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 Maressa Zahra to see how it’s all going.

Who is Maressa Zahra?

I’m 27 years old, and work as a principal auditor at the National Audit Office. I graduated in Economics and then specialised in Environmental Economics for my Masters. I enjoy spending as much time outdoors as possible, mostly trekking and walking. I also love to read, particularly classic literature, with my favourite writers being Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen. I’m also quite big on travelling, especially if it’s a hiking holiday, and I always make sure to sample the traditional cuisine of the place I’m visiting.

Maressa Zahra pic 1


What made you decide to take up the Kilimanjaro Challenge?

I had heard about the challenge many years ago and I was always intrigued by it. Towards the end of last year, I happened to get to know a person from that year’s group who was patient enough to answer my endless questions. And here I am.

You’ve been training for the challenge since February. Could you tell us more about the process?

Training with the group involves an (too) early Sunday morning trek, another trek on Monday evening, and hill climbing on Wednesdays. We are also expected to train on our own. I’m quite used to walking long distances so the most challenging training session in my case would be the Wednesday Hills. However, the toughest aspect of the entire challenge has definitely been the fact that for months I’ve had to cut back on spending time with my partner, family and friends.

Maressa Zahra pic 2


What dynamics as an individual do you bring to the group?

I think this question would be best answered by the other members of the group! Having said that, I consider myself to be one of the quieter team members. I’m very reliable and always trying to be as helpful and supportive as possible.

If you had to take one prohibited item with you up Kili, what would it be?

My gorgeous cuddly 10-year old cat, Lady. I’m definitely going to miss having her sleep on my feet whilst I’m up there, but of course she’ll be safer here in Malta.

What theme song would you like to have played as you trek up Kili?

Daydream Believer by The Monkees.

Maressa Zahra pic 4


Get to know other volunteers, meet Daniela Spiteri Fiteni.