I climbed Kilimanjaro!!
By: Malika Kingston
Through Roehampton University I was able to participate in a once in a lifetime experience with a wonderful charity called Dig Deep. This charity helps to improve and provide sanitation projects for underdeveloped communities in Kenya through money raised by students. This year, with the help of 36 other students from various universities, we were able to collectively raise over £60,000. After spending some time in the country and witnessing what the living standard are like, I know for a fact this money will do a world of good and help to change the lives of many. As a bonus for each student that hit their target to raise £3,000, we were able to climb Mnt Kilimanjaro! It’s the worlds tallest free standing mountain. To say it was a challenge doesn’t quite express what it was. I'm not sure there was any amount of training that could have prepared me for the climb. To be honest, if I knew beforehand how hard it would be for me to get to the top i'm not sure I would have done it. From the moment we set off on the mountain it was a steady uphill climb. Within the first 10 minutes I knew I made a terrible mistake and bit off more than I could chew. Taking a break every 15 min or so was NOT enough for me, there for I was the last to make it to camp the first day and every day after that. The excitement I started out with soon turned to gloom. I didn’t realise I was capable of complaining so much. Not only was it a physical challenge, but also a mental one. We hiked about 6-8 miles a day and maybe closer to 10 miles on summit day. It took 5 days to get to the top and 1 day to get down. Coming down was just as hard as going up due to the pressure being put on your knees and toes. But through the mountain sickness, freezing cold nights and mornings, hunger, and lack of privacy I did have a great experience.
In addition to all the elements thrown at me by the mountain, I also had to overcome personal health issues. Two weeks before I was set to leave I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. Because I was leaving so soon after my initial results, doctors weren’t able to specify what kind of colitis I have. All that was certain was that my energy would be drained constantly and I would need an abnormal amount of bathroom breaks. Being told by a doctor you aren’t completely healthy is a strange feeling, but then finding out you’ll never be 100% is even worse. I didn’t realise it at the time, but getting to the top of Kilimanjaro was a testament to me. I proved to myself that I can still do whatever I want to do just like anyone else.
I’ve caught the adventure bug again. The next trip… maybe the Great Wall of China? Maybe Thailand? Who knows, but I can do anything my pockets will let me!