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Updated: Mar 14

On February 6th, 2023, at 10:15 am, I reached Uhuru Peak. Africa's highest point. The roof of Africa, a dream come true, and it was not… just like that. It was a journey and a process.

It is one thing to read about the analogy between mountains and life, and another to experience it firsthand.


For six days, I hiked and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. In approximately 54-hours, I covered 37 miles to finally reach the top.

Each day, for 8-10 hours, I trekked 3-8 miles at an increasingly higher altitude. I began my “summit day”, the 5th day of the climb, at 1 am and reached Uhuru Peak at 10:15 am, trekking six miles for 9-hours and 15-minutes.

Yelp! That is an entire work week plus overtime. 

I know it doesn’t make sense, and there is no logic behind the distance and time—but that is a mountain. That is Mt. Kilimanjaro and that is life.


The appearance of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s typography is mesmerizing. She is made up of rainforests, moorland, rocks, and desert. Subsequently the weather is unpredictable. It is hot, cold, rain, sunny, hell rain, windy and cloudy. I was literally walking on “cloud 9”.


The beautiful terrains of Mt. Kilimanjaro

The emotional and physical roller coaster I experienced was intense. I had low-energy and high-energy moments. I felt powerful and weak at any given time.

I began to question my decision. But, quitting and going back was not an option. The only possible way back was if my lung capacity was unable to take me to the top—and it was through this experience that I realized God perfectly created my lungs to sustain high altitude elevation. I experienced zero mountain sickness. In fact, the high altitude did not affect me at all (and I was not taking altitude prevention medicine). 

Photos By: John F.

On the contrary, my oxygen levels were better at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes. 


Through all of this, I still loved and enjoyed the journey and experience—because it was mine. I decided the what, the how, and the why. 

Loving and Enjoying the Experience.

She is just herself, in all of her majesty, complexity and contradiction; and if you dare take the risk to be around her and bless to experience, she welcomes you for a memorable and an unspeakable experience. 

Ms. Kili Herself.

The complexity of Mt. Kilimanjaro is one to love, admire and fear all at the same time:

She is beautiful.

She is dangerous. 

She is still. 

She is calm. 

She is rough. 

She is trouble.

She is just herself, in all of her majesty, complexity and contradiction; and if you dare take the risk to be around her, she welcomes you for a memorable and an unspeakable experience. 


I recognized myself in her.

Photo By: John F

I was praying for my loved ones, for those who betrayed me, and for those who hurt me. I was planning my future, allowing my imagination to take me as far as I dared. I was plotting sweet revenge thinking I can use

my ancestors as hitmen and hitwomen: Yes, I did.

Photo By: John F

Then, I decided I no longer want or need to explain or defend my existence or my “whys”. I realized, if I needed to do that, I would have pursued a doctorate degree because it is only there that one should defend their “whys”.


Photo By: John F

So, like Mt. Kili. I own the complexity of my being, existence and “whys” and I am not going to feel shame or guilt about it. I AM me in all of my majesty, complexity, and contradiction.

Thank you for journeying with me.

Thank you for the love and support. 

Thank you for your donation.

Thank you for supporting, uplifting, and shopping with ILAVA. 

The village behind my Uhuru Peak success

This is just the beginning, and I am looking forward to sharing more.

Ps, you're always welcome to make gift to support this journey to read more about where your gift will support click here.

The year was 1945. My maternal grandparents, Saulo Kasanga and Bathseba Ndeki took a 2 day journey across Dabil Mountain in Dareda ward of the Babati District of the Manyara Region. The didn’t climb this mountain because they were bored or they were adventurous, but because life was calling them to the other side of the country. My maternal side of the family were originally from the Tabora Region, a western part of Tanzania, and my grandfather was a teacher by profession. He was called by the church to teach in Dongbesh, Mbulu District area, a Northern part of Tanzania. So, with their 2 year old second born in their hands and leaving behind everything, including their first born - the set out on a journey. The only communication they had was writing letters. No cell phones, no texting or sharing location. One thinks transportation is difficult in Tanzania now - OH OKAY! So, the journey began.

They took a train, hitchhiked, and walked. Then came Dabil Mountain. Just like in life one does not know what mountain you will encounter. My grandparents, by foot, with no “hiking gear” had to cross one of the roughest and most dangerous mountains in Dareda, Mountain Dabil. AND, they actually made it! They found a new home in Dongobesh and successfully raised all of their 9 children (their first born with others family members join them later). My grandparents end up making lasting impact, which I am thinking a lot about now.

