Teacher: Mr. Brian Sterr,
Boys: Likandapa Hassani, 17; Mambo Abdala, 19; Ramadhani N. Saidi, 15
Girls: Shamira Ali, 19; Ziada Ahmadi, 17; Zaituni S. Ajabu, 17; Fatuma Saidi, 16; Paulina Sylvester, 16
The students were chosen based on essays they wrote about HIV/AIDS. Originally there was another teacher planning to accompany us, but due to unavoidable circumstances he was unable to come. The students then brainstormed some different fund-raising options. We showed soccer matches on the school TV, charging admission. We also planted a large vegetable garden and sold the vegetables. We also bought many kilograms of maize, with the intent to sell it after the price went up. In addition to the projects, we also decided to run 3 days a week. These runs ranged between 3 and 6 miles. Our trip was planned for the end of November.
We started our trip from Tandahimba on the 16th of November. We got on the bus from Tandahimba to Dar es Salaam via Mtwara. We arrived in Dar around 9pm and spent the night in the bus station. The following morning we got on the bus to Marangu, where the gate to Kilimanjaro National Park is located. We arrived in Marangu at about 3:30pm and were met by Ms. Emma Moye, who had arranged guides for us. They took us to the house where we would be staying, a 10 minute walk from the park gate.
On the 18th we went into Moshi town and met with Joel Boutin of MyWorld. After meeting with him we went to the market to buy used clothes for the kids as the climate in Tandahimba is hot and humid, considerably different from the sub-zero temperatures on Kilimanjaro. We bought sweaters, pants, and socks for each student. We also stocked up on some other supplies, like flashlights, for the climb. Backpacks, boots, hats, sleeping bags, and rain gear were borrowed from Ms. Emma Moye (from gear stored at the Marangu Teachers' College).
On the 19th we embarked on our voyage from (6400ft), winding our way up the mountain through the lower forest region to reach Mandara hut (8900ft). The students were tired. They were not used to hiking up hills, as the surrounding areas in Tandahimba are quite flat. They also weren't used to carrying backpacks. We relaxed at the Mandara hut and also walked up to the Maundi Crater and back. We spent much of our free time the next few days playing "Last Card," a Tanzanian version of Uno using a standard deck of cards.
On the 20th we continued up to Horombo hut (12300ft) through the Moorland region, noting the change in environment as the altitude increased. We reached Horombo hut and a few of the students were quite tired at this point. The next day was spent at Horombo hut to acclimatize. We didn't do much, since the weather was a little wet. We did make a short trip up the hill to the zebra rocks.
On the 22nd we headed up to the last set of cabins at Kibo hut (15500ft) located in the alpine desert region. At this point many of the students were starting to feel the effects of the high altitude. After arriving at 2pm, resting a bit, and eating, we turned in early. At 11pm we woke up and had a bit of tea and then began the ascent to the summit at midnight.
Ramadhani decided to wait for us at the Kibo hut. We started out and one by one the students dropped off and returned with the guides to Kibo hut. Many of them made it at least half-way, but were suffering from nausea, dizziness, headaches, vomiting, etc. They all went as far as they possibly could and gave it their all. I don't think a single one of them is disappointed in how far they made it. Mambo and Likandapa made it to Gilman's Point, a mere 600 feet below the summit. Shamira and I made it all the way to the summit at Uhuru Peak (19400ft) at 6:30am. After reaching the summit, where, unfortunately, the clouds prevented us from seeing much, we headed back down to Kibo hut. I reached the hut at about 9am. After having a bit to eat and resting for a couple hours, we packed up our gear and headed down to Horombo hut. At this point the weather decided to change a bit. It was snowing at Kibo hut, but that quickly turned to rain as we descended and we were thoroughly soaked by the time we reached Horombo hut. At least the rain caught us on the way down rather than the way up.
We finished the descent the next day, hiking down from Horombo hut, past Mandara hut, to the house in Marangu where we stayed at the beginning of our trip.
On the 25th, we hopped on the bus to Dar es Salaam. After arriving in Dar on Saturday evening, the next possible tickets back to Tandahimba were for the following Wednesday. So we spent 3 days in Dar at the house of some relatives of my counterpart. Then on the 29th we got on the bus to Tandahimba, arriving on the afternoon of the 30th.
My students were quite exhausted, but had experienced so much in such a short time that I am sure they were still processing it for days. They had an unforgettable time and really enjoyed their trip and will enjoy telling their classmates about it once school starts up again in January.