Mzansi celebrities and leading business personalities will attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in support of impoverished girls.
They will begin climbing on July 14 and hopefully reach its summit on Madiba’s birthday on July 18.
This is in support of Trek4Mandela, an initiative that aims to supply sanitary towels to schoolgirls to ensure their schooling is not interrupted by the lack of this necessity.
The chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang, says the main idea behind the initiative is to keep girls in school.
They had initially planned to take only 27 “ambassadors” up Mount Kilimanjaro – the number represents the number of years the former president spent in prison. However, they were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to participate.
“We still hope that at least 27 will make it to the summit,” he grins.
To prepare for the big day, the participants have been climbing the Drakensberg mountains to build up the stamina and strength they will need to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro.
“All of us are so committed. There are people who will also be running. The big thing behind it is that it is also for the importance of your health,” he says.
He adds: “The schools we are choosing are in far-flung areas where there are hardly any services. We want to give hope to the hopeless.”
Tebogo ‘ProVerb’ Thekisho
Popular rapper and Idols presenter ProVerb is not new to mountain climbing. This year, he will be climbing for the second time in support of the Trek4Mandela initiative. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for the same cause last year.
He says climbing is different every time.
Thekisho says he is doing this again because it is a “genuine and incredible” initiative that makes a difference in the lives of girls.
“This year, the target is so great. We are taking a different route,” he says. “Physiologically, I’m ready,” he adds.
Two weeks ago, ProVerb and other Trek4Mandela ambassadors climbed the Drakensberg in preparation for the big day.
He has also been taking walks to prepare himself. His advice to the new climbers is to keep calm and take it slowly.
“Kilimanjaro is personalised differently for everyone,” he adds.
Mpho ‘Mo-G’ Madise
Radio personality Mpho “Mo-G” Madise of Kaya FM has been hitting the streets to prepare for Trek4Mandela by handing out stickers to make people aware of the initiative.
“We will be going up Kilimanjaro from July 14 to raise funds for sanitary towels for girls. Girls miss out on 15 days of school, 15 days of not having a basic need, which is sanitary towels,” he says.
Madise is excited and has put in a lot of work to prepare for the gruelling climb.
“I’ve done the Drakensberg a couple of times. We did the Westcliff Steps, which is not easy.
“It’s such a great initiative. Obviously, I had to have my hand twisted as it was not easy for me to decide to go up Kilimanjaro, but I was eventually convinced and am really looking forward to it,” he says.
Madise had to make a few adjustments here and there, and it had not been easy to prepare for the climb. The end result is what keeps him motivated.
“At the end of the day, we are doing it for the girls,” he says.
The chief officer of corporate affairs at Vodacom, Maya Makanjee, says she only decided a few weeks ago that she wanted to be part of the Trek4Mandela campaign.
“I’m only doing this to make a difference in young girls’ lives. Mandela campaigned to raise awareness and, as a woman, I need to stand up for these girls because they are afraid to voice their challenges,” she says.
She says what makes her sad is that many girls can’t go to school because they don’t have sanitary towels.
“What about their dignity?” she asks.
Speaking about the climb, she says: “Six days climbing up and down – it’s going to be the most hectic experience of my life.”
Makanjee has been taking long walks and recently went up the Magaliesberg mountain range to prepare herself for Mount Kilimanjaro.
“We need courage, determination, support and love on this day,” she adds.
SABC2 Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas believes Trek4Mandela is the most unbelievable and fantastic initiative.
“I have reached the point where I’m tired of being the one speaking to people about their experiences when they are out doing good.
“It’s my turn now to leave the comfort of my studio, and go out and do well by climbing the mountain and trying to raise funds for these girls,” she says.
“It’s about time I get out of my comfort zone and do something I have never dreamt I would do in my life,” she says.
Manas has never climbed up a mountain before.
“In fact, I have never even spent a night in a tent. I tried it once and left in the middle of the night because it was so uncomfortable. I went to sleep in the back of my car,” she says.
“We’ve been training nonstop. We’ve been going on hikes all the time, climbing, cycling and doing strength training. I’m starting to like cycling,” she says.
“There is so much good coming out of this in terms of my fitness levels, but it’s the mental strength that will get me to the top. I know it’s for a good cause.
“What motivates me the most is that for every single step I take, Lil-lets and Always sanitary towels are being donated – one pack to each girl,” she adds.
. As a reader, you can help the Trek4Mandela ambassadors achieve their goal.
All you need to do is SMS the name of your chosen ambassador to 42513 and pledge R30. Each climber will choose a school of his/her choice to which they want to donate sanitary towels