Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Mount Kilimanjaro Challenge.

The challenge of a lifetime

Posted in Mount Kilimanjaro Challenge on January 21, 2016


According to the United Nations, approximately 46 million African children, nearly half the school-age population, have never set foot in a classroom.

In 2014, DWC committed to building a school in the slum community of George Brook, Sierra Leone. This school will provide critically needed education to more than 150 children. Watch the video below to see the project and community firsthand.

Due to the devastating Ebola epidemic, DWC has not been able to send any volunteer teams to West Africa. As an alternative, DWC committed to raising and sending money so that local workers could complete the school.  This is the old George Brook school and these are the children who will get a better education if they’re in a better building.


Thus the Mt. Kilimanjaro Challenge

The challenge raised more than $90,000 and climbers went to Tanzania to make their trek from Jan. 8 to 15.

Facing the thin mountaintop air and -20C temperatures, the team succeeded! All but one climber reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (health problems caught up to one team member at the highest camp). Congratulations to all 18 who took on the Mt. Kilimanjaro Challenge to raise money for schools for those children in Sierra Leone.

The team consisted of:

  • Joshua Molsberry, DWC executive director

  • Doug Wittal, owner of DW Builders and also the challenge Summit Sponsor and team leader

  • April Johnson, non‐practicing dentist

  • Paul Johnson, April’s husband and with Urban Appeal Landscaping

  • Christopher Seguin, vice‐president advancement, Thompson Rivers University

  • Jennifer McKinney, partner with Fresh Inc.

  • Roxanna Ferguson, Travelwise Travel and Cruise Centre TravelPlus

  • Jen Crawford, lawyer with Crawford Law Office

  • Neville Flanagan, Grayden Flanagan, Chet Flanagan, father, son and grandson. Neville is retired, Grayden owns and operates Subway stores in Kamloops

  • Steve Ivanitz, Metal Structure Concepts

  • Corey Ivanitz, WCS Western Canadian Steel

  • Julie Kimmel, director of development for the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation

  • Andy Root, president of Forteva Development

  • Gerald Watson, lawyer with Watson and Haines

  • Ronald Watson, retired lawyer and father of Gerald Watson

  • Raj Rana, an independent mortgage broker

Here’s what they had to say on their journey:

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team Blog Day 9, Jan. 14Sponsored by Kamloops Daybreak Rotary and Home HardwareJoshua Molsberry, executive director, Developing World Connections
From 16,340 ft (Kosovo camp/Base Camp) to 19,341 ft (Uhuru Peak), to 12,540 ft (millennium camp), culminating in someone being wheeled off the mountain in a “stretcher,” – essentially a steel frame with a unicycle wheel and two mono shocks – that was summit day!

Fortunately, our team member on the stretcher was not seriously injured. Just some knee issues.

It started at 11 p.m. at Kosovo camp. We were awakened by our support team and started gearing up for the final ascent of Kilimanjaro. At 16,340 ft, temperatures were well below zero, with a guarantee that it would get colder as we ascended. Every layer we brought with us was put on. In one of the articles that was sent out to the team, it was recommended to purchase a camelback that has an insulated hose so that it wouldn’t freeze in sub-zero temperatures. Somehow I missed this, which is mildly pathetic given that most of the packing lists were distributed by me, so I spent a good half hour duck-taping wool socks to the hose of my camelback.

April Johnson told me that at high elevations one is able to see the curvature of the earth. I didn’t notice, but she mentioned that she and Paul were able to see it. I can say though, that when I stepped out of the tent at 11 p.m., the stars were absolutely incredible. The sky is so much fuller with stars than anything I am used to.

After some tea and crackers, we set out at around midnight. We marched single file, following an incredibly steep series of short switchbacks that went on and on and on. For six hours we trudged up one of the steepest mountains that I have ever climbed. Doug guesses the pitch was probably around 70 degrees. Climbing in the dark was disorienting. 

We saw only the stars in the sky, the ground in front of our feet that our headlamps illuminated, and a long trail of lights leading up the mountain from the dozens of other climbers who were also ascending. It looked like a stairway leading up into the stars.

