Richard Mabaso from Imbumba foundation . Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Richard Mabaso from Imbumba foundation . Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA

Trek4Mandela: A summit for hope

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Feb 17, 2021

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When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2019, little did we know the impact it would have on our plans, livelihoods and dreams.

For years, I have always had the desire to summit Africa’s highest peak Mount Kilimanjaro.

This dream was finally to be realised through Imbumba Foundation which works in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The summit has a huge objective in mind – to raise funds for the Caring4Girls programme that empowers young girls and affords them access to healthy sanitary products.

But due to Covid-19 the 2020 Trek4Mandela annual expedition to summit Africa’s highest peak on Mandela Day, July 18, 2020, was put on hold.

While the decision seemed like it was a major setback, it afforded me extra time to prepare for this year’s event.

February marked the beginning of the official training for this year and participants; plans have kicked in.

As you are aware, to summit the mountain is no easy feat and can be overwhelming.

I have delved into experiences of those who have done it before and keep on learning more.

My training priorities include being mentally and physically fit and creating a positive environment around myself.

Our training sessions include: monthly hikes in Table Mountain, weekend away training in the Drakensberg and healthy active lifestyle.

What excites me the most though is that my attempt is not about me – this initiative is dear to my heart because it gives the girl child an opportunity to pursue education and equips them with leadership skills without having to miss school because of lack of sanitary pads.

The summit to Mount Kilimanjaro for Mandela Day is to address period poverty by raising funds to provide menstrual hygiene support to young disadvantaged girls.

In South Africa, menstrual hygiene is still any issue for many. The lack of access to pads has created major health issues for girls and women.

It’s estimated that about 3.7 million girls are unable to afford sanitary pads. Women and girls often don’t have enough money to buy female hygiene products.

And the adolescent girls struggling to buy female hygiene products turn to rags, socks, even notebook paper, and often lack access to clean water and private toilet facilities.

Over the past few years, Caring4Girls has received support from several people including sports and media personality Letshego Zulu, actor Clement Maosa, and the former public protector, Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela will also be climbing Kilimanjaro this year under the Trek4Mandela banner and has been a great ambassador for the event.

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