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With a Little Help from Our Friends

A father and son turned a personal goal into an opportunity to support children with cancer

The idea was conceived over a decade ago and this August, Peter Makhari, a past president of the Rotary Club of Bedfordiew (D9400), got to fulfil his dream. He conquered Kilimanjaro!

Previously when PP Peter had wanted to climb the mountain, he was let down by people who were not as committed to the adventure as he was. However, enough was enough and in August 2016, he decided he would conquer Kilimanjaro, even if he had to do it alone!

PP Peter discussed his goal with his family in February 2017 and without even thinking, his son, Lufuno, said he was going with him! “I think my eldest son, Tshifhiwa, would have joined us as well but they were expecting a baby during the period we planned to be away.”

Two weeks before PP Peter and Lufuno were due to depart for Tanzania, he told his fellow Rotarians of his impending adventure.

“Uhuru Peak is 5895 metres above sea level. Jeremy Webb, one of the senior Rotarians, stood up and pledged one cent for every metre that I climbed.” In true Rotary spirit, one Rotarian after another rose to the occasion and pledged even more per metre climbed.

“Because of the power of social media, friends of Rotary also heard about it and made pledges,” said PP Peter. The highest pledge was made by Jurgens Bekker of Jurgens Bekker Attorneys.

PP Peter and Lufuno left for Moshi, via Nairobi, on Friday 18 August. After breakfast the following morning, they left the bed and breakfast in Moshi drove for about two hours to Machame gate. They began their assent, via the Machame route, at 11.30 that morning.

“I made a commitment to the club that I’ll account for everyday of our climb until we reached Uhuru. The internet connectivity was intermittent and although some of my communication and photos did go through, it was at a snail’s pace.”

The pair joined a group of climbers who would summit the mountain together. It took five days to reach Barafu Camp (also referred to as base camp). “We arrived at about 5pm and started preparing our gear and getting ready for the summit. We had six and a half hours rest and at about 11.20pm, we assembled at the ‘dining hall’ for tea and biscuits.” About ten minutes later, the pair started shuffling through the very cold and windy night with their headlamps shining.

“For many of us if not all of us, the seven-hour climb to Stella point was mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. This is where the mind games began.

“I guess all the preparations and the training was for this last leg of the climb,” said PP Peter.

“At Stella Point (5739 metres) we stopped for a short rest. The weather was great and we were rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise we are ever likely to see.

“From Stella Point we encountered light snow throughout our two-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. We did not stay long on the summit, about 20 minutes, because it was freezing cold. We quickly took photos and started walking back to base camp.”

It took the team another three hours to reach the base camp where they collected their belongings and headed to a camp three hours away. “For this last leg we were on our feet for 15 hours,” recalled PP Peter.

After a well-deserved breakfast on the morning of 25 August the team started off for Mweka gate where they arrived six hours later. After signing out at the reception, “the guides took us to a restaurant nearby for a big celebration lunch and golden certificates were given to all of us,” said PP Peter.

After arriving back in South Africa, the pledges were collected and an amount of R13 160 was raised. Personal contributions from PP Peter and his family will bring the collection to a total to R15 000 that will be donated to CHOC (the Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa). He will hand over the donation at a presentation where he will talk about his Kilimanjaro experience.

NOTE:

  • First published in Rotary Africa, a member of the Rotary World Magazine Press, November 2017
  • The opinions expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff






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