The geographical titan that is Mount Kilimanjaro will soon be the backdrop for 17 members of the Kilimanjaro Challenge 9 expedition. This is the ninth edition of Dun George Grima‘s philanthropic collaboration with Keith Marshall. For the past 9 years, Marshall has been training volunteers to physically, emotionally and mentally prepare themselves for the mountainous ascent and back.
Every step made on Kilimanjaro’s terrain is all for a worthy cause. Every year, fundraising activities leading up to the climb have accumulated donations for Dun George’s projects in Africa. All of this comes together with the courage of those who take up the challenge, and there aren’t enough hats in the world to be taken off to them. We’ve caught up with team leader David Schembri to see how it’s all going.
Who is David Schembri?
I’m Dave. I’m 28. My day job involves running a retail business. In my free time, I enjoy watching or participating in different sports, whether at a pitch or a lazy Sunday on the couch with my friends. I also enjoy cooking and even more importantly, eating.
What made you decide to take up the Kilimanjaro Challenge?
I got to know about the challenge through Facebook. Keith Marshall, the coordinator, was having a go at someone about wanting to sign up her son for the challenge and it intrigued me. It seemed like something different and out there. I went to my first meeting, where all I heard was ‘it’s tough’, ‘it’s dangerous’, ‘it’s intense’ and ‘it’s hard work’. So, I thought to myself, why not?
The cherry on the cake was that the challenge would also be tied to a charity. Keith proposed a project, which is building a kindergarten in Ethiopia costing around €70,000, so apart from our adventure, the bigger challenge is raising that amount.
You’ve been training for the challenge since February. Could you tell us more about the process?
Training is a bitch! Apart from the fact that planning fund raising events takes up most of our free time, we also train as a team 3 times a week, which completely terminates your social life. We set off on a 15-20k trek on early Sunday mornings, then Monday evenings we do another 12-15k trek. On Wednesdays, we do the blessed Hills. The toughest part must be giving up your social life. My friends officially hate Kili.
What dynamics as an individual do you bring to the group?
I try to help everyone in the team as much as possible, whether it involves training or to plan and execute fund raising events. Being the team leader, I also have to try to keep everyone happy and on the same wavelength, whilst making sure that everyone and everything is on track.
If you had to take one prohibited item with you up Kili, what would it be?
A bottle of Moët for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, booze is not allowed, as it may induce altitude sickness.
What theme song would you like to have played as you trek up Kili?
A theme song might get a bit repetitive over 8 hours, so I would take the Sound Salon mix, as it lasts a couple of hours and it’s pumping!
Get to know the other volunteers, meet Celine Xuereb.