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Appreciating Kilimanjaro

                      The most fulfilling way to climb Kilimanjaro is raising funds for a good cause: Helen and I found something that inspired us. Kilimanjaro was more than just a mountain to climb or something to conquer, we wanted to make a difference as well as a lasting impact. We discovered a school in Tanzania that boards orphaned children, taking them in, sheltering them, educating them, and assuring that they have the proper healthcare needed. When we ultimately decided to climb Kilimanjaro we did not have a lot of preparation time, so we raised funds with the little time we did have, however, any amount that was raised made an unimaginable difference to these kids. We created flyers and posted them all over and vocalized our mission on social media in order to help raise funds for these children. This made our climb that much more worth it, knowing that every step we took on that mountain was contributing to bettering the lives of these children.

                    The day after our climb Helen and I brought school supplies to meet them. We were extremely excited to see them, but a little nervous at the same time. The feeling of what we did can’t even be described or put into words. Not only did we climb the “Rooftop of Africa”, but we were also realizing the amount of influence we could potentially have on people’s lives. Someone met us from our hotel and we walked to the school to meet them. It was an all girls school and they were so excited to see us when we got there. We were taken on a tour of the grounds and led into a classroom where all the children were. Helen and I introduced ourselves and discussed a little bit about the experience of climbing the mountain, laughing as we said our feet and body were a slightly sore. Many of the students had prepared speeches for us, expressing what it truly meant to them. The moment quite literally brought Helen and I to tears. We were definitely not expecting that level of gratitude, recognition, and appreciation. We handed out all the school supplies when the teacher suggested taking a photo outside with everyone. As we walked out the girls started coming up to us, giving us hugs, and complementing us. They were incredibly sweet and kept asking when we were coming back. Helen and I were so choked up we didn’t want to leave.

                  After visiting the school, they walked us down to a house where we would meet the graduates from the program to have a wonderful Tanzanian lunch with them. We got there and saw pictures of the students on the walls displaying where each one was studying and what their occupation. It was all pretty remarkable! While we were waiting for lunch, three older girls came in and introduced themselves. They were a little shy and timid at first, but then brought out photo albums of them as kids and their friends. They shared with us what they were studying and how school was going. It was so eye-opening getting to know them. Then slowly more graduates came in, we all talked over a real authentic Tanzanian lunch. The food was delicious! We were taught how to do a few tasks, for example, carrying a bucket on our heads! I must say we did a good job and learned quickly. Then the boys started dancing for us which was the cherry on top. They were so skilled and threw in some Michael Jackson moves. We had such a good time, the air was filled with a lot of genuine joy and laughter. We all went outside and took pictures together as well gave our hugs and said our farewells.

Helen and I didnt want to leave and they kept asking us to please come back to visit. In the end, our hearts were so full and we learned so much about others, as well as ourselves. This adventure has changed our lives forever and we wanted to find a way to continue and share our experience. When we decided to raise the funds for the children, we had no idea what kind of lasting effect it would have on them or us. These kids will forever have a place in our hearts and sprouted the question of, “what now?”, in our minds. They’ve inspired us moving forward with our own futures, in which we hope to be able to share and create similar fulfillment within others. Meeting the community, climbing the mountain, and being able to appreciate it in every aspect is a gift we would love to share with you.

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