the private and public sectors from more than 50 countries to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

About Kilimanjaro Initiative
Kilimanjaro Initiative (KI) was founded in 2005 by Tim Challen, an employee of the United Nations Federal Credit Union, after he was shot during an armed robbery in Nairobi, Kenya. The organization’s main objective is to encourage youth to have self-belief and to assist in providing opportunities that will enable them to take on a constructive role in their communities. As a key feature of its activities, KI organizes an annual ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The climb exemplifies how sport can be used as a tool towards the development of a community and does so by bringing together various urban stakeholders, including youth and representatives of the private and public sectors. Learn more at

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For further information, please contact: Elisabeth Philippe, Corporate Communications Manager, UNFCU, Tel: +1 347 686 6776 Fax: +1 347 686 6466, E-mail:, Website:; or, Timothy Challen, Founder, Kilimanjaro Initiative, Tel: +41787378003 E-mail:

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