Sello Jacob Khumalo, 29, believes that a lot can be done to restore the dignity of a girl child, especially those that come from indigent families.
Khumalo is one of a group of about 50 climbers that will be taking part in the Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Trek4Mandela expedition.
The adventure starts on July 13 when the first group leaves followed by another the following month.
Endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the annual Trek4Mandela Kilimanjaro Challenge is an initiative that aims to raise enough funds to ensure that South African schoolgirls don’t miss a day of school as a result of menstrual challenges.
“Personally, I believe that keeping a girl child in school is another way of empowering growth in our country and also a way of restoring the dignity of those who cannot afford a basic necessity like sanitary towels.
“I believe that there is something within all of us that we can share with others to minimise their challenges and help them unlock their true potential. I deem education to be the key to success and therefore all learners should have access to it, irrespective of gender and social standing,” said Khumalo.
He was chosen by his employer, the South African Mint Company (SA Mint), to participate in this year’s expedition. SA Mint is one of the oldest sponsors of the trek, which it has been participating in since 2015.
Khumalo, from Rustenburg in the North West, has been involved with helping Grade 12 learners in schools in Phokeng, North West, and at Olievenhoutbosch with tutorial programmes in maths and career guidance.
In preparation for the six-day Mount Kilimanjaro hike, the group has taken two hiking trips in the Drakensberg and been training every Sunday at the formidable Westcliff steps, near the zoo lake, Joburg.
Khumalo also goes to gym three times a week.
But Khumalo said he also adds his own sessions. “I walked about 10km in my neighbourhood.
“I then went on compulsory trainings offered by Imbumba Foundation, which included the Westcliff stairs and hiking trails at Suikerbosrand, Drakensberg and Hennops.
“We did two Drakensberg hiking trails, the first one was not as challenging but the second trail (Sterkhorn) was extremely challenging as it was steep. In between this, we would organise (going on) other trails such as the Rustig Nature Reserve’s hiking trails in Magaliesburg” said Khumalo.
He said these sessions have helped him to keep his mental fitness in sync with his body’s strength and to recover quickly from workouts.
“I have learnt that I am capable of achieving whatever I set my mind to, also that my body responds to what my mind informs it,” added.
The team had their last training session at the weekend prior to their departure.
The first one was a 15km hike in Hennops (Tshwane) on Saturday followed by 10 laps at the Westcliff stairs on Sunday.
SA Mint managing director Tumi Tsehlo said the company has sent five employees to the expedition and the participation has been made available to all their employees because it resonated with the values of the company.
SA Mint has distributed more than 300000 sanitary pads to over 1000 learners in two Gauteng schools.
“We believe in being part of finding and facilitating solutions to problems and challenges faced by these communities.
“In particular, our main interest is in education. We believe that we cannot leave everything to the government to provide solutions, but that we should challenge ourselves to make our own difference, in our own little way,” said Tsehlo.
Imbumba Foundation chief executive Richard Mabaso said he was grateful for SA Mint’s support.
“Their approach, through employees’ participation, ensures long-term, sustainable and mutually beneficial partnership - learners benefit through CSI while employees benefit through great sponsorship opportunities to take part in the expedition. The partnership is one that provides shared value for all parties,” added Mabaso.
The 2019 expedition aimed to raise enough funds to ensure that 1million girl children will not miss a day of school.
To support Khumalo in raising funds, SMS SELLOK to 42513 and donate R30. Those wishing to participate in next year’s Trek4Mandela expedition can call Nkateko Mabale on 0662142520 or email [email protected]