Zillions of people have climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro on their bucket lists.
While I love the great outdoors and daily exercise, my pneumonia-scared lungs crave deep breaths of fresh, clean, oxygen-filled air... which is not in the cards over 19,000 feet.
So... for this and many other reasons, I am filled with admiration (and a wee bit of worry) for my husband David and his team who will climb Kilimanjaro in less than 6 short weeks to lead Unite's Hike For Heaven. David and his team (Steve Stafford - NYC, Steve Ho - NYC, and David Doughtery - Dublin) all work in Ernst & Young's (EY) transaction advisory services group. As consultants, they are on call for their clients 24-7, 365 days a year. Truly, I couldn't imagine that such a no-boundaries work life could be possible until we moved from St. Louis to Connecticut 10 years ago.
Next month, these four overworked men (and one beautiful young woman who is an advisor to Unite... I will cover Allie Cunningham in another post shortly) will take nearly two weeks of their extremely precious vacation time to leave their families and embark on the climb of their lives. While I know each has his own personal reasons pushing him towards that summit, none would actually take this time or invest his family's resources in this herculean trek IF it did not somehow serve the greater good. And that it does....
Here, a few reasons why this HIKE FOR HEAVEN matters and why we invite you to SUPPORT these courageous and intrepid souls:
1. The team is climbing to raise money for Unite to complete the build out of the Heaven Pre- and Primary School in Kiserian village south of Arusha in Tanzania. Sponsor them with a tax-deductible donation HERE.
2. Currently, the Heaven School is providing a top-quality, English-speaking education to nearly 200 orphans and at-risk village children. Less than 2 years old, Heaven is already being cited as a model school by local authorities.
3. If this campaign is successful, we will build more classrooms, a school kitchen, dining hall, sports court, additional toilets and more in order to enable Heaven to increase its capacity to more than 500 students, which will also create more jobs for teachers and support staff.
Prior to their hike, David and his colleagues will be working with the executive team at Heaven to create a strategic plan in order to build the school into a profitable business that can not only afford to hire and provide ongoing professional development training for the best teachers but also to support its own operations. Additionally, Heaven will be designed to cover much of the operational costs of the St. Joseph's orphanage, on whose campus the school has been built. Heaven school is a vision of Sister Crispina Mnate, its founder and director, to initially to provide the best education to the youngest of her 47 orphans and then to also empower and uplift the children and families in surrounding villages.
4. Not only are we working to build Heaven in excellence, we are also working to create a school in which teachers move beyond the traditional chalk-and-talk teaching style to use more visual aid and participatory teaching styles. We are now working with renowned African education Astridah Katalyeba to help lead this effort and are committed to providing our teachers the best training and materials that they need to empower their students to become creative problem solvers and life-long learners.
Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ashesi University in Ghana, says that Africa will only be transformed by enlightened AFRICAN leaders. We believe that, with your help, such leaders will one day emerge from our Heaven School.