There was great excitement when the 27 climbers of the Trek4Mandela campaign got together yesterday to start their journey to climb Africa’s highest mountain.
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Miss South Africa Liesl Laurie were among those at the send-off event in Johannesburg earlier today.
Mbalula said that he planned to join the climbers in summiting Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5 895m above sea level, in 2016. He also pledged R100 000 to the campaign this year.
Trek4Mandela, an initiative for Nelson Mandela International Day, is in its fourth year. It benefits Caring4Girls, a programme to provide sanitary towels and menstrual hygiene information to underprivileged girls in rural communities. Since it was established in 2012, Trek4Mandela has attracted massive interest from the government, the private sector and NGOs locally and internationally.
It has generated support for over 50 000 beneficiaries, mainly in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Many of the climbers – as well as those sending them off – made known their enthusiasm on social media:
— Liesl Laurie (@LieslLaurie) July 13, 2015
— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) July 13, 2015
— Real Steven Taylor (@StevenTaylorSA) July 13, 2015
Why the climb?
The climb is led by Sibusiso Vilane, the first black African to summit Mount Everest, and the founder of the Imbumba Foundation, Richard Mabaso. It celebrates Madiba’s legacy through supporting the education of South African girls who cannot afford sanitary towels.
Yase Godlo, the manager of Mandela Day and Outreach at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said to the South African Broadcasting Corporation that the objective of the climb was to help 270 000 girls across the country, or “30 000 girls per province”.
It has been reported that girls miss up to 50 days of school a year each because they cannot afford sanitary towels.
The climbers expect to summit Kilimanjaro by 18 July, Madiba’s birthday and Nelson Mandela International Day. There are 27 climbers in the group, one for each year that Mandela was in prison. They include hip-hop artist Proverb and television news presenter Leanne Manas. Each climber aims to raise at least R1.5-million for Caring4Girls.
They will return to South Africa on 20 July. For more information on how you can contribute, visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation site. You can also sms the word “girlchild” to 42513 to pledge R30.