A Climb with a Purpose by Rahel Mwitula Williams
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!
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Thanks, and asanteni sana in advance for your love and support.
Let the journey begin. It Can Be Done!