In February 2008, in an effort to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, a group of people, Journeys of Inspiration (JOI), traveled to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the continent. They were accompanied by the guides and porters of the African company, Zara Travel. As the climbers began their journey it quickly became evident that the porters and guides had little of the equipment and clothing needed for the climatic changes they experienced. Before leaving for the states the JOI climbers left behind much of their own clothing and equipment for these men.
In April of 2008 the second group of JOI climbers was assembled and began their training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. This was all under the watchful eye of the first group of climbers, the 08'ers, as they fondly became known. During the training hikes the experienced climbers passed along stories of the hardworking porter and guides. They especially spoke of their unique skills, how little they had in terms of gear and equipment to keep them safe on the mountain, and they spoke of what they had learned about the educational needs of the porters and guides families. Throughout that year of training, boots and sleeping bags were collected so they could be distributed to the porters and guides on JOI's next trip to Africa.
In February 2009, the second JOI climbers arrived in Africa. Upon arrival the boots and sleeping bags were given to the men. They were extremely grateful for the generosity.
As this group of climbers began their own ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro it was obvious that the porters and guides still had needs to be filled. They saw the worn shoes and the lack of proper clothing that they needed in order to protect themselves from the elements. Just like the previous years climbers, when the trip was over, they left footwear and other items to be distributed to the men. The climbers then left Africa with the commitment to do whatever they could to help these men and their families with clothing, gear and educational needs.
In 2009 we officially established the Porters and Guides Project aimed at getting the porter and guides the necessary equipment and gear and also providing educational assistance.
Here is Why:
It is a Porter's life for Me
Tourism is one of the greatest sources of income for the Tanzanian people. The beautiful countryside, the challenging hikes on the mountains and the excitement of the safaris are drawing visitors from all over the world. Many Tanzanian men have chosen to earn an income as a porter or a guide with one of the local travel organizations.
Typically the men start as porters for the first three years and afterwards they can try to qualify for the position of assistant guide. It is reported that the average pay per day is less than $10.00 USD for the porters and guides can earn 20.00 USD per day. Some say it is much less. Anyone who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro can attest to the valuable role the porters and guides play in a climb. They are the key to people's safety and the success of the many who reach the summit. They are with their clients every step and stumble of the way.
Elimu ni ufunguo wa maendeleol (swahili)
Translation: Education is Key to develop
The people of Tanzania are very friendly and love to share information about their country. One thing that was impressed upon us the most was the importance they place upon education. The Tanzanian government offers a free education to primary aged children. Primary school includes grades 1-7, the children range in age from 7-14. Secondary school includes grades 8-12. Students interested in secondary schooling are required to take national exams to determine eligibility to continue their education. English is taught at the secondary school level. The average cost of secondary schooling by the government is approximately $350.00 USD per year. There are also private boarding schools available to children. Those prices vary between institutions.
Tanzanian parents, not unlike the American parent, wish to see their children's future have an opportunity for growth and betterment. Great emphasis is placed upon education. Unfortunately with the high unemployment rate and the average income of the Tanzanian family being only $700 USD a year, such expenditures can be a strain on the family’s budget. In many cases they are absolutely impossible.
Education is not only a vehicle for the children to find a better future, but adults working in the travel industry have found that learning English is a big advantage for their own advancement. English classes are available during the rainy season (March, April and May). During this time the porters and guides are out of work due to the poor weather conditions impeding climbing on the mountains. For $60.00 USD they can take English classes.
The connection that we have felt with the porters and guides has blossomed into a desire to give back to their kindness.
How Can You Help?
There are two areas that are current needs for the porters/guides and their families. The first is getting each man on this list needed raingear. The second is assisting to offset the cost of education for their children and themselves.
<< Porter List>>
If you would like to be apart of Journeys of Solutions and make a donation to the Porter/Guide Project,
Send your check to our address:
Journeys of Solutions, Inc.
Bonnie Dupuis, Treasurer
PO Box 28
Webster, New York 14580-0028
Or you can donate online by clicking the donate button.
Please make a note in the memo of the check to indicate how we should direct the funds. Example: Porters/Guide educational fund or rain gear.