2018 climb marked KI’s 13th annual climb, continuing to underline how young women and men play a vital role in the positive development of communities. KI and KI USA selected ten young women and men from Kenya, Tanzania and the USA who took part in a 10-day youth leadership camp at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro and were then joined by 9 other climbers from the private sector to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The youth training started by assembling all the 10 youth -2 from USA,4 from Nairobi,2 from Siaya -Kogelo and 2 from Tanzania –at YMCA in Nairobi on 25th February.
Whilst in Nairobi at the start of their journey, youth visited Kibera where they were able to interact with Trinity Boxing Club, a boxing club using boxing and martial arts as a way to engage young persons. They also stopped by the Kibera Psycho Social Support (PSS) team, a group engaging young women and men on mental health and wellness issues. Lastly they visited Kibera Youth Reform, a group of reformed criminals who are now engaging in positive community development programs.
Youth climbers in Kibera during visit to Trinity Boxing Club, PSS and Youth Reform.
After the visit to Kibera, the youth embarked on the journey to Oloitoktok in the Masaai plain,s just at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro, for a life changing youth leadership training camp. A number of team-building and individual outdoor activities were used to prepare young people for the climb and how to become better agent of change in their respective communities.
The training is challenging and requires mental strength, commitment, dedication, concentration and team work.
For the first time, one youth did not complete the training camp - too far out of their comfort zone. During such camps, certain issues may rise to the surface and emotions can run high.
We finished the training with the participants ready to conquer the mountain, very upbeat and inspired to face any obstacle in life.
The team was energetic and everyone was so excited to start the journey to the summit, following the 7-days Rongai Route.
Nine youth and their two instructors went up to the mountain, and they were joined by nine non-sponsored climbers from the private sector in the US and Europe. The raining season came early and it rained most of the day, every day. At Mawenzi Tarn camp (4,300m) a couple of climbers had to quit: one suffered from nausea and stomach issues; the other had a really bad cold.
They crossed the saddle, faces whipped by rain and snow, washing away the nearby footprints of a leopard – the climbers saw the remains of highland calf lower down the slopes. At Kibo Hut, the climbers got into theirs sleeping bags hoping the skies would clear for the final ascent to the summit.
Midnight, the climbers pushed through their anxiety and lined up out in the cold. The moment of truth had come: how will they overcome high altitude? How much snow at the summit? How long will it take to reach the top of their aspirations?
The climbers set off into the cold night… Half way up the scree, at 5,300 meters, the weather changed... it got much colder, the clouds came in as did the snow and wind. They pushed on through, digging their way up the slope, at good pace. Then one of the youth got caught by the cold, badly. Hypothermia? He was taken down the mountain fast. The rest persevered, in the name of ALL, reaching Gilman's Point shortly after. No going further, too much snow, it did not matter, wisdom prevailed, and in any case we had reached the top of the crater –they went as far as they could!
All made it down back safely, energy limits low... walking through streams; tackling the mud and rocks. But they came down as ONE! No names needed, in the end they were one team, one dream... the dream to believe in hope and overcome any challenges that lie before them. That is what KI is all about! The climb was a great success despite the harsh weather and high altitude.