I never understood their courage and faith they had to make this journey. Honestly, I still don’t understand, but one thing I know and believe is same God and spirit that led and guide my grandparents in 1945 is the same that will lead and guide me as journey to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro picture taken Feb 1st, 2023.

Updated: Jan 13

ILAVA and ILAVA Gives Back is proud to journey with our founder as she climbs Mountain Kilimanjaro.

“The most emotionally, spiritually and physically challenging journey awaits…climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or as most Tanzanians call it, “Mt. Kili”. On Feb 1st, I will be starting my journey to climb the highest Mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in world.

Mt. Kili is 19,340 feet above sea level…sweet baby Jesus of Nazareth! This beauty of a snow-capped landform is in Tanzania, East Africa (not Kenya!). Yes, you can see the mountain from Kenya, but you cannot climb from the Kenyan side. (I am sorry my dear cousins in Kenya.) More than 30,000 people attempt to reach the Uhuru, which means “freedom”, summit each year, and I will be one of them. I am claiming I can see it and I can feel it.

My first time wanting to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro was when I heard about my father climbing Mt. Kili back in 1979. On July 4th, 1979, the day I was born (yes, I was born on the 4th of July,) my father reached Uhuru Peak and apparently, he signed his name there and I am going to try to find it. Ever since, I knew I wanted to experience this journey that kept my father away from my birth. However, my desire and yearning to climb is beyond experiencing what my father and many Tanzanians have done.

In my 43 years and counting of life I have desired so many things… but fear, God’s will, and my giving nature stopped or prevented me from embarking on them, (this may come as a surprise to so many people.) I have tended to put others needs ahead of mine. I can come up with millions of reasons to keep me from doing things or simply I am not on the same page with God. I know: I am not the only one who is angry, pissed off and irritated with God sometimes. Yes, God’s will is what you want but accepting God’s will is no joke. Most of us are not hopping and skipping with joy when it comes to accepting God’s will. I don’t care how holy and sanctified you are.

As you can imagine

, I had so many reasons to put off this journey. The top reasons were:

· I cannot spend this amount of money to climb a mountain when I can use the money to give back to various causes that I am supporting.

· What if I cannot make it to the top? What if I get sick? What if I die?

· I want to have a baby and I cannot climb Kili while trying to get pregnant.

So, I used the above reasons to justify why I cannot do this, and why it’s bad timing to do that which I have desired for so many years. But the feelings will not go away. And now, I can no longer put it off.

In 2021, I felt like my dreams had been shattered and I lost long term friendships / sisterhood and feeling like my career and business were stagnant. I was losing Rahel, and all of my giving, nurturing and good-hearted self-seemed to be in vain. It was time to put Rahel first. Period. This was not a switch on and off… it was a total lifestyle change.

So, in December 2022, I took three months off from my job (I am so grateful for this opportunity). One of the best benefits of my current job is a 3-month paid sabbatical after 6 years of employment. Thus, I decided to spend 3 months in “the continent” – Africa. One of the things I vow to do is to climb Mt. Kili. My fears and reasons why it will not work did not go away but I have decided to use them as pillars to why I need to climb.

I am climbing to raise money towards projects that are dear to my heart:

One Girl One Bike Project through Msichana Initiative to assist girls in Tanzania living far from school and walking long distances by providing bikes as means of transportation.

Comfy Period Project through Empowered Girl- Monthly supply of pads for girls in rural Arusha and Manyara partner schools and all those who cannot afford them.

The Plaster House – An organization that offers low-cost surgical rehabilitation for children with disabilities in Tanzania.

I am climbing to conquer my fear of failure and “what if?” I am climbing as… a sign that life is one foot in front of the other. Slow down and breathe.

I am climbing because it is what I want and that is more than enough. Finally, I am climbing because although I am scared like never before, I know: It Can Be Done!

YOU! Can take this journey with me. If you pray, please pray I have health and a successful journey. You can also provide financial support by making a tax-deductible gift to ILAVA Gives Back to support the above projects and/or organizations. And you can participate by sharing my journey with your network and ask them to do the same - pray, participate and provide.

I will be recording and sharing as much as I can every step of the way. Apparently, one can experience hallucination while climbing so don’t use what I say against me!

Follow me via social media:

Thanks, and asanteni sana in advance for your love and support.

Let the journey begin. It Can Be Done!

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