African Press International (API)

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6 set to summit Kilimanjaro for Kenyan girls

Posted by African Press International on April 6, 2007

By: Maya Salwen

Six Duke students are planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in August to raise money for a Kenyan school.

Media Credit: KEVIN HWANG

Six Duke students are planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in August to raise money for a Kenyan school.

Sophomore Lee Miller has never been mountain climbing. But in August, he will scale Africa’s tallest mountain while raising money for a good cause.

Aug. 13, a group of six Duke students called climbWISER, including Miller, will spend a week climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research, the first boarding school for girls in Muhuru Bay, Kenya.

“We’ve raised about $5,000 since we started our big fundraising push [March 10],” sophomore Chetan Jhaveri said. ClimbWISER hopes to raise $50,000.

Sophomore Varun Gokarn said he is optimistic the group will reach its goal.

“We purposefully set a lofty goal for ourselves. But even if we don’t reach it we’ve still made a significant contribution to the project,” he said.

Tuition to the school is approximately $500 a year, and a sum of $50,000 would provide a complete education for 100 girls.

Jhaveri, Miller and Gokarn, along with sophomores Jason Pate, Nandini Kumar and Kevin Hwang, who is also a Chronicle photographer, said they have all wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro since their freshman year.

“I remember very distinctly sitting in the basement of Lilly Library procrastinating and watching the movie trailer for ‘An Inconvenient Truth,'” Miller said. “Al Gore says very, very dramatically, ‘Before the end of the decade, the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro will be gone’-so my friends said, ‘We have to go.'”

At the time, the group had not decided to turn the climb into a fundraising opportunity. But Kumar said the group eventually decided to donate to WISER because each member was somehow tied to the organization, either through the Global Health Focus program or the AIDS and other Emerging Diseases: Focus on Kenya class.

For the last five years Sherryl Broverman, associate professor of the practice of biology, has been collaborating with faculty at Egerton University in Kenya to build WISER. The school’s purpose is “reducing sexual abuse and guaranteeing [girls’] right to a safe and effective education,” according to the WISER website.

Currently climbWISER is working on raising money by tapping into personal networks and approaching large corporations in the Raleigh-Durham area. Miller said the group is being careful that all the funds raised go straight to WISER-none of the funds will be used to diffuse the costs of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Several members of the group will be in Muhuru Bay before the climb this summer, piloting a course about gender, leadership and health to 30 girls. The WISER school is scheduled to be completed next summer.

Duke will host a WISER awareness week beginning April 16, during which climbWISER hopes to have a climbing wall to encourage student donations.

“The climb is an adventure of its own,” Pate said. “But it’ll also be an experience to reflect on what we’ve all done over the summer and issues we’d like to focus on in the future.”

Posted to Apn by Karuga wa Njuguna

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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