The Trek4Mandela annual expedition summiting Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary through two climbs to make a dent in the harsh reality of period poverty plaguing many young girls in South Africa.
The expedition on Mandela Day, July 18, was started by the founder and chief executive officer of the Imbumba Foundation, Richard Mabaso, and Sibusiso Vilane in 2012 to honour Nelson Mandela’s living legacy that inspired not only Africans, but others across the globe.
In partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the duo pitched the expedition to form part of initiatives taking place on Nelson Mandela Day in support of the Caring4Girls programme.
The programme, founded by the Imbumba Foundation, seeks to address period poverty still faced by many girls in South Africa and the rest of the globe by providing sanitary towels, puberty education and menstrual hygiene support to adolescent girls.
The foundation reported that with research showing girls missing school and others dropping out completely owing to a lack of adequate menstrual hygiene support, the Imbumba Foundation’s Caring4Girls and Trek4Mandela initiatives tackled this issue by raising funds and awareness to keep girls in school.
To date, the initiative has empowered more than 1.5 million girls in South Africa and neighbouring countries and the foundation plans to continue its mission in other countries in Africa, including Tanzania, eSwatini, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi and Botswana to reach two million girl beneficiaries at the end of this year.
To mark the special trek, the Nelson Mandela Foundation announced that the expedition would comprise two climbs. The first will mark the official 10 years of the Trek4Mandela summit on Mandela Day come July 18.
The second climb would comprise a group of women from all walks of life on August 9 in celebration of Women's Day.
The organisation said the 30 climbers would be led by Vilane, a Trek4Mandela expedition leader, mountaineer and adventurer.
“I am very proud of how far the Trek4Mandela and Caring4Girls programmes have come over the past 10 years. I remember my first Trek4Mandela summit when I invited Sibusiso to accompany me with the hope of helping the only school in my village. Ten years later, we have empowered over 1.5 million beneficiaries and encouraged more corporates to get involved to help us alleviate and end period poverty,” said Mabaso.
Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Sello Hatang said: “I feel honoured to have been given this opportunity by the Imbumba team and our funders on the 10th anniversary of such an important initiative. This being my fifth climb makes it especially meaningful to me as I am hoping that through this initiative, we will continue to help those who are vulnerable in our society. It is only through you that we can succeed in what we are trying to do. These efforts are about planting a seed for a more just and inclusive society.”
The Trek4Mandela expedition has seen more than 300 local and international climbers participating, including local celebrities and leading business leaders such as popular rapper and Idols presenter Tebogo “ProVerb” Thekisho, chief officer of corporate affairs at Vodacom Maya Makanjee, and SABC2 Morning Live presenter Leanne Manas