The guides encouraged us not to break for longer than three-minute intervals so that our bodies wouldn’t get tired and shut down. After six hours, we crested the mountainside and arrived at Stella Point just as the sky was glowing red with the early morning sun. 

From there we grabbed a quick cup of tea and continued on. The terrain evened out, becoming less steep. All of us were exhausted and walking in a daze. I am still amazed at Doug, who lead us every step with knees that were shot, and Neville, who at 75 years old was able to put one foot in front of the other the entire way, inspiring us all to do the same.

The view was absolutely stunning. The glaciers and crater created a scene that looked like a different world. Julie was adamant that the terrain on the mountain looked like Mars.

After an hour of trudging from Stella Point, we made it to the summit – Uhuru Peak, at 19,341 ft. Perhaps it was the fatigue, or the sense of accomplishment from conquering the mountain, but all of us were a little emotional. We spent about half an hour taking pictures and then turned around and started our descent. Our team trickled into base camp between 9 and 10 a.m. The summit took us nine hours to get up and down.

We spent some time resting, ate a bit of food and then started hiking down just after lunch. Doug’s knees were giving him a lot of trouble by this point. The team went ahead, and a couple porters and I helped him for a couple miles until we reached an interesting contraption that the guides call a “stretcher.” It is essentially a unicycle strapped to a bed frame. I tried to convince Doug that if we just pushed him, the speed would keep his ride balanced and he would get down in no time. Doug opted out of this option. 

We strapped him down, and for the next two hours he closed his eyes and hoped not to roll off a cliff. I tried to scramble ahead of the thing and kick the small boulders out of the way that were constantly sending him airborne, as about six of our guides tried to navigate him down the mountain on an incredibly rocky and uneven trail.

We finally made it down to the camp where the team was drying out clothes and trying to get warm with some tea. After a few hours, we were all still feeling a high from our incredible accomplishment. What a team we had. One out of our 18 didn’t make it, which was a shame, but definitely in his best interest. All told, our summit success rate was well above the roughly 70% average. It was truly a team effort. We encouraged each other, shared gear, gave advice, made fun of each other and laughed till it hurt. What an adventure!

And I stink like a wet dog in need of a bath! If it weren’t so cold I’m sure my tentmate, Andy Root, would be sleeping outside.

 Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 8, Jan. 13Sponsored by R and D ConstructionChristopher Seguin, vice-president Advancement, Thompson Rivers University
Day six was the final day prior to summit. We moved from Karanga at 14,200 to Kosovo camp at 16,000. Every step we took was the highest any of us had been outside of an airplane, every step brought us closer to the summit. We wandered through a barren rockscape, Mars-like in colour. So high not even moss adorned the rocks.

Morale is high, we are all still here, three of us are having trouble breathing having developed a hacking cough, and all of us are feeling the altitude. The Diamox is holding the nausea and migraines at bay, but all of us are struggling. Now the slow pace we have been programmed to follow is a necessity. The landscapes are surreal, huge in scope, with valleys and chasms kilometres wide, the mountain now looms beside us, a constant reminder of what is to come. Summit, summit, summit – the word is on all our lips and anticipation is tinged with a nervous fear.

Something magical happens on this journey, in the absence of jungle of flowers and other hikers. The group uses the hours to chat with their shallow breath. We learn about each other, we talk about kids, work, dreams and other travel. Eighteen people who knew each other as colleagues and peers become friends, between halting steps relationships are born. The struggle we face unites us and we find so much in common. Developing World Connections attracts people who invest their time and money to make the world a better place, and it is incredibly exciting to discover new friends who share your views and ambitions.

