An­other crazy ad­ven­ture

GHS pupil climbs Kil­i­man­jaro to raise funds

Weekend Witness - - News - VUYELWA MTOLO

A PI­ETER­MAR­ITZBURG Girls’ High School Grade 12 pupil raised R55 000 for the chil­dren of LIV Vil­lage when she sum­mited Mount Kil­i­man­jaro with her fa­ther and a friend last week.

Joelle Botha (17) said she was driven by the idea of over­com­ing a huge ob­sta­cle to en­able other chil­dren to over­come their ev­ery­day ob­sta­cles.

“My dad [Craig Botha] made a joke about two years ago after our 256-kilo­me­tre trek through the Ka­roo (where we raised funds for dis­ad­van­taged girls at my school).

“He asked what kind of crazy ad­ven­ture I’d want to do next and I said, ‘maybe we could climb Kil­i­man­jaro’.”

He was jok­ing but that def­i­nitely sparked the idea for this fundrais­ing ef­fort,” she said.

Joelle said small ges­tures are not enough to gain sup­port for causes in to­day’s world; she feels that peo­ple want ex­cit­ing and crazy ideas to back and sup­port, and Kil­i­man­jaro fit­ted those re­quire­ments.

She said her ex­pe­ri­ence was “in­de­scrib­able”, adding she would def­i­nitely do it again but ex­plore dif­fer­ent parts of the moun­tain.

“The moun­tain of­fers so many dif­fer­ent ecosys­tems, from rain­for­est to moor­lands to bare tun­dra,” she said.

“It was very men­tally chal­leng­ing near the end. I was telling my­self just to keep go­ing with one foot in front of the other, but that made sum­mit­ing even more re­ward­ing.”

Joelle said the high­light of the climb for her was get­ting to the top after al­most eight hours of walk­ing in the dark, and her low point was fall­ing asleep dur­ing sum­mit night and fall­ing while walk­ing. “Ex­haus­tion and nau­sea were huge fac­tors that I strug­gled with in the very last cou­ple of hours,” she said.

Speak­ing about sum­mit­ing with her dad, Joelle said it was an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence and she feels so much grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for him be­cause of how hard he worked to get her onto Mount Kil­i­man­jaro and how much he went out of his way to get spon­sors for do­na­tions to LIV Vil­lage.

“We had a very emo­tional cou­ple of min­utes at the sum­mit where it felt so sur­real that our dream to make a dif­fer­ence had ac­tu­ally be­come a re­al­ity,” she said.

She also said she felt in­cred­i­bly scared while mak­ing her way to the top as she feared she might get ill and not be able to con­tinue.

“I knew the only way I would turn around with­out reach­ing the point was if I was too sick to con­tinue. I kept the chil­dren of LIV in my mind and kept push­ing.

“When I reached the top, I was a bit in de­nial. I’d en­joyed every day so much that I was hop­ing there was more to come.

“It was also in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing know­ing that I could go back to LIV hav­ing done what I’d promised,” she said.

Joelle said get­ting to the bot­tom was a sad mo­ment, know­ing that the ad­ven­ture was of­fi­cially over and that it seemed to have gone by so quickly.

“I was sad to be leav­ing my team,” she said.

Joelle’s friend Maria Diedrick had to stop the climb on day five due to tem­po­rary blind­ness brought on by oxy­gen de­pri­va­tion. • Mount Kil­i­man­jaro is the high­est moun­tain in Africa, it rises about 4 900 me­tres from its base, and is 5 895 me­tres above sea level. Joelle Botha be­fore sum­mit­ing Mount Kil­i­man­jaro. Joelle Botha (in the blue jacket) at the sum­mit. PHO­TOS: SUP­PLIED

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