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 Michela Catania to see how it’s all going.
Who is Michela Catania?
I am a 25 year old full time physiotherapist currently reading for a part time Masters. I love being of help to others and I’m lucky to achieve this through my profession. In my free time, I love travelling, sailing and running. I enjoy challenges that keep me active, such as the yearly half marathon. This year, I wanted to go one step further and attempt something completely different, something I can tick off my bucket list, something rewarding for myself, the team and the children of Ethiopia.
What made you decide to take up the Kilimanjaro Challenge?
A couple of friends have already done this challenge before and always spoke of it as a great experience. The last push to join came from one of my colleagues who is also in the group. Apart from being a personal accomplishment and raising money for a great cause, Kilimanjaro has always fascinated me. It’s one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – a snow covered mountain on the equator and an ocean of green forest surrounded by dry savannah. I’m looking forward to the experience as a whole – going from the equator to the roof of Africa within a week. I’m hoping that what had seemed to be impossible now seems doable. I’m also enjoying forming happy memories with the team.
You’ve been training for the challenge since February. Could you tell us more about the process?
We’ve come a long way since then, and it’s now starting to sink in as it gets closer. The late night and early morning trekkings require a lot of commitment week after week, but each one has been an experience in itself in helping bring the group together. I do think the toughest aspect is realising the mental challenge it also involves, but meeting up and doing this together gives me the boost to stay motivated.
What dynamics as an individual do you bring to the group?
I’m always up for something different and challenging. I take on different routes I would have planned out, and I like being organised. I think all of these have come out during the past months, and I’m looking forward to working on my weak character traits by learning from others through this experience.
If you had to take one prohibited item with you up Kili, what would it be?
It’s not quite prohibited, but I’d love to have the comfort of a toilet! Having said that, it wouldn’t be the same outdoor experience!
What theme song would you like to have played as you trek up Kili?
Ben Howard’s Keep Your Head Up.
Get to know other volunteers, meet Sofia Sarkas.