By the end of the day, the guides decide we will pass the initial camp site and proceed to Kosovo, looming hundreds of metres above, atop an imposing rock wall. The guides believe we are ready, we are conditioned enough to make the leap and in doing so save ourselves an additional climb at midnight. After struggling up that wall, we were all exhausted, wheezing, struggling to breathe. The mists rolled in and covered us in a cold chill. In that mist a song arose. It was haunting, and beautiful. The guides and porters were singing. As we came upon the camp they met us with a slow deep vocal rhythm. The words were lost on us, but as we arrived, we realized we were alone, the camp below hosted hundreds of campers, but we stood solitary on our mountain peak.

“We are here, please unpack, rest, eat and then get as much sleep as you can, at midnight we begin the final climb,” our guide says. “Because we made this camp our chances of summiting are very high, you all have done very well.” His words enforce a growing resolve in us. Summit, summit, summit.

I like to think it is more than the Diamox that protects us from the altitude, I like to think that we are made of tougher stuff. That each of us, driven, ambitious, filled with dreams of the impossible, is ready for what midnight will bring, that together facing this mountain united by purpose and friendship we will finally – summit.

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 7, Jan. 12Sponsored by Rotary Club of KamloopsGerald Watson, lawyer with Watson and Haines (also with his dad, Ron Watson)
Day five was not about extreme elevation or elevation change but taxing the team with a series of steep up and down sections as we progressed to the next camp (Karanga 13,100 ft. to Barranco).

We had been told that this would be the easiest day of the trip and the team was grateful for it. Yesterday was considerably colder and wetter than anyone on the team anticipated. Even the best prepared had been drenched and most had at least one part that was cold, if not their entire body.

My father (Ron) and I won the porter lottery. Our duffel bags and sleeping mats made it into our tents without any excess moisture. Several others had not been so lucky and got off the trail cold and wet to find their mats and bags drenched. Everything on them was drenched, everything they had reserved for the next day was drenched and there was no way to dry them in the ongoing rain.

We started the hike at 8:36. Most of the team was dressed/fed and ready to go by 8, but our camp was much more crowded than those we had stayed at previously. I think the right decision was made and most of the other teams were allowed to go ahead of us. The day started with a scramble up the Barranco Wall, which was almost a vertical face with a trail proceeding across it at a grade between 25 and 30%. The wall was wet and there were places where two to three guides were required to give team members a hand as there simple weren’t enough handholds in the rock to climb without help.

My GPS watch with which I had been tracking our progress to date had a bit of seizure and was giving inaccurate readings. It couldn’t read enough satellites because of the interference of the rock faces. I won’t know for sure until I get access to a computer and wifi to review what it recorded, but my best guess is that it took us 80 minutes to climb 2,300+ ft and move laterally 600 meters. Probably the most humbling part of the climb was the constant stream of porters passing us with considerably bigger packs (baskets balanced on their head with 40-kg plus or minus in duffel bags and wearing terrible shoes) and making the same climb in 20 to 25 minutes.

We had a clear view of the Kibo crater glaciers as well as the Mawenzi peak for the bulk of the day (17,000 ft).

Today was by far my favourite for terrain and vegetation. We looked up jagged cliffs that were clearly volcanic and walked over a mix of metamorphic and ignaceous rock and rich volcanic soil. It was clearly a wet environment, but the larger plants vaguely looked like modified desert plants. One resembled a furry coconut tree that branched from a single trunk into four larger trunks, each capped by what looked like the top of a palm tree set on a table. Another was a frilly bright-green version of sage brush.

As we approached Karanga Camp, at about hour five of the hike, we were pretty happy. As we got even closer, we became a bit dismayed as we realized there was a deep, narrow ravine we would have to cross. What look liked a 20-minute walk took us an hour and fifteen minutes as we descended and then climbed a final 425 feet.

Team spirit is high and all members are looking in good shape for tomorrow.

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 6, Jan. 11Sponsored by Cadillac HomesChet Flanagan (with Grayden and Neville Flanagan, his dad and grandfather)
It’s Chet Flanagan here with help from my grandfather, Neville Flanagan, to tell you about our day five. Our day started like the previous days en route to Kili’s infamous dark and cold peak.

