‘For the children!’
With less than 5 days to go final preparations for the Big Climb are well underway! My room resembles an obstacle course fashioned from sleeping bags, rucksacks and walking poles, and my every conversation ends with an inevitable ‘good luck with the climb’ or a comforting ‘come back in one piece!’ The reality and enormity of this challenge is definitely kicking in, and with it comes some trepidation but mostly excitement. In a few short days I will be at the base of the highest freestanding mountain in the world about to embark on the most challenging experience of my life yet. The magnitude of the 5,895m that stand between Uhuru Peak and myself will become apparent in that moment. I have no idea what I will be feeling but I can’t wait to find out!
Breaking in our boots, getting a handle on walking poles and working muscles we never knew we had!
Moshi, a small town at the base of the mountain, is where my mum was born and grew up, and the place we have most visited. The best bit about our visits, aside from all the presents from my grandparents, was the priceless view from their east-facing balcony. If you looked below you could observe all the hustle and bustle of the town, but as your gaze lifted, there in the distance stood the snow capped Kilimanjaro in a beautiful contrasting serenity. Thus, Mt. Kilimanjaro has always been a part of my life, featuring in many fond memories, and the aspiration to climb her has grown over the years. I have spent many warm evenings with my grandparents and family watching the sunset set her alight and thought ‘what would it feel like to be standing there?’ I will soon find out!
However, aside from my personal ambition, there is a greater motive for the climb, which will make this experience truly special, and will no doubt provide inspiration when things inevitably get tough. The purpose? Charity. More specifically, raising money and awareness for The CAREducation Trust.
CAREducation focuses on the education and vocational training of underprivileged and naturally challenged children in India and Africa, believing that education will allow them to take a step away from the vicious cycle of poverty by giving them skills that will open up opportunities for a better life. This is what makes it such a worthwhile charity – it focuses on the root of the problem and not just the symptoms. In addition, it is unique because it works on a zero administration cost policy meaning all funds raised are used at grass root level, having a direct effect on the children.
Last month I travelled around India on a mission to experience the ‘real India’. What I saw made the importance of such work extremely real. Over time I found myself hardening to many aspects of poverty, except one. The children. Begging children, working children, smiling children. Smiling at me as they washed basins from a trickling pipe and smiling when it was evident they hadn’t had a proper meal in a long time. Seeing the suffering of such innocent children and watching their naivety slowly seeping away was heartbreaking. Giving them some money may help them one day but it doesn’t change their tomorrow. Education does. This is CARE’s mission.
This cause has brought together 35 individuals, like-minded in their philanthropy, their drive to challenge themselves beyond everyday expectations, and their willingness to take time out of their busy lives to raise money for these unfortunate and deserving children. I feel privileged to be sharing this experience with them and to call them friends. Together we will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro so that we can bring happiness to at least some children by feeding their hunger to learn, in turn allowing them earn a living and feed themselves.
Collectively we have now raised £27,000 for this incredible charity with an aim to raise a final £40,000. If you’d like to support us and help us realise this goal, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MeeraBhavni. Remember every penny will go directly to the children.
‘For the children!’
The Machame Route – our route to ‘The Roof of Africa’!