SiGMA team helps raise €110,000 for charities in Africa

Kilimanjaro project raises €110,000 for fantastic causes in Africa

In December 2018, three amazing SiGMA team members took on the biggest challenge of their lives - to climb Kilimanjaro mountain in Kenya!

The projects financed by the challenge include the construction of a school and a convent in the Ethiopian village of Bulbula, a

SiGMA Kilimanjaro team

wing for a 3-in-1 projects, a house hosting 100 physically disabled, deaf and blind children in Kenya, a clinic in Sakko, a Kindergarten school in Gambella, Dembidolo area, Jemu area and WushWush, Ethiopia.

All for a great cause, the team trained for months to prepare for the arduous climb, and helped to raise over €110,000 for these projects.

We caught up with Laima, Sophie and Denis to find out more about this charitable undertaking:

When did you decide to take on this adventure and why? Who was on the team?
We decided to join at the beginning of April, just after the previous Kili 11 team came to our office with a review and photos from their trip.

Can you tell us your reasons for doing this challenge?
At the very beginning, the reason was just to see more of the world. Especially since we were training in Malta for 10 months - it was a great chance to see more of this beautiful island! But after 3 months it became clear that it’s just a fantastic project to take part in! Every sunday training, every 5 am "wake up" we wanted to prove that we could do it. Just like Nike. Just do it!

Thank you Malta!

What was the charity you raised money for?
We didn't choose this particular charity project. It's the opposite. This charity project chose us ;) There are millions of people in the World who need help, it's hard to choose something if you don’t know where to start. Over the past 11 years, more than €720,000 has been collected for ten projects in Kenya and Ethiopia. Learning more about the charity and the amazing results from past Kili teams’ challenges sealed the deal - we had to do it!

How long did you train for?
We trained for ten months, and it was hard work, but well worth it. We started doing 4-5 hours hiking sessions on Sundays and after 4 months we were already doing 6 hour Sunday treks, hill training on Mondays, and Thursday power walks (around 3.5 hours covering a distance of 22 km).

How many days did it take to climb to the top?
It took us 6 days of trekking to get to the summit and 2 full days to get down. When I reached the summit, I felt like a mashed potato! On the last day going up, it took me almost 9 hours to get to the TOP of Africa. The world's largest free-standing mountain - I can describe this feeling in 3 words: tears, pride, strength.

How did you deal with the altitude?
Well, I didn't feel much altitude sickness. Usually, it was a headache in the evenings and only after the 3rd day of climbing (at around 3000m height), rapid pulse, and some other minor symptoms. It was much harder to compete with constant fatigue from the climb, rather than altitude sickness.

What were the camps like on the trek? Was it difficult living in tents for so long?
My height is 192 cm, so whether I’m on a bus, on a plane or sleeping in a tent, it's always somewhat uncomfortable... The adventurous spirit is a great feeling, but after you sleep on the ground for more than 4 days, you start losing this spirit. It was different from day-to-day life, but when you're surrounded with people who are also struggling and, just like you, are striving to reach the TOP, you forget about all that and just keep going.

What were the people with you like? Did you meet others on the mountain?
On the 5th day, on our path, we met a couple from the USA. She was 72 & He was 75 years old. They were so motivated and were holding each other hands. It was so romantic and so adorable. Our team was a group of 20 people, all different characters, life positions, physical and mental views. I'm Ukrainian for example, Laima is from Latvia, Sophie is from France, Ana from Brazil and we had a guy from Switzerland too. The rest group were all Maltese. All different but united with one goal, one challenge, one spirit. And this is an amazing feeling!

What was the food like on the trek? How did you cook?
We had a cook kept us in good climbing form with good food. To climb, you need to eat. You're losing appetite pretty fast, but you need to keep in mind all the time that if you're not eating - the chances of reaching the top are running to zero very fast. The food was good, but after eating soups at least twice a day on the trek, that’s one thing I'm not going to be eating for a while! I had protein bars with me too, so I didn't starve. To be honest, nobody starved. We had some great people looking after our diet and keeping us strong.

What was the weather like?
We were all afraid of the rain coming, but luckily for us it rained only 3 times and this was at night when we were sleeping in our tents. The higher you climb, the more foggy it gets. When you're watching clouds from the ground or from your balcony - they are so wonderful and amazing, but when you’re literally walking in or above them - you change your opinion pretty quickly! They are cold and wet and usually bring rain. At the top, it was snowy and cold, but if you get a chance to see the view, you will never forget it and it will all be worth it! :)

Was it more difficult to go up than down? Did you have any problems?
Yeah, you're so excited when you've reached the summit that you forget all precautions when going down. I kept them in mind every day I went up, but totally forgot about them going down. As a result, I twisted my ankle and was always tail behind.

After you left Kili, what did you do to relax in Kenya?
We had a fantastic safari in Kenya, before heading to Zanzibar and then Dar es Salaam for three days to finish our trip. From there we flew back to Malta with my good friends Laima & Sophie (more part of my family - which they became after our mountain climb)

How much money did you raise? Did you visit the location of the charity?
We helped to raise over €110,000 which was a huge success! Unfortunately, we had to go back to work before the team left for Ethiopia to see the project in action, but we’ve seen pictures, and it’s great to know that the money we raised is going to a really good cause!

We loved every minute of it, and we're really proud to have taken part.

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