After a restless night, I was awakened by the laughs and noises of the camp accompanied by the amazing view of Kili. Finally, its face poked out from the clouds, leaving us some time to snap pictures and enjoy our morning coffee with a view. This morning was cold and foreshadowed the upcoming days.

After breakfast, our guides and porters, who number 71 on this trip, treated us to a song and dance to send us on our way. The whole team was clapping along and enjoying the fun. I was thinking of getting our team to treat the guides to a North American style dance, such as the YMCA. The group thought it was a good idea – not really.

We had a short hike today, only three hours, to Shira Camp 2. I overpacked my bag as I was stripping layers quickly after we left. We took too many stops to “bless the land,” but otherwise our journey went at a faster pace than previous days. The terrain was littered with huge boulders that we had to bound over. Some found it tough on the hips, as the altitude change began to set in with myself and others.

As we entered our camp, it rained. So after three hours, we had seen every type of weather except snow (which we hopefully will leave for Canada). I swear the universe was good to me as I found a proper bathroom to use and not a porta potty. Before I could savour this find, the whole group was lining up to use it. Unfortunately, we are too tight of a group to hold secrets from one another. It is quite funny after many nights of freezing that we are getting excited over the little things.

Once we arrived, we climbed to a higher elevation to help with tomorrow’s long 14-km trek. The group saw bright orange lichen on some rocks along the short jaunt that reminded everyone of Jurassic Park and much older times such as the ‘80s. With the height of the little climb we passed the halfway mark and it sunk in my heart to think the worst is yet to come. At the camp, we are surrounded by groups from all over the world which reminds me there is still hope as it has occurred to me that our group is in much better shape than others. We have been lucky to be moving at a good SLOW pace and have great guides.


At the start and at the end of the day our oxygen levels and heart rates are checked. My readings have been pretty good, then I see what my grandfather gets and I am put to shame. We had a nice warm dinner to battle the cold air and wind, and had another early night as we start our walks at 8 a.m. As night approaches, I realize I miss many things such as my family and friends. But I think what I miss most is my own bed and not having to listen to my father snore all night. It’s been a fabulous experience, a true once-in-a-lifetime trip, as I am in the company of so many great people and my family. I can’t wait to see what the next days have to offer and take in the view at the peak of Kili.

Lala Salama (goodnight in Swahili)
From Chet, Grayden, and Neville Flanagan

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 5, Jan. 10Sponsored by Rivershore RamJenifer Crawford, lawyer with Crawford Law Office
I have to admit – day 4 almost did me in. I considered a lot of challenges that I would face on this hike, but getting sick was not one of them.

The day started like all the others. Doug yelled out “Good Morning Vietnam” about 30 minutes before our scheduled wake up time of 6:30. That led to the usual round of jokes and jabs. As we got moving, our excellent porters organized coffee and washing stations and usual sounds of camp began. There were heavy grey clouds that lifted for a short time to give us a peak at Kilimanjaro. She looked ominous and cold!

We knew we had a big day ahead of us: hiking to the Lava Tower and then back down to Baranco camp at 13,250 feet. We were told to expect to be on the trail for about 8 to 9 hours. We were all careful to ensure we had gear and snacks in our day packs. We were told to expect challenging weather. Box lunches were handed out because usually it was too windy at the Lava Tower to set up a lunch tent.

I was feeling horrible and wishing I could call in sick to work rather than being on the biggest climb of my life. I tried to lessen my load by asking Steve to carry my lunch, and Corey and Gerald to each take a water bottle. I also loaded up on cold medication and hoped that Kili was kind to us in the weather department.

Camp was 12,875 feet. Yesterday, we had hiked to 4,000 meters (about 13,200 feet) as an “afternoon stroll,” so we knew what to expect. We started about 8:30 a.m., with our guide Lazaro in the lead. “Pole pole” (slowly slowly) was said repeatedly. We had a long way to go!

Unusual for us, the group started out quiet. But about a half hour in the jokes and laughter began. The rocky landscape with long strands of orange moss made me think of Fraggle Rock. Others felt it was like moonscape or perhaps Boulder Mountain from Lord of the Rings. Gradually, rolling moss appeared, making me think of images I have seen of Scotland.

