Not even 2 months in and what a year it’s been already! Crater Creations started 2019 off with a bang by successfully summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and completing our first ever action trip fundraiser. Thanks to your support, this trip was able to raise just over $15,000 for the Kisharu community.
The trip began in Nairobi where our group of 10 converged, many for the first time. We were joined by Daniel, our Kisharu community leader, and after spending the day touring the city, we made our way to Suswa. The group’s visit to Kisharu was special in more ways than one, not just for us, but for the members of the community as well.
The visit gave everyone in our group a first hand view of all of the projects sponsored by Crater Creations, allowing them to see the direct impact that donations have made and will continue to make for years to come. It’s one thing to read about the geothermal water systems and school sponsorships, but to physically see a system in person, talk to the community's engineer that built it, and speak with one our students about their future career aspirations is an entirely different experience. The visit also gave the members of the community a chance to share and celebrate their culture. They welcomed our group with open arms. It was an experience we will all hold dear.
Our time in Kisharu also gave our team a chance to sit down and outline the 2019 budget. A few of the major projects that we will be supporting this year include solar power and vaccine refrigeration for the local medical dispensary, and building a gravity assisted water system for the Olngoswa Primary School, as well as other initiatives. This water system is particularly challenging because the school is not built near any geothermal hot spots. Instead, we're planning on constructing the system on a relatively close hill and using a gravity assist to pipe water to the school.
Another major project for 2019 is to restructure our school sponsorship program to allow for additional students in the community to have access to funding opportunities for primary school, secondary school, or even university. Lesinko is the first student sponsored by Crater Creations to graduate from secondary school. He now hopes to attend the Technical University of Kenya and major in engineering.
After our time in Kisharu, our group took a 10 hour bus ride from the to Moshi, Tanzania to begin our climb. We checked in at the Londorossi Gate to meet our team of guides and porters. To give an idea of how large of an operation this was, our group of 10 had a support staff consisting of 28 members - 1 head guide, 3 assistant guides, 2 cooks, 2 waiters (yes, waiters!), and 20 porters.
The tourism surrounding Kilimanjaro is extremely beneficial to the local economy. As physically taxing as these jobs are, they are extremely sought after and competitive because they offer fair wages and a consistent stream of income - two things rarely found in rural Tanzania. The revenue from the park provides approximately 12,000 local Tanzanians with jobs and contributes about 13% of the country’s overall GDP. As a result, the areas surrounding Kilimanjaro National Park have some of the highest school enrollment rates and adult literacy rates in the country.
The first few days of the climb were taken at a very slow leisurely pace which assisted our bodies in acclimating to the altitude. Altitude sickness can affect everyone differently and even the most experienced, most physically fit hikers aren’t immune to its crippling symptoms. Unfortunately, one member of our group succumbed to altitude early on and had to make the journey home. All 9 other members of our group were able to summit, but not without difficulty.
Part of what made this climb so interesting is the varying climate zones that we passed through. The hike started out in a lush green montane forest habitat, with monkeys jumping in the treetops overhead. As the hours turned into days, the trees began to thin and we entered into the moorland habitat. We spent the next few days hiking through the moorlands until we made our way into the alpine desert habitat.
Summiting Kilimanjaro was an experience unlike any other. We began hiking at midnight, moving painfully slowly, and made it to Uhuru Peak for sunrise. The weather was less than kind, with a rare blizzard roaring through the night. In the dark, cold, and unforgiving landscape, seeing the other climbers' headlamps dancing in the distance gifted a much needed feeling of warmth and solidarity. When we all made it to the top, emotions were flowing and once the clouds gave way to the sun we were rewarded with a breathtaking view. We snapped our victory photos proudly (with freezing hands), took a steadying breath of crisp mountain air, and prepared to make the long decent.
We are forever grateful for your involvement in Crater Creations' first ever action trip fundraiser! Whether you donated, joined us, or supported us from afar, we could not make any of this happen without you.
If you're interested in our 2020 trip - give us a shout.
David & Rachel
The Crater Creations Action Trip Team with Nairobi in the background
Arriving at Daniel's Manyatta
Exploring one of the local geothermal water condensation systems
Our group posing with Daniel, dressed in traditional Maasai shukas
Exploring the water system sponsored by Crater Creations in 2018
Crater Creations Team Members: Rachel, Daniel, and David
Olngoswa Primary School
Students in Mr. Langat’s 2nd grade class
Lesinko Sipitiek - recent high school graduate, future engineer
Our climbing team!
Day 1 in the montane forest
Day 3 in the moorlands
Day 5 in the moorlands
Day 7 on summit day
An unforgettable moment matched with an unforgettable sunrise
A proud moment at Uhuru Peak