Pamela Fenech, 31, Accountant & Auditor
How did you become interested in the Kilimanjaro Challenge?
It all started on a typical gloomy Monday morning, when my best friend Maria, today one of the participants of Kilimanjaro Challenge, suggested the challenge to me whilst joking over a bucket list that we were compiling for the next 10 years.
I took the liberty to suggest it later on to my teenage son, Brad Lee, who is also best friends with Maria. He was passing through quite a difficult time, mostly because his best friend had just passed away. I thought it would be a good idea to do the challenge together, to bond more and help him overcome such a difficult time.
He loved the idea and I immediately contacted Keith Marshall the coordinator of the Kilimanjaro Challenge. He introduced us to the challenge and to the cause. The Kilimanjaro Challenge is about climbing the highest free-standing mountain the world in the hope of reaching the summit to part-finance a home for 100 deaf, blind and disabled children in Awasi, Kenya.
Great injustice and inequality exist in Africa, where disabled children are totally neglected by society, who are unable or unwilling to support them and left to fend for themselves. The state does not help since it does not provide them with a basic welfare system. These children touched our hearts and fund raising for them is the least we can do to give them a chance of a normal life.
My son, Maria and I are totally dedicated and committed to this challenge. Since October we have been organizing a number of fund raising activities that have proven to be a success and we are closer to reaching our target. We are also training together and really looking forward to the challenge and the journey that comes with it.
Martine Cassar, works at UNHCR
Who will you be helping – which charity?
The Kilimanjaro challenge is being carried for the seventh time and will be raising Eur60,000 to part finance another project, led by the Maltese NGO Missionary Movement “Jesus in thy Neighbour” led by Monsignor Gorg Grima.
This year, the Missionary Movement “Jesus in thy Neighbour” is celebrating the Silver Jubilee. During these last 25 years, since its inception the Movement took the responsibility to care for orphans suffering with AIDS or having any form of physical or mental disability. All children supported by the Missionary Movement are under the age of 12 years. Currently, the Missionary Movement has: 33 homes in Brazil, 133 homes in Ethiopia and 34 homes in Kenya.
Maria Borg, 32, works with the European Low Fares Airline Association
Why choose such an extreme, physically demanding way to help out?
I love nothing more than taking on a meaningful challenge – one that gets me to focus and test my strengths (and weaknesses), both physically and mentally. I chose to attempt the Kilimanjaro trek in order to have an ultimate goal to work towards, in the course of this year. I recall the satisfaction and sense of achievement I felt when I completed my first Half Marathon within the time I set myself and I’m sure I’ll enjoy this tougher challenge even more. I have learnt in the last few months of working on our fundraising that the Kilimanjaro Challenge truly is a journey which tests one’s perseverance and determination – and what better way to end the journey other than at the summit of the tallest free-standing mountain in the world!
Jenny Oakley, 39, Nurse
How are you training to take on such a challenge? How are you preparing yourself physically and mentally and will you need any special equipment?
Technically mountain training for Kilimanjaro doesn’t need to start very early, 4 to 5 months should be enough to build adequate muscle and stamina for the mountain, having said that it always depends on your level of fitness when you start. Since we are a large group of different fitness levels our group training started in October. The group started by hiking and walking together for extended periods of time once a week. Now we are training mostly on Sundays, this helped us to bond as a group as well as started to prepare us for the mountain. In addition to hiking every member of the group was expected to start an exercise regime, that included walking/jogging, aerobic or cardio work (an exercise routine that raises the heartbeat) a couple of times a week, and exercises to build up the legs. We should peek physically in August and training will tail down the closer we get to the Mountain, to be well rested and to prevent any injuries before we leave.
Personally, I have been attending a club/gym Gx-1 at Le Meridien. They offer a wide variety of different classes that include strength, cardio and core, I try and catch 4/5 classes a week, and along with that I try and cover 15/20km a week walking/jogging. Since I started mountain training I have never felt better and I have lost, as an after-effect, at least 9 kilos of weight and several inches, and basically I am in the best shape ever.
Charmaine Zahra, 27, Scientist (M.Sc.) and Medical student
Do you train alone or in a group?
I train alone, as I can move at my own pace. However, at times I prefer having someone else to train with, as I enjoy the company, but the logistics very often get too complicated to meet up and find a suitable time as everyone has their own schedule. We meet once a week as a whole group for a 4 to 5 hour trek, building towards an 8 hour trek in the upcoming months visiting some of the most picturesque places in Malta and Gozo.
Rita Vella, 55, Scuba Diving Instructor
Describe where you will be going… the terrain, weather, what you hope to see and experience.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the world. A dormant Volcano, at its highest point, Uhuru Peak, those bold enough to dare to climb it, get to view Tanzania’s sprawling landscapes from 5,895m above sea level.
Whilst the three peaks, Uhuro (Kibo), Mawnezi and Shira are still covered in ice, the trail along the route provides a spectacular array of vegetation, fauna and flora, both endemic and not, with the lower altitudes typically forest and the middle-grounds heather and moorland. Due to its geographical location, notwithstanding our 2000m elevation starting point, the weather along the route is expected to change on a daily basis from the typical heat characteristic of African plains to tropical showers and sub-zero temperatures.
As we ascend and the air thins out, we expect to witness crisper weather conditions from those experienced in the forest region that will be, probably, wet and humid. Vegetation will decrease and the terrain will change to rocky surfaces dotted with boulders and rough shrubbery.
The middle-grounds are also characterised by its oversized flora such as the Lobelias, Senecios and Heather trees. These giant plants are unique to East Africa and they can be seen only on Mount Kenya, The Aberdares, Rwenzori and Mt. Kilimanjaro. In this area it is very common to see the mole rat and the four-striped mouse.
As we approach the peak and surpass the 4500m mark we enter the Alpine zone where we will experience huge variations between day and night temperatures (40°C day temperature and -0°C at night). Our last day of trekking up the Mountain will commence at midnight and will also be our first night time trek of the challenge, ensuring that we end our ascent as the sun rises over the African plains below us!
Throughout, I expect to see plants and animals that I have never seen and experience what it is like to be on top of a free standing mountain with unrestricted views of Africa! I will experience what it is like to go camping, trekking all day and not having a shower for 8 days! I want to push myself to the limit and experience the amazing feeling of reaching the summit and the overwhelming satisfaction of knowing that this is being done to ensure 100 disabled, deaf and blind children will, from now onwards, have a safe home!
An unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
Charlotte O’Donnel, 24, full-time Igaming, part-time scuba instructor
Who has been encouraging you in this endeavor and who is supporting the cause?
My dad mainly is encouraging me and supporting my cause. He has had an experience like this before with the same mountain so he is the rock that has the most influence on this decision in my life. He has achieved many things in life and is more than willing to help me achieve my goals in life too.
I have to mention also that not only him but my family, colleagues and friends will be behind me 100% of the way, which I am extremely grateful for.
Victoria Meli, 27, HR Executive
What has been the best, fun part of it till now and what is the most difficult part? Any fears?
Our fundraising events are always so much fun and they have so far proven to be a complete success. It feels great to be surrounded by friends, family and other people who all share the same enthusiasm towards our project. We are now one third in with regards to the collection of funds, we have so far collect 20,000 Euro out of the total of 60,000 Euro that we are committed to raise by September 2013.
Being quite a large team of 16 people, we sometimes experience different views, perceptions and character traits however these are usually ironed out in no time and that team spirit which bonds us prevails.
As for fears, unfortunately there’s always the risk of Altitude Sickness which is unavoidable and one cannot know how it’s going to affect him or her until we are actually climbing that mountain. The threat of the extreme conditions is also a common worry but we are taking all the necessary precautions to prepare ourselves for the worst. None of us have ever experienced anything similar before and we are so hopeful and full of enthusiasm to reach that summit that we will do all that’s possible to ensure a successful climb and conquer Kilimanjaro!
SMS numbers for donations: 50618062 Eur4.66 | 50618224 Eur11.65