Lazaro sang for us. A song we are all trying to learn, so I walked along beside him and took down the words (four more days to learn them): “Jambo…Jambo bwana…Habari gani…Nzuri Sana…Wageni…Mwa karibishwa…Kilimanjaro…Hakuna Matata…Tembea pole pole…Hakuna Matata…Utafika uhuru…Hakuna Matata.” It is really beautiful and lively when sung by our Swahili crew of guides, porters, waiters, kitchen staff (not sure if anyone has mentioned that we have some 65 people supporting our team in this climb).

Pole pole, we walked up the mountain. Just after 10 a.m., we reached 14,000 feet. That was exciting. Most of our group had never been that high. Pole pole. Sometimes trail; sometimes stepping over large rocks and boulders. I would frequently veer off to the side to take pictures. Stay in line I was told. It is too much energy to catch up.

Shortly after, at 14,260 feet, we came across a memorial to Ian McKeever (1970 to 2013), whose stone read "Who inspired so many to reach their own goals and achieve their own summits; Attitude before Altitude." It was a sobering reminder that not everyone finishes this hike.

Pole pole, we went on. Across open plains and narrow chasms; past massive walls of cooled lava flows shaped like the hoodoos from home.

At 11:30 it started to mist. We stopped and put on rain gear. I made a huge error in judgment and only put on my rain jacket. The mist was so light and it was warm. But the mist turned to rain and it got colder and colder. Soon my pants were wet and my body chilled. I stopped and put on more layers and my rain pants but I never got warm again that day. Truly!

By noon the conversation had most stopped. We were going higher and higher. I could feel a mild headache and wondered if it was my cold or the altitude. When we stopped for breaks, team members mentioned headaches and sore shoulders. Our guides reassured us and took on packs and water bottles if necessary to lighten our loads.

We continued climbing. Pole pole. I was so tired; I just wanted to sleep. Our lead guide Thomas reassured me that was normal with altitude.

I began to feel that I could not do this. Climbing Kilimanjaro was a mistake. So I dug deep and found just a little more in me than there was a moment before, and continued on. Pole pole. And then, we were there. The lava towers loomed above me; we were at 15,259 feet. It was five hours since we left camp. And here we were. Our summit for the day. Cold wet and hungry.

One of the guides brought me hot, sweet tea. It was soooo good! I found a spot under a low overhang and opened my lunch box. Despite my hunger it was hard to eat. I reminded myself we were only halfway to camp and settled to it.

As lunch wrapped up, we were cheered by the thought that we would start heading down. Until we saw the trail. Only one word describes it: waterfall. We were going to hike down a waterfall. In the rain! And we did. And then we crossed a river and then we climbed another hill. And then we started a long, long descent. I admit it, I was a little miserable. But not so miserable that I could not appreciate the beauty of this wonderful mountain. A bunch of yellow flowers here; an expansive vista there; a flowering cactus; a waterfall. Occasionally the clouds would lift enough to give us a peek at another face of Kilimanjaro.

As we descended, we went by another cairn. This one we were told was a German man who was hit by lightning. A reminder to not take Kilimanjaro casually.

As we descended, it got warmer. Eventually the rain slowed and stopped. But I was tired and kept my mind busy counting heart-shaped rocks on the trail. I left them all behind in case another weary traveller need the same inspiration to keep heart on the trail.

At last the call: 10 minutes to camp. I was looking forward to a quick stretch and a nap before dinner. We arrived at about 4:30 and checked in. But no nap for me. My bed mat was wet; my bag was wet; my sleeping bag was wet. I had a little cry. But again, our support crew stepped up and ensured that I slept in a dry bed that night!

At dinner as we talked about our day, I learned that everyone had found it as tough as I had – in their own way. Without doubt it was the toughest day of hiking anyone of us has had. Most felt some level of altitude sickness, mainly with headaches and tiredness. But we were all smiling and congratulating each other on a job well done.

