Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kilimanjaro Challenge Day 2

We began our day at 9:00 a.m. and finished at 5:00 p.m. We walked up to the second hut, Horombo, which is at about 12,000 feet (approx. 3,600 m). It is cold at this altitude. This hut is also the stop for those desecnding from the peak as well as for those who are ill. We have met several people, who are either on their way down or are ill.

Tomorrow is a relatively easy day. We will climb a few thousand feet and then return to Horombo. This is an attempt to get acclimatized to the altitude. We will spend another night at Horombo before ascending to Kibo on the following day, where we will spend the night. Kibo is at about 15,000 feet (approx. 4,600 m).

We have learned some Swahili words:
mambo (what's up?)
poa (cool!)
pole pole (slow)

While walking, the guides will chant 'mambo' and the group will answer 'poa'! It's not all work and no play!!

The guides have advised us to go 'pole pole' and have said that the "medicine of the mountain is water." In other words, stay hydrated and take it easy!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Kilimanjaro Challenge Day 1


We made it to the first hut, Mandara, which is at 9,000 feet (2,720 m). The terrain to this hut is a beautiful rain forest. We will have dinner and go to sleep. We will head out tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. local time.

Friday, December 28, 2007

TunaHAKI Centre for Child Development

We visited TunaHAKI Centre for Child Development on Friday, December 28. TunaHAKI is a local, arts-based organization that aims to rehabilitate and educate disadvantaged children living on the streets near Mt. Kilimanjaro in the Moshi district of Tanzania. Many of the children are orphans, while others have been neglected by their families who are unable to care for them due to extreme poverty and/or disease.

The TunaHAKI Centre upholds the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Children. The name speaks for itself. In Kiswahili, Tuna Haki means “We have the right.”

The centre currently houses 30 children - 16 boys and 14 girls ranging in age from 6 years to 16 years. We arranged for each child to receive a back pack with some basic school supplies. In addition to this, we brought along some gently used items that we donated to the centre during our visit.

We presented our gifts to the children, who were grateful and happy. They joyfully sang and danced for us. We then bought ice-cold Coke and Sprite for everyone and had a drink with them. Several children who were not residents of the orphange looked on enviously so we gave them a few gifts and bought drinks for them as well; they were elated.

We had our orientation today. In the evening, the clouds cleared and we could see the peak of the majestic Kilimanjaro. We all looked at one another and had the same thought: we have to climb that? Yikes!

Further details about TunaHAKI can be found at http://www.tunahaki.org/.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way." Dr. Seuss

After seven months of planning, preparing and fundraising ... the day has finally arrived. Kili, here I come!

Today I depart for Tanzania via Minneapolis and Amsterdam. I expect to land at the Kilimanjaro International Airport on the evening of December 27. After 32 years, I will set foot again in my birth country of Tanzania.

My family, friends, colleagues and clients generously donated $15,000 to Save the Children Canada for their HIV/AIDS program in Kenya through the AXIS Pharmacy Kilimanjaro Challenge 2007.

I have been overwhelmed by the support, encouragement and prayers of my fellow Calgarians. I will be thinking of each and every one of them as I embark on this adventure.

God willing, I hope to provide the next update from Moshi.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Canada Bridges

A few days ago I had the opportunity meet Donna Kennedy-Glans. She is a Lutheran from Calgary. She has started her own charitable organization called Canada Bridges(http://www.canadabridges.com/).

The following is an excerpt of what they do:

As a volunteer based organization we foster human engagement between the east and the west, countering the polarizing outcomes of September 11th. Our volunteer professionals from the west - doctors, nurses and midwives, lawyers and judges, journalists, teachers and politicians -exchange knowledge and wisdom with local counterparts. While our multi-disciplinary programs and training clearly incorporate clinical/technical best practices, Bridges' uniqueness is our combination of management training and operational best practices todemonstrate the "how" and not just the "what" in building capacity. Our teamwork training and "inspiring women" programs have been particularly well received by host communities.

Their primary focus currently is Yemen.

She has been able to get $ and manpower, from mostly Christians in Calgary, and takes these volunteers to train women in Yemen. She also spent some time recently in Tanzania and she shared the work of Aga Khan Foundation (AKF). She had very nice things to say about AKF and its work in Tanzania.

Very inspiring to see Christians from Calgary assisting Muslim sisters in Yemen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Palestinian Israeli Mediation and Peace Students Association (PIMPSA) - University of Calgary

A fews days ago I was asked to facilitate a meeting of Jewish, Christian and Muslim students from University of Calgary. These students belong to a newly formed club called 'The Palestinian Israeli Mediation and Peace Students Association' (PIMPSA).

Their objective is to review what has historically transpired in that region as well as provide a platform for Arabs and Israeli students to discuss current (e.g. Annapolis Conference, etc.) and future events/initiatives. They hope that this will be a model that will spread to other academic institutions with the ultimate goal of being a role model to students in Israel and Palestine.

It was very interesting to see the open dialogue between these students.

I am amazed at these type of initiatives in Calgary.

Hopefully such young people will lead us all to a peaceful world.

Further information can be obtained from pimpsa@ucalgary.ca

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

International Volunteer Day - December 5


Just received a virtual postcard from Myrna Knoll, Volunteer Resources Manager at Habitat for Humanity Calgary.

December 5 is International Volunteer Day.

The postcard, from the Habitat Calgary Families & Staff, is in appreciation for the time I spent at their project in NW Calgary during my sabatical in May 2007.