They did it! A team of incredible, brave, and passionate supporters, including our patrons, our Fundraiser Janne, and two of our graduates Ayiesa and Derek, took on the biggest challenge of their lives in August 2023 and they did so to help us raise awareness and funds for our work.
We are over the moon to announce that together they raised more than £30,000! This will pay for one hundred disadvantaged children in Kenya, Uganda, and Lesotho to go to secondary school for a year which is simply incredible! We are so grateful to the ‘Kili-team’ and to everyone who supported them!
The original idea came from our chair of committee in Kenya Bishop Liverson, who decided this was a challenge he wanted to take on for Rafiki Thabo Foundation. Unfortunately, Covid came along, and his plans were halted. The idea was firmly planted however and roll forward a couple of years the idea became a reality with the support of Extreme Explorer Bob Bhania.
We wanted the Kilimanjaro trek to put the spotlight on how anyone, including those living with disability, can overcome the most extreme challenges with a bit of support – just like our scholars for whom poverty would – without our help – have prevented them from getting an education and hope for a better future.
Who better to help us achieve this than our inspirational patrons TV presenter, motivational speaker and world traveller Amar Latif OBE and England Cerebral Palsy Footballer Harry Baker! Both jumped at the challenge, and with Bob, Harry, and Amar on-board we started to recruit the team.
We were delighted to invite two Rafiki Thabo graduates whose lives were transformed through education. Ayiesa from Kenya and Derek from Uganda represented all our scholars and graduates, their hopes, dreams, and potential. Our fundraiser Janne also joined to represent our small UK HQ team and set about planning the trek with Bob.
In order for the trek to have the desired awareness raising capacity, we were going to need to raise media interest and for this we needed stunning photos and video footage throughout the trek. As with everything we do, we needed to rely on goodwill, generosity, and pro-bono support. Enter the fabulous Theo Blossom! Joining Theo to take charge of the media coverage was free-lance producer James Emtage, also giving up his time for free in support of our work!
We were set to make this the biggest awareness raising opportunity to date for Rafiki Thabo Foundation. It didn’t stop there however, joining our team were also Everest Legend, Kami Rita Sherpa, world record holder of 28 Everest summits, who would lead the trek with Bob and much loved CBeebies and CBBC presenter and educational YouTuber Maddie Moate! With Maddie, Kami, Harry, and Amar onboard a myriad of fans and social media followers would now learn about our work and our impact!
The team would not have been as magical however without our amazing supporters who took on the challenge with us and who together with the rest of the team raised such a whopping amount in aid of Rafiki Thabo Foundation.
We are eternally grateful to all of them. For taking part, for giving up their time, for being such amazing trek mates and for introducing our work to their friends, families, and colleagues through their social media and their Just Giving pages!
This amazing team of fifteen trekkers set out on their challenge of a lifetime, all with individual goals and dreams but united in their passion for enabling education and supporting disadvantaged children towards a better future!
As anyone who followed our adventure in social media @RafikiThabo could tell, the group became very close, had so much fun and endured emotional and physical challenges as they embarked on the Marangu route towards the summit.
Over 4 days, they made their way through rain forest, moorland, and alpine desert, before starting summit night on the 22nd of August – climbing through the pitch-black night, in freezing winds. Slowly making their ascent up the scree mountainside. For 6 hours the team walked in near silence, following the footsteps of the person in front of them, focussing on their breathing to maximise the limited oxygen available.
Then came the most stunning sunrise any of them had ever seen, and it filled them with a new lease of energy and optimism. Clambering up steep boulders and reaching Gilman’s Point they knew the steepest part was over, but with only half the amount of oxygen they were used to the remaining ridge walk to Uhuru Peak was still a challenge, although one which offered the most incredible views!
At last, after 10 hours of climbing, exhausted but exhilarated, they joined together for a moment full of emotions, tears and smiles all round, on the roof of Africa! Their thoughts went out to two of their teammates who had sadly been hit with altitude sickness and had been taken to a clinic for treatment, leaving thirteen of them to reach Uhuru Summit at 5895m around 10am on the 23rd of August 2023.
We are in complete awe of all of them. Each member of the team pushed themselves to their limit, faced personal challenges and overcame emotional and physical exhaustion. All contributing their success to the support, consideration and love that developed between them. Amar and Harry once again demonstrated their incredible perseverance and complete refusal to let their disabilities prevent them from reaching their goals and dreams. We are so incredibly honoured and privileged to have their support. The integrity of their patronage and their affinity with our scholars and graduates means the world to us all!
Much as we are absolutely thrilled by the amount raised, we also intended for the trek to raise awareness of our work. We are so excited to have got so much coverage over social media, radio, printed press, as well as several TV appearances including Amar Latif being interviewed live from the mountain on ITV’s Lorraine show, Harry Baker having a series of interviews on ITV Meridian News, and Maddie Moate being interviewed by Sky Kids TV! Hundreds of thousands of people have been introduced to Rafiki Thabo Foundation and the importance of education for all children, regardless of ability or background. Priceless!
Watch Amar live on Lorraine on ITV
Here’s Harry live on ITV Meridian News
Maddie’s interview with Fun Kids Live before she set off to Tanzania
…And there is more exciting content to come, with more appearances and interviews in the pipeline and not just one but two short films coming up about the trek and the stories of Derek and Ayiesa – watch this space!
For now, we invite you to join Ayiesa and Derek as they took the opportunity a few days after the team returned from the summit, to reminisce about what taking part in the expedition had meant to them.
Thank you so much to our amazing guides and porters from Kilimanjaro Brothers for looking after us, keeping us motivated and helping us make this adventure such a success! Thank you also to Kilimedair for ensuring all our trekkers stayed safe and healthy and for looking after our team members who had to be rescued to the medical clinic when altitude sickness unfortunately affected them.
If you want to support our fabulous trekkers in their fundraising efforts, you can still do so! Just head to our Kilimanjaro campaign page on Just Giving.
Inspired to ‘climb your own mountain’ in aid of Rafiki Thabo Foundation?
We would love for you to support our work through your own sponsored challenges. Do get in touch with us and we can help provide photos and stories to demonstrate to your friends, family, and colleagues just how important your sponsored challenge is. You can help us enable disadvantaged children in Kenya, Uganda, and Lesotho to transform their lives through education. Many of whom are living with disabilities, like our patrons Amar Latif and Harry Baker, and many of whom are orphaned. Did you know that a £350 sponsorship can pay for an entire year at secondary school and £80 can pay for nutritious school meals for a full year for a child who would otherwise go hungry. With an education these children can fulfil their potential, secure good employment and in turn support their families and contribute to economic growth in their local communities.