As I finally crawled in to bed, my last thought was today kicked my butt. But I did it. And if I can do that, then I can do this mountain. So a hard day has given me heart to make it to the top!

image1 (2)

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 4, Jan. 9 – Second day of the climbSponsored by Southgate Electric Ltd.April and Paul Johnson (April is a non‐practicing dentist and Paul is with Urban Appeal Landscaping)
Well, we all made it through night number one on Kili, despite some noises in the night from some unidentified African creatures and from some Canadian creatures (those creatures were identified!).

Our day started with our choice of hot coffee or tea served in our tent, followed by a delicious breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, eggs, sausage and toast. By 8 a.m., we started our 14-km trek. Trekking began with a fair bit of incline out of Big Tree Camp and before long we were out of the rainforest and into the moorland, a land of huge heather, volcanic rock draped in lichen and more expansive views.

We maintained our “pole pole” pace and I was continually amazed to see the porters fly past us with 20 kgs of gear perched on top of their heads. I did see the odd bead of sweat, but they certainly made it look like a walk in the park. Although we had a few flat stretches and some downhill, the overall trend was up, up and more up, with a lot of scrambling up and over boulders.

We were treated to a hot lunch somewhere between 9,500 and 10,000 ft and it looked like we were going to get really wet as we left our lunch site, but Kili smiled on us and before long we were all stripping off our raingear. We continued up some more to arrive at Shira 1 Camp at 12,200ft, approximately six and a half hours after leaving Big Tree Camp. Despite the elevation, everyone seems to be feeling good and despite the long day, everyone is in great spirits.

Shira 1 Camp is situated on the edge of the Shira plateau and simply because of its location is exposed to the elements, so we’ve been told to expect a colder night and morning. Right now, however, the sun is out and we even caught a glimpse of the glaciers surrounding the summit on Kili between the clouds.

Corey jokingly said we should just head for the summit tomorrow because “it’s right there” and it sure seems like it is and I think that’s one of the challenges of this mountain. It deceives you into thinking that you’re almost there when really we’re just getting started.

Kilimanjaro has some challenges in store for us yet but we’ll tell Christopher that “we’re almost there” because he really likes that kind of encouragement. The highlights of today would have to be the camaraderie and levity among team members. The jokes back and forth and the funny comments at every turn up the mountain had me laughing all the way to Shira. I don’t think our head guide Tom has encountered a group like us before and I catch him chuckling and laughing along with us. I see bonds and friendships developing and our always humorous and always inspiring leader, Doug Wittal, knows how to foster this spirit. That is what will get us all to the summit.

Quote of the day would have to be Joshua’s comment to Doug: “You’re doing great buddy…but that means you’ve cost me more on Day 2!”

I can’t say there have been any lowlights today that I’m aware of. The food has been great, the views magnificent, the weather has been in our favour and everyone is feeling good. Literally as I’m writing this the clouds surrounding the Kili summit have cleared and we have all now had a glimpse of the roof of Africa. What more could we ask for?

Kili panorama, first efw days
Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 3, Jan. 8 – Hitting the trailSponsored by Pacific HomesRoxanna Ferguson with Travelwise Travel and Cruise Centre TravelPlus
Day one of the climb!

Frantic packing, unpacking, repacking, breakfast, more packing, weighing packs. And we’re off! More “Maasi massage!” A two-plus-hour drive through villages, pine forests and potato farms and we arrive at the Kilimanjaro park entrance. There are 18 of us. Get this: to accomplish the feat of climbing to over 19,000 feet, we have a team of 71 (yes, 71!) guides, porters and cooks accompanying us on this climb.

Unbelievable. Each porter can carry no more than 20 kg of goods. So our packs, tents, chairs, water, portable toilets, food and equipment are all carried by these young men, 20 kilos at a time. After everything is strictly weighed by the authorities, we are on our way to the Lemosho gate to start our six-km trek. We walked through a beautiful rain forest with beautiful greenery, a bit of mud and lot of stinging plant life.

