Youth Leadership and Training Program

Every year KI organizes a climb on Mt. Kilimanjaro to highlight different themes. Among the participants of the climb are young women and men from informal settlements in East Africa. The selection is done through a network of youth groups within which KI works. Gender and active participation in the youth groups’ activities are taken into consideration when selecting a youth. Before the climb, ten youth are sent on a 10-day training and leadership camp at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, overseen by qualified instructors of ‘Basecamp’, an organization which specializes in outward bounds activities. The youth go through physical training; are taught leadership skills; go on trekking excursions in the Masai plains; do team-building self-reliance exercises; rock climbing; and adventure training.

The participants are presented with tasks and challenges, followed by reflection, critical appraisal and application. The training creates strength in meeting adversity and nurturing resiliencies, enabling participants to better face all sorts of issues that spring up in the day-to-day life. The adventure touch both on team ethics as well as individual participation.

Bonding plays a key role in team building and teaches youth the ability to trust and to rely on others within a group, whilst making sure each person is participating in the work that needs to be done. After the training, the youth are more self-reliant and motivated, and with a greater discipline to perform tasks within a group.

Yet KI found that the hardest exercise for the youth remains the ‘Solo’ exercise. During 36 hours, each youth is kept in isolation in the forest, with no more than a plastic sheet for cover, a blanket and very little food and water which they must ration. They cannot move away from their location and cannot talk. Instead, they must meditate on their past, their present and their future. Felix Oduor, KI Project Coordinator, who participated in the first camp in 2006 said “In the slum, you are continuously surrounded by hundreds of people, you are part of a moving mass, with no time for yourself and to assess where you really are. This exercise enables you to look deep inside yourself and helps brings out some harsh personal assessments”

To date, more than 60 youth have participated in the pre-climb camps. KI President, Tim Challen, said “There is no doubt the camps have had a huge impact on the youth who have participated, providing them with an important reference point in their lifes. KI is looking at ways to have more youth participate in this kind of training throughout the year.”

KI welcomes sponsors to assist more youth undergo the training. If interested, please contact Judy Waithira at: waithira@kilimanjaroninitiative.org