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Johannesburg - In a desperate attempt to save her son, Tebogo Tsotetsi summitted Mount Kilimanjaro, where she faced freezing temperatures and dehydration.

Tsotetsi was part of a 12-member expedition that climbed Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the purchase of a laser machine for the Johnson & Johnson Burns Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg. 

The initiative, called the Kilimanjaro Trek, aimed to raise a total of R2 million. The Smile Foundation and non-profit organisation Avela Foundation started the initiative to purchase the laser machine.

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“The climb was very challenging, but when you have a goal in your mind, you prepare yourself mentally and physically,” said Tsotetsi. 

“Some days were easy, and others were really difficult, where people just wanted to give up. On the last day, that was me. I wanted to give up. The weather was unbearable at -20˚C. My backpack and my drinking water were both frozen. When climbing, you have to drink between four and five litres a day – impossible when your water is one giant ice- block, so we were dehydrated. My body was stiff and so, so cold. Even my hair and eyebrows had frozen. But I made a promise to my son, and that kept me going.”

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The mother did the gruelling trek for her two sons, Kutlwano and Molemo, who were only three and five years old respectively when a faulty electrical socket caused a house fire in 2014. Kutlwano tragically died in the fire and Molemo sustained 50% burn injuries across his body.

Molemo receives regular laser treatments, however the costs have become very expensive for the Tsotetsi family. 

To date the expedition has raised R1.8 million, just short of the R2 million goal. With a further R200 000 to go, the Smile Foundation urges members of the public to donate towards this worthy cause.

People can donate to the cause at https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/tebogo-to-kilimanjaro.