The trail is well groomed. It reminds me of the Grouse Grind a little. So lush. We arrive at our first base camp, the Big Tree Camp. Tents everywhere (we are not alone). The porters quickly set up camp, have warm water to “washy washy” our filthy bodies and prepare tea, cookies and popcorn. A blue monkey joined for snacks (a huge highlight for many). And day one is done.

Kili Maasai

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 2, Jan. 7 – The team convenes and acclimatizesSponsored by Mortgage WestRoxanna Ferguson with Travelwise Travel and Cruise Centre TravelPlus
Happy Ukrainian Christmas! This morning we woke up to a picture-perfect blue sky day. Our Serena Resort is beautiful, the grounds are spectacular, and we’re ready for our first adventure.

After breakfast, we drove into Arusha town. After a stop at the market and a tourist shopping centre, we arrived at Cradle of Love Orphanage. We received a warm welcome from Ken, the director of the orphanage. Cradle of Love caters solely to infants under three years old.

Currently there are 27 children living there. Most of the children’s mothers died during child birth. Some of the children are HIV positive, others simply abandoned. COL is funded only by donations, mostly from North America and Australia. We had time to hold the infants, and play with toddlers before they went for lunch. The orphanage graciously accepted our 750 lbs of dried fruit and soup. It was great to feel like we contributed even just a little bit to such a loving organization.

We got our “Maasi massage” (that’s the best way to describe the washboard roads) on the way back to Serena for a quick debrief. We learned our word of the day, which is also going to be our mantra on the climb: “pole pole” (slowly ~ slowly). Every guide says if we want to make it to the top, drink three litres of water a day minimum and go very slowly. We had a quick equipment inspection before DWC put on a wonderful garden party for our group. Josh thanked us for being part of such an amazing, record-topping fundraiser, Doug Wittal (DW Builders) tried to bring tears to our eyes with his pep talk and drummers and dancers entertained us. A great way to end the day.

Kilimanjaro Challenge Team BlogDay 1, Jan. 6 – Arriving in TanzaniaSponsored by BDOJoshua Molsberry, Developing World Connections executive director
My childhood best friend spent the first 10 years of his life in Kenya. We were pretty much joined at the hip as kids, so I relived with him all the stories his parents told us about living in Africa. In fact, I felt so connected with Africa that by the time I moved there in my early twenties, a part of me felt like I was moving back home. Perhaps it was that early exposure, or the time I have spent living and working on the African continent since then, but there are few places on earth I have found that get into my skin like this one – the people, the food, the smells, the dirt.

Enough rambling. On to the Kili challenge. What the heck am I doing bringing 18 people to Tanzania to hike the tallest free-standing mountain in the world? What if half the team dies? What if they don’t summit? What if they don’t get along and the team deteriorates into factions like an episode of Survivor? This was a crazy idea!

I think if anything goes wrong, I’ll just blame it on Doug Wittal, our official team leader and presenting sponsor. “You don’t like the food? Sorry, Doug chose the menu. You’re too tired to continue the climb? Ah sorry, Doug should have better prepared you for the physical challenge.”

Yeah, that’s what I’ll do – blame Doug. He’ll probably just tell me to “relax and stop being so paranoid,” like he always does. He’s so annoying!


Facebook Ad #14
Doug Wittal on a previous DWC trip to Africa.
When we came up with this idea well over a year ago, I had no idea if it would work. I didn’t know if people would be willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money to climb this mountain and make a charitable contribution to our cause, or if businesses would want to get behind the event as corporate sponsors. As each milestone approached that required us to devote more staff time or spend more money on organizing the climb, I dithered.

Boy, was I wrong. From a fundraising perspective, this has been an incredible success. We have raised more than $90,000, recruited some high-profile community leaders to the team and given DWC and its work great exposure. We couldn’t be happier with all of that. A big thanks to all of our team members and sponsors.

The rest of the team doesn’t arrive until later tonight, so I have some time to get organized. Tomorrow morning we head to a market, then to an orphanage to deliver some donated food and spend time with the kids. It’s going to be an awesome day.

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