Trekking Kilimanjaro for the future of girls

Marelize Beukes and Mamello Selamolela of Vodacom will climb Mount Kilimanjaro in August to raise funds for Trek4Mandela, an initiative to keep girls in school.

Two exceptional Bloemfontein women will be trekking their way up to the highest point in Africa as they conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. Telecommunications industry leaders Mamello Selamolela and Marelize Beukes will attempt this great feat for the future of little girls around the country on 9 August, as a part of Trek4Mandela, an initiative to keep a child in school.

Led by former Public Protector, Prof. Thuli Madonsela, the team is made up of a number of men and women who share a passion for the future of girls. This will be the second expedition this year after about 54 climbers made their way up the mountain on Madiba’s birthday last month. It is reported that girls who cannot access sanitary pads miss an estimated 52 days of school a year.

According to Selamolela, Managing Executive of Vodacom Central Region, the project is very close to her heart. “Yes, we will be climbing Kilimanjaro but caring for girls with a focus on providing sanitary hygiene is really about bring dignity back to girls. This allows them to continue with their lives and education in a way that is both dignified and empowering.

For me this is so significant because something like that should not stand in the way of someone’s entire future,” she said at Seisoen where almost R30 000 was raised for the cause. The event was also sponsored by Robertson Winery and Vodacom.

Beukes, Executive Head of Department of Sales and Marketing at Vodacom Central Region, is an avid athlete and expressed that they aim to raise R100 000 for the initiative during their climb. “There are a lot of opportunities for females, so we want to empower them and ensure that they are aware that they are just as good as boys. They are our future and we want them to set and achieve big dreams for themselves,” she said.

The team has had to go through training before the mountain trek. This included climbing sessions over the Drakensberg Mountains and intense training sessions since October 2018. Selamolela expressed that although she was unsure of the challenge at first, she knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime. “It is going to be a tough six days but these girls have their own mountains to climb every day,” explained Selamolela.

She looks forward to the climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with a team of remarkable people. “My husband has climbed Kilimanjaro twice and is the youngest African to have summited Everest. He has let me know that the mountain tests everyone in different ways. When we get there, we may find ourselves playing various roles in the team but the dynamic that we have built will carry us to the top,” said Selamolela.

“It is really a mental game with a physical aspect. The high altitude means we will have low oxygen levels, which will be big challenge but my biggest challenge will be to stomach salty banana soup on the night before we climb,” said Beukes jokingly.

To make your own contribution to the great initiative, SMS Marelize or Mamello to 42513 to pledge R30.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele