JOHANNESBURG, The 6th Annual Trek4Mandela Kilimanjaro Climb in support of vulnerable girls has kicked off for South African participants from OR Tambo International Airport here Wednesday with the participants expected to reach Africa’s highest peak, Uhuru, on July 18, former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
The send-off for this year’s 23 climbers, among them Nelson Mandela Foundation Chief Executive Sello Hatang, took place Wednesday morning at OR Tambo International airport. The climbers will be led by renowned South African adventurer Sibusiso Vilane. The expedition aims to collect sanitary towels for schoolgirls.
Last year’s trek did not go as planned because one of the climbers, Gugu Zulu, died while attempting to summit. His widow, Letshego Zulu, who was one of the climbers last year, will this year again join the climbers.
The tragedy won’t halt the cause, instead more people want to help. Vilane said this time around a different strategy would be used. “We are going to manage situations like that quite early before it’s too late. This year I am not going to split the group, we are going to stay together each step of the way which will give me enough time to assess everyone and make the right call.”
Richard Mabaso from Caring4Girls said the gruelling expedition would not only honour Madiba’s legacy, but remember their brother, Gugu Zulu. “We cannot therefore stay and not go to Kilimanjaro because of what happened. In fact we are more challenged to do a lot more because our dear brother gave his life for this cause. Now we have the Madiba legacy and the Gugu Zulu legacy to carry through.”
Among the trekkers is South Africa filmmaker Neo Matsunyane and for him and two others the journey will start at home.
“We decided to go by road on motorbikes to raise awareness on issues of gender violence and talking to a lot of men. We will be travelling, taking the sanitary tissues to all the towns and countries. We are going to challenge Government to donate.”
In preparation for the climb, the trekkers hiked up the Drakensberg in South Africa to acclimatise to an altitude of close to 3,000 feet above sea level. It was a trial run of how to cope with possible symptoms of mountain sickness when on the actual expedition.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK