CLIMBING KILIMANJARO: ANDRE GAUCI

What compelled you to join the Kilimanjaro Team this year?

From my early teens, I used to take part in local social activities, and was always compelled to help support initiatives that I deemed close to my heart. During my university years, I was introduced to a local fundraising group that year in year out would help collect funds in aid of Maltese children afflicted with cancer. I went in to help during the annual marathon. It was an inspiring experience, and from there on I was hooked. Helping people in need gives me a higher sense of fulfillment. I’m also a travel junkie.

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Above: KC 10 team, photo by Zigli Jonathan Borg

Some years back, I heard about the Kilimanjaro Challenge from some friends of mine. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to combine my will to be benevolent with my love for travel. Feeling their joy and excitement emanating whilst recalling their adventure, I resolved that this was something I should definitely get into. I was a late addition to the group. I had been initially introduced during a car wash that was being organised by members of the group. From then on, I became part of this wonderful family that is Kilimanjaro Challenge 10.

How are psychologically preparing yourselves?

Atop the rigorous physical sessions that we attend two to three times a week, we invest time in getting to know each other better, aiming to help us bond and tackle what lies ahead as a unified group. We manage to engage in discussion and events, we get to support our strengths and work on our weaknesses. In turn, this is effectively generating a sense of camaraderie within all of us. We also train with experienced mountaineers who’ve previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. They gives us valuable information about what to expect and where we should be heading within our training regime. We’re also being supported by the previous KC team leader, who advises us on equipment information and logistical background.

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What are your apprehensions for the journey?

First and foremost, I’m looking forward to crossing out some more countries and a new continent from my travel bucket list. I’m also quite keen to try and make acquaintances with Africa’s big five during the safari that we’ll be going on. The premise that we’ll be spending almost a whole month living as a group springs a sense of anticipation, since it could be hard to live day in day out within a group environment, suppressing personal space. According to past KC members, summit night is the epitome of the whole ascent. It’s a good share of bitter cold weather conditions, thin humid air, dark and desolate surroundings, the fear of encountering altitude sickness, all to be endured for the twelve hour approach track. Though this may sound quite terrifying, there’s always a catch linked to the hard work done.

On arrival at the summit, we should be welcomed by a spectacular sunrise over the vast African plains and the curvature of planet Earth. On top of all that, I’m mostly looking forward to go to the site where the school is going to be erected, and experience for myself the fruits of our labour. I look forward to playing with the children, speak to their parents, and observe their day-to-day lives.

If you could take one thing or person with you up the mountain, what or who would it be?

The one person I’d gladly take with me would be Nanna Salvina. She’s always concerned about all the travelling I do, my way of life and my level of sanity. Nonetheless, she’s always there to support my endeavours, although she might not agree with most of the things I end up doing. Nanna still harbours the traditional Maltese way of thought; the channel crossing to Gozo is all the travelling she’d ever dare do. I’d like to take her along to show her the beauty of this planet, as a small measure of gratitude for all the love she’s bestowed on me.

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