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Three women from Prescott are about to embark on a trip to trek Kilimanjaro and volunteer in Tanzania. The two activities have no obvious connection. How does hiking this massive mountain in the United Republic of Tanzania relate to time spent volunteering at an orphanage?
From July 1 to July 15, 2022, Prescott residents Michelle Fain, Alvina Green and Dr. Jeanette Pilotte will travel with a group of 26 women through K2 Adventure Travel travel agency in Tanzania.
“Travel like no other” is the slogan of K2 Adventure Travel on its website and it is very true. K2 Adventure Travel offers treks to destinations like Tanzania and Peru, where they partner with the non-profit K2 Adventures Foundation program. These trips involve a trek to a destination like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Machu Pichu in Peru, but both involve a local community support component.
In 2021 friends approached Michelle Fain regarding the idea of hiking Kilimanjaro and through them Fain discovered the K2 Adventures Foundation. She was immediately convinced by the idea. It was not Fain’s first hike on the mountain, however, four years earlier she had climbed the 19,341ft mountain with her son.
Fain shared that her experience with K2 Adventure Travel was a different experience and that she liked having the service component to go along with the adventure. In addition to her experience in 2021, Fain was approached to be a guide for future Kilimanjaro treks as she was a strong and experienced hiker.
The 2022 trip went very quickly with Fain and the other two women. Fain had signed up to hike Kilimanjaro with K2 Adventure Travel and someone mentioned Alvina Green. Fain recalled that Green had expressed a desire to do the hike in the past and when she approached Alvina, the response was an almost immediate yes.
Dr. Jeannette Pilotte had recently gone on a mission trip to Chile where she did medical volunteer work and while there she visited Machu Picchu. This experience inspired Pilotte and when she came back she said she wanted to do Kilimanjaro. She was signed up for the trip in one day.
Before beginning their trek, the group of 26 women will spend time in Arusha, Tanzania to volunteer at the Summit Happy Home orphanage. A program developed to give displaced and orphaned children a head start in life by providing them with a safe place to live with health care, good education and adequate nutrition. The program also allows children to have a permanent home where they can stay throughout their higher education before becoming adults.
Additionally, funding from K2 Adventure Travel goes to the non-profit K2 Adventures Foundation to support the White Hat Project. This program continues to grow and works with the NSK Hospital in Arusha to provide a safe haven for young girls who are victims of sexual violence. The program provides these young women with a safe place to live and receive pre- and post-natal care.
Getting to the hike
“It’s a challenge. It’s a mental and physical challenge that most people can do,” Fain said when asked who can do the hike. She shared that there’s a job to do. preparation involved and that much of it is spent hiking the Prescott trails. She talked about doing the Prescott Triple Crown (Thumb Butte, Granite Mountain, Spruce Mountain) as part of her training. All three hikes combined the same elevation gain you would get in a day on Kilimanjaro.
Additionally, Fain shared how having a strong lower body is an important part of preparing. Hiking is important, but so are squats, step-ups, lunges, bikes, and cardio work.
Fain shared that being able to do a hike like the Prescott Triple Crown is important because it’s the same elevation gain (3,000 feet) as a day on Kilimanjaro. The first day on the mountain is 6 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Summit day is also 3,000 feet of elevation gain, but in just 3 miles.
As daunting as this hike may seem, Fain said it was actually very doable. “It’s a trail,” she said. There is a part that she described as “the best part of the whole hike” called the Barranca wall that can be a little difficult, which Fain describes as “a little difficult where you can’t use your hiking sticks. But other than that, it’s a track.
About the K2 Adventures Foundation
K2 Adventures Foundation is a sister organization to our travel agency, K2 Adventure Travel. Both organizations are inspired by an unshakeable belief in the limitless potential of the human spirit.
The White Hat Project
The White Hat Project (WHP) will build Tanzania’s first safe haven for young girls who are victims of sexual violence. This initiative is the next step in K2 Adventures Foundation’s Tanzanian philanthropic and community service program which began in 2009. Their decade of service will now be extended to actively meet the growing needs of an overlooked subset of Tanzania’s female population. They believe that the WHP can be the start of a cultural shift for survivors of sexual violence in Tanzania.
K2 Adventures and The White Hat Project are teaming up with NSK Hospital in Arusha to lead this initiative. NSK Hospitals donated their secure hospital land to build a 20-bed respite facility.
The K2 White Hat Project will be the first home for expectant mothers to provide life-changing support during their pregnancy and provide prenatal and postnatal care for their unborn child. The WHP will provide these young women with a place to recuperate during their pregnancy and prepare them for successful reintegration into Tanzanian society. Additionally, mothers will receive emotional, physical, and economic support with a vision toward lifelong independence and success.
Happy Home Summit
The K2 Adventures Foundation supports a local orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania, called Summit Happy Home, to provide displaced and orphaned children with a safe environment, proper housing, essential medical care, and much-needed food and clothing. The orphanage was launched in 2019 with six children aged two to eight. Currently, ten children live on the property with five caregivers and staff. They believe in the inseparable bonds of families, which is why they ensure that siblings stay together at the orphanage.
Summit Happy Home’s goal is to provide children with everything they need to grow and thrive. The children are not up for adoption, but benefit from a stable living situation and proper education giving them the tools to fend for themselves when they grow up and, one day, leave Summit Happy Home.
Do you want to register for a future trek in Kilimanjaro with Michelle Fain or simply want to know more? Email [email protected]
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